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When you build digital stuff all day, you develop opinions. Lots of opinions.


Digital Trends

Google + 4Chan = Love? Google+, the company's largely unsuccessful Facebook-killer, may have gotten a new lease on life. Google has hired 4Chan founder, Chris Poole to take on undisclosed projects related to building online communities. If you are familiar with 4Chan, this is somewhat surprising. The profane, occasionally abusive, and always controversial message board would seem a bad fit for Google's transparency and ad-driven growth. Although Poole expressed some reservations about 4Chan's more extreme elements, it seems unlikely that he would sign on for any Google initiative that didn't guarantee a modicum of privacy. So either Poole ended up hating his anonymous message board more than we thought, or Google is taking a new approach to building online communities. Application to Marketing: I appreciate what Facebook has built. But I don't love it. From an advertiser standpoint, it feels inefficient, secretive, and derivative of other digital mediums we know don't work. On some of its properties, Google has figured out how to make ads less annoying. I'd love to see what Google can do with online communities with a genuine understanding of what makes a community sticky and engaging. Poole has that. Availability: Don't expect to see anything come of the Poole hire until mid-2017. Read More Snapchat Needs your Ads With Unicorns being killed off at Voldemortian levels, the smart tech darlings have turned their attention from growth to revenue. Snapchat's new $16 billion valuation is being justified (in part) by a projected revenue of $300-$350 million in 2016. That is a significant increase on last year's $50 million revenue. So what do they think will drive this growth? Advertising, naturally. Specifically, advertisers increasing awareness of Snapchat's valuable user profile. Application to Marketing: If I'm a client, I'm calling Snapchat. First, because targeting Millennials is a good idea and that's most of their user base. Second, because after announcing these type of revenue goals, their ad sales teams are going to be desperate to book some income. This is like one of Stalin's Five Year plans, it forces people to do any crazy thing to achieve an unrealistic goal. So I'm guessing the sky's the limit on what Snapchat is willing to offer a big advertiser right now. Availability: Call now. Operators are standing by. Read More This Cookie Tastes Awful Oh, Verizon. You silly, silly dinosaur. When will you learn? Verizon has been fined $1.3 million by the FCC for using a supercookie to track the websites their customers visited on their phones. On it's own, that wouldn't have been bad or unusual. But Verizon neglected to mention to their customers that they were being tracked and didn't give them any way to opt out. Verizon has since fixed the problem, but the fact remains that this smells bad. I'm reminded of Lenovo's issue a few years back when they installed the ad-replacing Snapfish technology on their laptops to make a few extra bucks. This kind of behavior is a warning sign that an older company is under revenue pressure. Not a good look. Application to Marketing: Smart advertisers should stay away from companies that sneak user data. Although it's tempting to imagine that the data might contain hidden secrets that will help improve your marketing, consumers really resent this type of intrusion. Whenever you're offered the ability to track or cookie users, make certain that there is transparency to the consumer. Availability: Ad blocking and cookie blocking are serious challenges to the digital advertising industry. Verizon's behavior just encourages wider adoption of these technologies. Read More Will a Robot Take your Job? The short answer to that question is: maybe. In an incredibly thought-provoking piece on robots and income inequality, David Rotman of the MIT Technology Review digs into the complicated question of what effect AI and robots will have on the workforce. (See link below.) His article is worth reading because it is neither breathless cheerleading for the new digital economy nor the hysterical jeremiads of tech-phobic traditionalists. The first jobs to go in an AI and robot-powered economy will be those that rely on repetitive human actions. But that description covers many professions that we do not consider manual labor — medicine, law, and a great deal of writing are actually just the systematic processing of inputs and outputs. Application to Marketing: Having spent more than a few years laboring in the salt mines of the marketing industry, I think our jobs are pretty safe. This safety is not due to the complicated or even creative nature of the work we do, it's just that marketing as it exists today is massively inefficient. Simple decisions are endlessly complicated by bizarre interpersonal issues and political gamesmanship. And that isn't going away. Marketing, every adtech pitch to the contrary, is ultimately subjective. AI and robots don't do subjectivity. Or singularity. (yet) Availability: Nothing to see here. Go back to that email chain and try to figure out the client's hidden agenda. Read More

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