Hey, Advertisers, You're Asking The Wrong Question

Published in Online Spin, April 17 2015

“I can’t tell you how many times a corporate client will say to me, ‘Tell our customers how great we are.’ I always reply that their customers aren’t interested. ‘Tell them anyway,’ they say. ‘TELL THEM.’”

Speaking at The Project conference in Auckland, New Zealand, James Hurman, innovation consultant and author of “The Case for Creativity,” was on a mission: to help us understand that client-agency interactions like that never work because they’re based on the wrong question.


What’s the wrong question? “What do we want to tell our customers?” Or, as Hurman put it, “What do we want to communicate at our customers?”


This question is fundamentally flawed because it’s company-centric, not customer-centric. So what’s the right question? Simple: “What is getting in the way of the customer behaving the way we want?”

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For Digital Marketing, Targeting Can Be Deadly

Published in Online Spin, April 10 2015

As it is no doubt for you, much of the content I consume online is surfaced by algorithms. These algorithms consider things like what I’ve read, what I’ve watched and clicked on, and who my friends are to find content they think I’ll like. And because they’re looking to match my existing preferences, they often provide material that reinforces what I already know or believe -- what Eli Pariser called “filter bubbles.”

Fight For Women's Rights Goes From Social Media To Frontiers Of Foreign Policy

Published in Online Spin, April 3 2015

I haven’t made much mention of feminism in this column. The last time I tried was three years ago, and it was actually a decidedly imperfect attempt at a conversation beyond feminism.


But it’s been a rough couple of weeks for women on the Internet -- so much so, that I feel compelled to wade back into the fray with a wild and dangerous opinion of my own.


First, the backstory, or rather, stories. It started, as these things do, with National Cleavage Day. Yes, it’s a thing, inasmuch as a Wikipedia entry and a corporate sponsorship make a thing a thing.


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Three Reasons You Should Read That Column I Wrote On Exponential Technologies

Published in Online Spin, March 27 2015

You know that thing that happens when you buy a new car, and then you see that car everywhere?

This is kind of like that.

Three weeks ago, I wrote a column about exponential technologies. I looked at the way that any industry built on information will follow a price-performance curve that roughly doubles every year, at the fact that we’re starting to reach inflection points on technologies ranging from artificial intelligence to bioengineering, and how all of these technologies are now starting to converge.

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Monica Lewinsky Discusses The Dark Side Of The Digital Revolution

Published in Online Spin, March 20 2015

Tell me: how wise were you, at 22 years old? Extremely, I imagine. Probably didn’t make a single mistake. Nothing embarrassing, nothing foolish, almost certainly didn’t fall in love with the wrong person, and definitely didn’t fall in love with your boss, right?

These were the questions Monica Lewinsky asked of the TED2015 audience when she took the stage yesterday in Vancouver, British Columbia. Hands up, those who didn’t do something dumb. Hands up, those who have no regrets from that time. Unsurprisingly, not a single hand went up.

We all have moments in our evolution we prefer to forget, stumbling stones on the road to maturity -- and, for most of us, these moments fade into oblivion. But imagine if that weren’t the case. Think about that one time you crossed a line -- got a bit too drunk,

The Exponential Revolution Is Coming To Get You

Published in Online Spin, March 6 2015

I have swallowed the red pill of reality.

For the past four-and-a-half days, I’ve been bombarded by insanely skilled academics with a tsunami of information that will, henceforth, color the way I look at the world -- and should, I believe, color the way you do, too.

The program is based in Silicon Valley and it’s called Singularity University, or SU. It was founded by Ray Kurzweil (who, among myriad other accomplishments, is a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and was called one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America” by PBS), and Peter Diamandis (who started X-Prize, which develops contests for tech development). The faculty includes Ph.D.s, bestselling authors, a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- insanely heavy hitters all. The content includes nanotechnology,

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Even Facebook Isn't Using Facebook To Communicate With Investors

Published in Online Spin, February 27 2015

You know those old chestnuts: Accountants never get around to doing their own taxes. Advertising agencies don’t advertise. Plumbers have leaky pipes. And now, there’s Facebook, the No. 1 social media platform in the Western world. For obvious reasons, the company doesn’t use competitor channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. But according to a recent study by Investis, Facebook execs also fail to use their own channel well. “Facebook's investor relations page fell well short of best practice,” says the press release, “For example, it does not use videos or hashtags and it does not appear to have responded to any of the posts left by users.”

Is Google Glass Poised To Become The Betamax Of Wearables?

Published in Online Spin, February 20 2015

“We’re running a clinical trial on the use of Google Glass in a hospital setting,” said the young man across from me, excitedly. “This could change everything!”

“Oh,” I replied. “But didn’t Google just cancel the Glass program?”


He looked deflated. “It’s not so much about Google Glass,” he backpedaled. “It’s more about, you know, wearables, and how they affect doctor-patient behavior. What we’re learning is applicable across the board, whether it’s with Glass or some other technology.”

Lean Method Migrates From Bits To Bytes And Back Again

Published in Online Spin, February 13 2015

Back in 2009, I attended a conference called X Media Lab, designed for startups in the creative and tech industries. At the time, I was the CMO of a startup virtual world for kids. On the opening day, we got to have 20-minute sessions with a few of the speakers, to get their input on our fledgling companies. We sat down with a guy named Nat Torkington, who’s been involved with the Web since it was born.

“Go check out Startup Lessons Learned,” he advised us. “You guys need to start using a lean methodology.”


We checked it out -- and found it to be a revelation for our business.

The Music Industry Is Getting Brokener And Brokener

Published in Online Spin, Februray 6 2015

The world has changed, they said.

Creative industries have been democratized, they said.


There are no more gatekeepers, they said.


I call bullshit.


No, you no longer need a big record label in order to be discovered

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