Digital Journeys II: Footprints are the Future of Marketing

| 27 Jun, 2013

Trillions of individual digital footprints are creating giant footprints, the digital eco-systems that will shape the future of marketing. Matt Owen, Head of UK Agency here at Jellyfish, discusses the key issues and trends that will help us to plan and prepare for the next phase of digital.


Hey everyone, welcome back to Digital Journeys 2 Back to the Future. Bit about me, standard issue agency type facts about what I do. One take out for you all from this, basically I'm actually quite old. That's your take out. But guess what? Once upon a time I was young, unbelievable, and I've got some proof around this for you. This is a picture of the first decent guitar I bought in 1980. Thirty three years ago. Sounds bad but I tell you what, there's some good things about being as old as me. Here's one of them. I remember this; this is the Google search page from roundabout 1997. Twenty five million pages in the index. That's like nothing, absolutely nothing.

Since then I've been I would say a Google geek. I actually got really excited when I got my first Gmail invitation. It was like, 'Wow. Gmail. This looks amazing.' As a geek I like to think I fit into this bit: the famous geek-nerd-dork Venn diagram so hopefully intelligence and obsession not too much of the social ineptitude feedback welcome, on that, by the way.

I'm a geek and geeks love to do maths, obviously, so I'm going to do a bit of maths now for you. About 100 people in the room. I reckon there's 80 Smartphones at least in here right now. The well-worn fact: 150 Smartphone interactions per day, we'll break that down, that's about 10 per hour. Bit more maths: four waking hours today so far. It's 12 o'clock. How many interactions have we got in this room so far? I'll tell you: 3,200. 3,200 interactions with your Smartphones just from you people in the room right now. Or 1.5 billion across the UK just in that little time span. That is quite a lot of data, quite a lot of interactions.

What I'm going to talk about is, some of it is going to be about this data and how we're creating it but it's going to be about how it all joins up and how some of the larger organisations, Google, who are in the room with us today, Microsoft, how that's all coming together in a way that's really going to change the way that we all think about marketing.

The first thing I'd like to suggest is we talk a lot about data and interactions and I think we should talk about footprints instead. Here's why: a signal is quite a simple thing but here's a footprint. I can go quite slowly, directional travel. I can make it intense, I can jump up and down a bit like this, I can be fast. I can be slower again. A footprint is actually a really rich data interaction. The connection here, I'm going to give you a little bit of movie history. In 1998 Roland Emmerich directed a reboot of Godzilla. In this reboot there's a scene pretty early on in the movie where Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno, doing that kind of bromance, they're bickering a bit, he's a geeky scientist, he's an action man, I wonder what will happen. They're hacking through the jungle trying to find something that has been eating massive oil tankers. Clue? It's probably Godzilla but they don't know that at that point.

There's a scene in the movie where they're walking along bickering and they stumble down this massive impression in the ground, like a cliff face. They pick themselves up, hug each other a little bit like bromance guys do and the camera pans backwards a little bit and you start to see the shape of something in the ground. It pans back a bit more, and a bit more and a bit more and what it reveals is this enormous footprint in the ground. It's absolutely huge. The point is you can't see it when you're in it, you can only see it when you're above it in the helicopter view.

That's really where we are in terms of digital marketing: we've been looking at little bits of this footprint but we're now in a position where we can actually start to see the connections between everything and the impression that it's going to make on us as digital marketers.

Trillions of individual footprints contributing to this giant footprint. In the spirit of dinosaurs, a bit of history for you now. We need to go back and think about how search is evolving. Back in the day when it was 25 million pages in the Google index it was all around documents and document search was actually quite challenging. As the web expanded, Google, for example, had to think of better ways to organise this information. We have evolution around things like the link graph, the social graph, author rank: this is all about delivering a better user experience for anyone who's using the internet.

Matt alluded to this earlier on. Where Google is right now and evolution is to the knowledge graph, in other words the connection of people, places and things combining lots of different data entities into something that's much more subtle, useful and valuable. A really simple search for somebody like Gordon Ramsey gives us a whole bunch of information around Gordon, his restaurant, where he is and the people he's associated with.

This looks like a very complicated piece of engineering and to a certain extent it is. What's interesting though is that actually the principle of the knowledge graph is really devastatingly simple. How it works is it's around the concept of a signal of salience. In other words, the more that I interact with stuff Google understands that that is important to me as an individual. The end goal of this, Amit Singhal again, is you might think of it as being anticipatory computing, what's sometimes called 'gravitational information'. In other words, the requirement to deliver stuff to you before you even know you really want it.

Here's an example of Google Now; you've seen some of these screen shots before. But Google Now is incredibly useful; it gives you stuff that you don't even know you need around things like weather, destinations, flights, accommodation and so on. What's happening here is that what we think of the search [inaudible 6:53] as I would say is becoming increasingly necessary.

What's really happening is the information is going to gravitate towards you and your consumers in a much more proactive and intelligent way. This is what's happening right now. We're getting a much deeper, richer and authentic view on these digital footprints and how we can work with them.

Big trend number one: device proliferation. This is where we are now and this interplay between Smartphone, fablet, tablet-hybrid-laptop device this is already quite challenging for us as marketing people. We haven't really got this licked yet but what's happening next with the internet of things is a massive leap in the complexity of this stuff. The whole Smartphone- tablet thing is going to be a pinprick compared to this. Let's look at something that is often talked about in terms of the internet of things.

This is actually my fridge. By the way, to prove that I'm young, that's me at age six. I really was that age at some point. The fridge is actually a very interesting device in terms of the signals of salience. I'll give you an example of that: mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is great, obviously. This is the good stuff, the real mayonnaise. This stuff here is rubbish. Don't ever eat that stuff, it's really bad. In my fridge in a situation where all these products are tagged up with RFID tags or bar code scanners, something like that, my fridge is going to get a pretty good understanding of which mayonnaise I interact with most because this one, if it ever gets into the fridge, is going to be like a dusty old jar. It's never going to get opened. This one here is going to be in and out of the fridge, it's going to get lighter as I use more of it and this will happen with lots of different stuff. In my fridge I have orange juice, booze, whatever it is.

All these things are going to be sending my fridge lots of very interesting signals around how I consume things.

Your car: a very rich source of information. My car is going to know where I shop, where I eat, where I have lunch, when I go to the cinema, when I socialise. My thermostat: supposing I'm a shift worker. My thermostat is going to understand that by the way I set my heating. It's going to understand I have a certain life pattern, it's going to know when I go on holiday for example, and it's going to log that information. The washing machine will understand which clothes I wear more and the ones I don't wear more. Everything's tagged up, of course, and it will build up a consumption pattern around me as an individual.

These are some screenshots from Google Glass and just think about this interface for a minute because this is what's kind of interesting I guess.

It's a very small screen, information will be pushed to that. This is a real prototype interface for the way lots of these devices will be interacting and how you make your information decisions and what information they push out to us as consumers. There's another big trend of course; hyper-personalised data, wearable computing. The typical fitness tracker, obviously you now have a FitBit tracker in your goodie bags thanks to Gareth who's over here from FitBit, thank you Gareth, measures all kinds of interesting stuff around you: your sleep, calories, distance walked, all these kinds of footprints, very, very granular, very, very personalised to me as an individual. Glasses, smart watches, shoes. There are quite a few athletic products now where there are sensors in shoes and in football boots that allow very minute and real time tracking of athletic performance.

Implants. About ten years ago Sergei Brin and Larry Page actually said that their ultimate vision for Google was to have an implant in your brain, the information to be fed directly into your neural system. That sounds a bit weird but I'd have one. Definitely. There are even more of these footprints happening.

Music preferences. We love music, right? We share it, we talk about it, we comment on it and it's no coincidence that iTunes, Google, Amazon are very active in this area because it's a massive signal around our user preferences and stuff that we really, really like.

We love films, we're passionate about films. Again, it's no coincidence that with Amazon Prime or LoveFilm and Google's Play Store we can look at films and we can comment on them. This data is an incredibly rich source about preference, about what kind of things I like and what kind of things I don't like.

Think about games. Games are massive and games provide a really, really great source about digital footprints. I'll give you an example. My son Eddie is a really keen Forza fan. In Forza you get lots of chances to configure the cars that you drive. As a car manufacturer I would love to know which combinations of colours and trim and spec are most commonly selected by people who play Forza. It's a really interesting piece of marketing. It's no coincidence that although Google are not a game developer they've recently employed a guy called Noah Falstein who used to work for Lucas Arts and he's head of gaming at Google. Google doesn't sell games, they make them available for the Android platform, but no one knows what he's doing. There's lot of stuff saying, 'We can't tell you what he's up to.' That's quite interesting. Some of the new Google Now cards...just rewind a little bit. These things are powered by the knowledge graph, they're based on individual preferences, the interconnectedness between information are proactively suggesting things around video games, TV shows, music, films, a much richer and deeper source of this kind of push information.

For me I think the Xbox One Neo Kinect is probably the ultimate device in terms of tracking all this stuff. If you haven't read about it this sensor is going to track loads of stuff: your heart rate, your blood pressure, it will have a very sensitive iris sensor so it can see how you react to certain kinds of stimuli. It can tell whether you're happy or sad from your facial expression and the potential to tap into that information when I watch a film, when I play a game. It's on all the time, by the way, I could be doing anything on my sofa. Hold that thought. This is an amazing source for personalised data. It's there, it's there's right now. There is lots and lots of data, lots of devices, lots of opportunities to gain the insight so my question is which of the players in this market are best positioned to make the most of this huge opportunity?

Here we have the usual suspects. It's my contention that Google are going to essentially wipe the floor with the other players in the ecosystems. Here's why: the stuff you know about Google. Leading search company for active and social, brilliant mapping product, YouTube, huge video platform. The mobile OS is unbelievably prolific. There are only six billion people to go across the earth but I think that's probably an achievable target I would have thought but it's a huge number of people using Android.

The stuff you perhaps know a little bit less around: Google music, rich source of data, the desktop OS. Probably no one here has used Chrome OS for the desktop; it's going to be huge. One of the most interesting things I've seen recently from Google is if you use YouTube there is a really cool YouTube video editing tool. It now allows you to create slo mo video from your own video in YouTube. The way it does that is let's say, your video is shot at 30 frames per second; in real time it will render that down to say 150 frames per second and insert re-rendered versions of the frames in between the original frames. The really cool thing is it does it in real time based on service side technology.

That's Google saying, 'Hello, Microsoft. We can do anything you can do on the desktop we can do it in the cloud.' Video editing is one of the most difficult, most commonly cited pieces of desktop computing. With that kind of demonstration Google are saying, 'We can do desktop operating system for you as well and we can join all that up.' We obviously have lots of Google devices, Google self-driving cars. There's an entire framework called Android at Home which is designed to join up all these devices: thermostats, fridges, ovens, and so on and so forth. That's part of what Google are doing right now.

Another slightly geeky fact for you here. But Bluetoooth is going to be a key component of this interconnectedness and data sharing and Android now supports the Bluetooth Smart Ready platform. That's going to be 2.5 billion devices in this year alone.

Reality check. That might sound a bit scary to you, by the way; all that personalised data being fed into these ecosystems. You're thinking, 'Am I worried? Should I be worried?' Obviously there's a lot of news this week. I'm sure you've been following the Prism allegations. The conspiracy theorists believe that the combination of digital ecosystems and government interests are essentially creating... I'm sure you've all seen Minority Report. It's like a pre-crime database. In other words, by detecting different consumption patterns of people who might be a terrorist because these guys don't use Google and type in 'bomb'. That's not what happens because that's too easy to track. But if you could understand the footprints left by people who do criminal activities and then match those to people who have not yet done those activities you'd have a pre-crime database. That's what people think Prism is all about. But the reality check here is around essentially lots of people are not worried about this at all. Privacy is history; you need to get over that really and not worry about it.

There are some other things to bear in mind here. The Android and Google ecosystem is an open system. It's not like Apple, it's not like Microsoft and by having these many developers in that ecosystem you've got a massive advantage straightaway over anyone else. This is Google's R&D budget for 2012, $26 billion. To put it in context Facebook's is $9 billion and that's more than NASA's spending in a year on technical research just to give you a sense of where they are on that. Part of the Google roadmap is really significant and this is around analytics, this is the plumbing of it all. Universal analytics is going to be able to send data to GA from any device: your fridge, your Smartphone, your implant if you have one of those, glasses, your car. These can all be fed into universal analytics and then we can start to see in terms of consumption patterns not just what you see in mobile to laptop but these kinds of patterns where every single device is going to be tracked, it's going to be interconnected and as marketing people we can understand the relationship between those different devices.

This is another key step. Again, part of the plumbing but 'single sign on', authentication is a massive concept. You can already do this on the Guardian website. If you have a Google account you can sign in and you get a more personalised experience then Google will understand your consumption needs. As all these devices proliferate single sign on is an enormous layer of personalisation of data capture that Google are putting in place right now.

Going back to the 'Should we be worried thing,' this is my daughter Ruby, by the way. She's 16. She doesn't care about privacy. Not even slightly. She uses the internet on her mobile all the time and she just doesn't care about these privacy issues. It's history. Like many people she suffers from nomophobia so this is a fear of being out of Smartphone range which makes her an ideal person to talk to around trends. Her and a bunch of mates were round the other day and I asked her which social media services they used.

Luckily there's no one from Facebook here. They said, 'Facebook is rubbish. Never use it. Too much spam, too much bullshit on there.' They don't use Twitter very much either. Bruce is probably gone. The two winners were actually these two. They said, 'We love Instagram.' Back to the pictures. They love Instagram. It's very immediate, very engaging and they use YouTube all the time. Photos are amazing. If I want to gather data about me, the photos that I take, how I share them, the ones that I manipulate, crop, cut, this is an incredible source of data. This is actually a quote from Vic Gundotra who's head at Google Plus. This is what Google's saying about photos, 'Your darkroom is a Google data centre.' Google has very advanced technology around photo scanning, facial recognition, understanding what photos actually mean and interpreting those. The new Google Plus has lots of photo features in it about sharing, editing, uploading and so on.

 There's a lot of stuff there to take in. I suggest that in the spirit of footprints and so on we need some sort of guide points, some mapping points around that. The first thing to bear in mind is this: as search marketers we've got very used to the idea that you don't have to be first. It's okay to be position two, position three, you can be on the sidebar. Your campaign might be averaging a 2.9 position or something like that. In this situation obviously that is a fallacy. With these devices, the interfaces they have, there is no second place. You can see that with your mobile already. If you do a search and get you get a bit of local information, you have a map, some images, there's no second place going on there. That creates a real challenge for us having to be in that first position. The way to think around that and a solution is to think around how does the knowledge graph actually work: signals of salience, experiences is how it works.

In other words, you have to have some really great stuff. In the fridge example the mayonnaise that's best for me is the one that's going to be suggested by my fridge. If you have a car configurator then that needs to be a really, really good bit of stuff for that to work. Or if you have a pension calculator make a really good one because when people engage with it that's the signal that Google will use to make sure that that is pushed into your knowledge graph and it's the thing that's going to be displayed then as part of your experience. Maybe user experience optimisation is a take out from that.

Billions of footprints. Even Google is going to struggle with all this information. There's absolutely tons of it. What you can do right now is think about the way that you describe it. The knowledge graph is amazing but it relies on consistency of information, on a taxonomy around that. If you think about your videos, your images, your documents, your web packages, consistent and meaningful description is a great way to make it easy for Google to understand what that's about and to join things together for you. Your information will tend to be more visible.

It's a paradox but one of the problems of really rapid change in evolution is sometimes there is no time to test stuff. You've just got to get on and do it. This link, this will be in the presentation up on the slide show later on, is a really great watch; it's about ten minutes and Alex von Shoemeister just talks around eBay's mobile journey and how they started out trying to model all the data, gave up after about three months, said, 'Sod it. Let's just get on and do stuff instead,' and then they actually launched very, very successful mobile apps, campaigns and so on. They just said, 'We cannot process this data. We're going to have to do something about it.' Ignoring it sometimes is a good idea.

Here's the thing: I bet lots of people in this room are involved in CRM systems, customer data capture and email, that kind of stuff. I think the problem, or the challenge for you guys to think around is that your data is never going to get much better. It's always going to be quite one dimensional. Google's data is going to get better all the time. It's going to get much, much, much better as all these signals, all these footprints feed into it.

You've got an interesting thought process there about how far you take your view on CRM and data capture or whether you think, 'Never mind that. We'll just let Google do this stuff for us,' and you rely on their whole advertising ecosystem to do that work because ultimately they're going to have a much, much better view on customer insight than you are.


There's an ambiguity around Godzilla to go back to the big guy. Sometimes he's portrayed as this city crushing psycho head case character. But actually there are some quite interesting Japanese movies, 'Godzilla Meets the Smog Monster' for example, where Godzilla is the protector and he looks after Tokyo and protects Tokyo from some other big, bad guys. Whatever you think about Google, I mean, I'm a bit of a fan boy obviously, but whatever you think about Google you've got to admire the sheer scale of what they're doing. This strategy, and this is a strategy, by the way, unlike most business strategies. The piecing together of everything from the plumbing, single sign on, Bluetooth, right up to device proliferation, the things they're doing in terms of the knowledge graph, voice search, it is an enormous plan. A giant footprint and no one else is doing this apart from Google.

My tip here is stay very close to what Google are doing. Google make it really easy for you. I would suggest you watch as much stuff from Google IO 2013 as you can. It's all on the internet. Our Google colleagues are here today; ask them what they're doing. Understand stuff because the more you understand at this stage the more you'll get the direction of travel and what's really happening there.

A final practical point, this is a phrase that Google are using at the moment: 'Cookies are the new key words.' And it raises a question around optimisation in this environment. You piece all this together and you realise that with the way devices are changing, the amount of data we have across those devices, how we think of manual optimisation has got to be a thing of the past fairly soon. It'll be too complicated. We can see this trend right now in enhanced campaigns, in AdWords; it's providing a layer of automation into optimisation based on contextual relevance that would be very hard for us to replicate manually. The process, how we go about optimising, is probably going to shift away from manual data crunching and I suspect into a much more creative outlook around engagement and creating brilliant content, stuff that we know will attract consumers.

Next steps. That's the final step analogy there. Matt showed this picture earlier on but I think it is quite significant. The world's leading search company are saying, 'It's the end of search as we know it.' I think that's quite a profound statement. Where it goes for me it feels like we've come almost a full circle; I'm sure many of you guys have studied marketing, this is a paraphrase of Phil Kotler's definition of marketing and we're now able to really identify what people actually want and to satisfy it but it leaves you with nowhere to go.

The way these systems are working is it's going to strip out things like advertising, illusion, catch phrases, none of that stuff will matter because the signals of salience will ensure that only the stuff that you really like gets to you. That's quite a traditional marketing thought. A final bit of history; it's 20 years ago since this book was published. Don Peppers and Martha Rogers and this is about the one to one future. The interesting thing is we're at that point right now. All this stuff is happening: the ability to hyper-personalise, to look with a much more individual view on consumers interact is where we are. This was predicted 20 years ago.

I guess my question to you to finish off is think about where you are on this journey in understanding this trajectory around marketing. You need to start making tracks towards it or you might get squished by a giant dinosaur.

Thank you very much.

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