Category Archives: Advertising & Marketing

Impact15 and Twitchcon Recap

I had the chance of walking around two different conferences this week:  the IMA Impact15 and Twitchcon.  Both were relevant to marketing and advertising:  teaching the conference participants how to be better at their jobs, build great  products, and in turn, generate value for the community and the company.

Impact15 felt more like any other conference in the sense that it was all about the topic du jour today: data.  Talks by Radius, Oracle, and others about how to leverage data to make your marketing more effective.

Twitchcon was uniquely different.  This was a conference for Twitch users, fans, broadcasters, and the supporting ecosystem and it felt like the future of something.  I wrote quite a bit about content and influence marketing in the past and this conference lived it.  I met a ton of video game professionals, agents, broadcasters, and eSports Celebrities and all of them had a ton of fire and passion.  A 16 year old came over and introduced himself – when he handed me his business card, it said he had over 1M followers and usually over 2500 concurrent viewers on Twitch.  Wow.

If you have a chance to head to Twitchcon next year, certainly go to it to see the future of product and marketing coming together.

Impact15, Twitchcon, and more

It has been a busy month since my last post here.  I’m en-route to Las Vegas to speak at the Internet Marketing Association’s Impact15.  I’ve never been to an IMA event before so have no expectations but the speaker lineup looks fairly solid and I met my wife in Vegas (and she’s coming too)… so how bad could it be?

At Impact15, I’ll be doing a fireside chat with The Buddy Group CEO/founder, Pete Deutschman, a friend and partner of Mozilla.  He’ll be interviewing me about Mozilla’s role in the content and advertising space and how putting the users first will lead to better results for marketers and users alike.

On Saturday, I’ll be heading up to San Francisco to Twitchcon.  As many of you know, I was in the video game industry from 2004-2007 while we built IGA Worldwide.  Between then and now, the entire video game industry has blossomed and it’s expanded tremendously.  I have an angel investment in a company who is showing at the event (StageTEN).  They help any broadcaster (especially eSports) have a full digital production studio at their fingertips:  incorporating multiple feeds, polling, text-in, etc.  Everything.

If you are going to be at Impact15 or Twitchcon, would love to say hi.  I will be back in NYC next week.

Two posts you should read:

We are 3 clicks away from an oh shit moment for the web and Dear Abby, I don’t mind advertising but I do mind tracking

Busy Week Ahead

This has been a busy couple of weeks.  Last week was the Silicon Alley Tennis Invitational (part of Silicon Alley Sports) in which we hosted about 40 Silicon Alley execs up in Westchester County and played some tennis, was treated to a surprise guest Patrick McEnroe, and networked with each other.

This week, we’re doing some press briefings for some upcoming launches and have the below scheduled.  Hopefully I’ll be bumping into you at these events.

Wednesday (5/20) is Luma Partners’ Digital Media Summit in which I’ll be delivering a talk around user agency in advertising.  I’ll also be at the event in the afternoon to chat with those who would like to sit down and talk.

Thursday (5/21) is Dmexco NYC inaugural get-together and we’ll be there giving talks about putting the user front and center and giving some insights for the future of advertising.

Looking forward to seeing you this week.


Ad blocking, advertising, and the web

Yesterday, I posted about the content monetization model of advertising.  I see it coming under threat (it’s been under threat for a while) as users are currently winning with their clicks – installing software like ad blockers and beyond.  You should read the piece here.

There is some innovation happening in this space and I wanted to highlight a few of the folks you should probably start following if you have not already.  Note, this list is not comprehensive nor did these people ask me to post about them.  They actually have no clue that they are being listed here.

Dr. Augustine Fou – an independent ad fraud researcher.  I’ve been following Dr. Fou for years when he was on the agency side and have watched him transition into ad fraud.  He’s consistently posting to Twitter and creating presentations around non-human traffic, bots, ad block, etc.

Sean Blanchfield – started and runs a company called PageFair which is an independent ad network that shows non-intrusive ads to people using ad blockers.

Ben Williams – one of the key guys at Eyeo, better known as AdBlock Plus.

Laurie Sullivan – over the years, Laurie has covered this space quite a bit for MediaPost.  Per her recent pieces, she’s continuing.

Ben Barokas – he’s up to something.. again.  watch him.

Who else should be listed or should I be following?

What we’re working on at Mozilla

I just released a post on Advancing Content (our Mozilla blog) that talks about what we’re up to and why.  I think it’s a pretty important piece for the ad, content, and tech industry to read so I hope you do.  And if you find the piece interesting, please re-tweet/share.  The more people who read the piece and understand our mission, the better.

And so when I hear privacy advocates saying that it is the role of the browser to deliver tools for the user to protect their privacy, I agree.  And when I hear Randall Rothenberg saying that browser vendors have a responsibility to our culture and to our economy, I agree.  I do not believe that these aims are in direct conflict.  We need advertising experiences that work for advertisers and publishers, but that also respect the wishes – the agency – of the user.  The user needs to be at the center of the experience, and their desires must be respected in the value exchange.

The above is a snippet from the piece.  Read the whole thing here.

Ads that fit in

Ever since I was on the agency side, I wrestled with the idea of Native Advertising because it was a new name for something that already existed. When questioned by the press or clients, I would define native ads as ads embedded into the UI/UX of the site. But who really cares, how is this new?

At Mozilla, we have a super smart team thinking about and building new advertising products for Firefox in our Content Services group. These products started rolling out in November 2014 at global scale and have had some moderate success so far.

We’ve been experimenting with the format of the advertising experiences and have initially settled on the format of the “tile,” the rectangle that appears on your New:Tab page of your Firefox browser. Most modern browsers have these tiles as they provide quick access to your most frequent and recent websites.

Why did we initially pick the tile as the place to begin our experimentation? Because the New:Tab page already exists in the browser and is a place where hundreds of millions of users are used to seeing their tiles, whether or not they realize they are called tiles.

In a conversation today with Dan Greenberg, the CEO/founder of Sharethrough and members of his team, he termed native advertising as “ads that fit in.” When thinking about our tiles ads in Firefox, I would propose and Dan would probably agree that they are native units. The ads fit in naturally without disrupting our users.

So the tough job is on us at Mozilla… now that we’ve found the right spot initially for the adverts (tiles), we need to present our users with quality and relevant content within it. We are working hard on that.

Thinking About Virtual and Augmented Reality

Thanks to Benjamin de Wit of the Amsterdam based We Make VR, I’ve started to take a close look at the Virtual and Augmented Reality (“VR”) marketplace.  I was in the virtual world (gaming) space for a while but now that we have headsets and augmented lenses, I’m interested in the applications beyond gaming.

I am going to pick up a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 for work (we make a Firefox browser for Android) and will also pick up the Samsung VR to check out some of the initial content created for virtual worlds.

I still have a hard time thinking that there will be hundreds of millions of headsets sold in the short term but I have to imagine that the technologies will evolve and not require crazy head contraptions.  From there, network effects happen and more content will be created since more headsets are in circulation.

Side note:  If I was an advertising holding company (i.e. MDC Partners, WPP, IPG, Omnicom, etc), I would acquire a bunch of VR production studios right now to build the best-in-class highly interactive content.  Just sayin’.

Come work on the most differentiated product vision in advertising technology

It’s the beginning of the year and many companies are hiring.  So are we (Mozilla).  But why should you consider the job opportunities at Mozilla versus many of the super hot pre-IPO companies that also offer good opportunities?

If you are into advertising and marketing technology, I’d like to think that we offer one of the few truly differentiated value propositions in the ecosystem…  and delivering against this is a huge engineering, product, product-market, and account management challenge.  We truly put the user first – and give them complete control.  In our world, it’s not just what the brand wants… it’s also what the user wants.  We’ve begun to assemble a passionate group of folks who “get” the ad tech space – so there is no lack of intelligent conversations.  We are looking to add to this group of folks, affectionately called Content Services.

Below are three areas that we’re hiring for – right now.  If you are interested in any of these or know someone who is, please reach out thru the contact form on this blog.

Prior to reaching out however, please do the following:

Program Manager
We are hiring for a Program Manager to function between engineering, product, product marketing, business development, account management, data science, and partnerships.  The Program Manager should have 4-8 years of experience of managing multi-thread processes at a scaled technology company but one who still acts as a startup.  What counts?  Details.  Proactivity.  Rallying the troops.  Execution.  Accountability  Getting things done.  Sound interesting?  We have a more robust job-spec ready for those who are interested.  Contact here.

Content Partnerships (agency, brand, publisher)
We are hiring Content Partnerships team members.  In many organizations, these would be considered “sales” or “business development” roles*.  We are looking for people to evangelize our products to agencies and brands and build partnerships that are beneficial to not just the advertiser but to the user (most important) and Mozilla.  What counts?  Pro-activity.  Empathy and judgement for the user.  Understanding our values and not just bringing in a dollar where you can find it.  Creativity.  Accountability.  Sound interesting?  We have a more robust job-spec ready for those who are interested.  Contact here.

Partnership Success Team
I’m not sold on the name of the team yet but we’re looking to build out our success function to our content partnerships.  These roles would generally be labeled as “Account Management” and such – making sure the campaigns and clients are having a successful experience working with Mozilla.  What counts?  Details.  Pro-activity.  Being able to think on your feet.  Resourceful.  Polished.  People-person.  Friendly.  Humorous.  Humble.  Sound interesting?  We have a more robust job-spec ready for those who are interested.  Contact here.

Ideally, you are based in New York, Chicago, Mountain View or San Francisco but willing to consider exquisite candidates in most locations.



* My friend Jon discusses the name change here.


2015 Technology, Advertising, and Digital Prediction List

Over the years, I have curated and posted an technology, marketing, advertising, and media trend prediction list on this blog.  This year is no different, I’m going to do it again.  This is a good list to bookmark and reference as you create your presentations throughout the year.

I’ll keep this updated – but I’m not perfect.  Email me if you would like me to include your list (send me blog link and #1 prediction) here.

Predictions for 2015: Uber, Beacons, AdTech, and More (John Battelle)
Thinking about 2015:  Payments, Content Creation, and more
(Darren Herman)
What’s Going to Happen (Fred Wilson)
My 5 Predictions for 2015 and Beyond (Don Dodge)
Mobile Tech Predictions: Android, Amazon, Windows, etc (ZDNet/@jkendrick)
Three Seismic Threats to Marketers (AdAge/@dberkowitz)
The State of Bitcoin and Crytpocurrencies (A16z/@pmarca)
Eight Seismic Changes to the Hispanic Market (MediaPost/Jose Villa)World Economic Forum Predictions: Digital (WEF/Sven Denecken)
What’s Next in Wireless (John Legere)
Tech Predictions:  What Does the Future Hold? (Gary Newe)
20 Questions for 2015 (Benedict Evans)
20 E-Commerce Trends and Predictions for 2015 (eConsultancy)
Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2015 (Adobe/John Watton)
The Future of Digital Media in 2015 (TechCrunch/@pcsathy)
4 Cloud Predictions for 2015 (GigaOm/Barb Darrow)
API Predictions (Steven Willmott)
Predictions for 2015:  There Will be Blood (Valleywag/Dan Lyons)
2015 Tech Predictions (Hany Rashwan)
10 Predictions for Content Marketing (Mashable/Shafqat Islam)
What To Look Out for in Tech 2015 (BI Intelligence)


Some big hairy questions for advertising and marketing technology

It’s an exciting time for the advertising and marketing technology world.  WPP recently acquired up to 25% of Appnexus, Millennial Media just acquired Nexage, and Mozilla recently announced it was entering the advertising landscape (self promotion, I know).

I’ve participated in this ecosystem for a while now and have some big hairy questions for us all going forward.  I think we should spend some time trying to think these questions through as an industry because we are all going to face it them.

What happens when we have five closed ecosystems?

You know, Google, Amazon, Apple, Baidu and Facebook.  These companies are large enough to become “first party” and could redefine the advertising landscape.  What happens to everyone else?  How is measurement accomplished for agencies and advertisers when 3rd party isn’t allowed?

Advertising buyers haven’t thought of the browser much, but they will play an increasingly important role

Back on the agency side, I didn’t see many line items on our media plans specifically for Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera or Firefox but these might play a role moving forward.  Default blocking of cookies, add-ons like AdBlock Plus, and others are impacting ad delivery and targeting.

At large, users are just not in control of their advertising experiences

I spend a lot of time meeting with advertising and marketing technology companies in our sector and I just don’t see the inclusion of user permission/control within the innovation.  Imagine what the results would be if users actually were part of the process around making available the data they wanted marketers to react to.

The display category is much bigger than it was 4 years ago but are we setup to measure it?

Every couple of months a new ad unit is released and every few years, a new medium is created.  Display media has evolved across mediums and units and is at an all-time high; and tomorrow, it’ll be even higher.  Using some quick examples, we have display on Twitter, Pinterest, Firefox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Flipboard… all of which units didn’t exist 1,000 days ago.

We are entering a new wave of marketing and we’re buying the wrong metric

Reach and frequency are the wrong metrics for moving forward but they were the right metrics for yesterdays media buying.  I believe we’re entering the Intention Economy (stolen from Doc Searls) where “intention holders” will be able to make spot markets and evolve the advertising equation.  Why not?  Why not.  Technology has evolved and we’re starting to see the early infrastructure of this existing across Facebook and Uber.

Agencies will exist, they are just setup wrong for the future

One of the more popular questions that gets asked is whether or not agencies will exist in the future… and I certainly believe they will.  Relationships are super important and managed service is not going away.  However, agencies will change and morph.  If we move into the “intention economy” and we have “intention holders,” who becomes the agency for the user?  Who is the user agency?

These are just some of the questions that I’m thinking about – and are part of my industry breakfast conversations.   I hope you are thinking about them too as they are going to impact the next five to ten years of our industry.