Speed Geeking – Part 3 of 3

May 21, 2013

By Bruce Nickson

Part 3 of our recap of the May 8th Digital Agency Panel, the final BCAMA Evening Speaker Series event for 2012/2013:

It’s about Product…

Sean Tyson of Invoke Media posited the notion that agencies, because of their position of being closer to the consumer than the brand, will be “getting into Product” in ways never before conceivable. Further, because of the relative lack of expense/investment in developing new products, the reality is coming closer, and if Sean is to be believed, is now upon us.


Reason one: advertising doesn’t accrue. Or in terms I understand, it is not scalable. Advertising, on the balance sheet is an expense. Successful brands accrue.

Reason two: people distrust marketing. Nuff said.

Reason three: low barriers to entry because of intelligent and judicious use of technology and people.

“So, more of you guys are going to do product.” It’s the whole oil and water thing. Agencies are becoming more aware of the fundamental difference in the business model. If you’re into product, you’re not solving a marcom problem (most brands can do this themselves, let’s be honest) – you’re solving a real problem. Agencies get the brand clients better than anyone else, and because of the low dollar risk associated with digital product development, the agency becomes better situated to shape product development, go-to-market strategy and more.

Sean Tyson - BCAMA presentation - beginning slide

A Real Time Bidding Platform

The presentation by Katherine Adamkowski, Media Director, Noise Digital was near and dear to my heart since I was peripherally involved in media buying in London years ago. The chief media buyer of the agency I interned with was a god; he was an East London spiv who would have been a wide boy if he weren’t so clever. Every time he picked up the phone, we absolutely knew he was going to get us a 15% better deal than our competing agencies. Through his connections, and his ability to hold fairly complex math in his head, he just made it so. And made us money.

Things have changed. Here’s why.

Katherine is asking us to think about a SW platform that maximizes digital media demand-side choice. She wasn’t clear about which one (and I didn’t get response to requests of assistance in this area). But there are some issues in the digital media buy world:

  • Big Data (sigh)
  • Overabundance of online inventory
  • Complexity of digital buying and lack of success metrics

Which yields an overabundance of online impressions, which in turn yields garbage. Which means wasted demand-side money.

So, what Katherine is proposing as a solution that all media people should be looking at is the publisher who has come up with a Real Time Bidding Platform involving some amazing algorithms.

So what is a Real Time Bidding Platform? There are a number of vendor of this service. But essentially it allows media buyers “to acquire impressions at a price that matches their goals and impressions”. And in about in about 300 to 500 milliseconds.

So, let’s say we’re Crate & Barrel targeting homeowners and remodellers. We purchase the target base overlaid with our external data, then press play, and a day later start to analyze results. Were we totally wrong, partly wrong, or were we close to target? Adjust purchase. And repeat.

Humanize it…

So, how many of you Windows users periodically get a message that goes something like this. “…installing important updates. Do not unplug your computer. Installing update 1 of 14 …”. This makes me spitting mad, because it always occurs when I’m grabbing the laptop and heading off to work, or when I’m desperate to get away from work. My response is “f**k this” and slam the lid, yank the cable out of the outlet, leaving me feeling that I have control. Ummm, not so much.


Kevan Gilbert of Domain 7 is pretty much convinced that we’re turning into cyborgs by allowing our online experience to become a proxy for the real thing.

Which means that our keyboard or touchscreen time is a humanity suck. The technology allows for wonderful connections, creativity and development, but at the same time is “driving us to endless meandering distraction”. Technology is killing our solitude and killing “our ability to be bored”. Is there a realer version of yourself that you’re not discovering?

Kevan goes on to discuss Paul Miller of Verge Magazine who went offline for a year. Basically Paul discovered more clarity, greater productivity, weight loss (no surprise there), but at the same time discovered a new opportunity to make wrong choices.

The thing we should be aware of is a couple of trends. One is the conference trend, for example, a conference called “Wisdom 2.0” and another are apps that help “humanize” us by obliging us to use our mind and helping us into a “happy place” by keeping us fit, counting our calories, organizing our Internet use or, in the case of Lululemon, an app reminding us that it’s time to breathe deeply and meditate. And there are lot’s more. Search “meditation app”, or “apps for mindfulness”.

So, in the end, what Kevan is asking us to watch for this year is digital focus, or maybe better put, digital mindfulness.


Bruce Nickson is employed in the sales and marketing of engineering services and is embarking on (yet another) startup in the technology space.