The Dressler Blog

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

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Scale: It’s a Big Problem Apparently, Mr. Justin Bieber is popular with the kids. So popular, in fact, that whenever he would post a picture to Instagram, it would cause the service to crash. This was what you’d call a good/bad problem – the service is so popular that it breaks. The popularity is wonderful. But a digital platform that crashes will lose the faith of the market and quickly become an also-ran. Instagram leveraged their new relationship with Facebook to bulk up and cure the Bieber bug. But we’re not all lucky enough to be owned by Facebook. Application to Marketing: Every marketer is desperate to become a “viral sensation.” Virality is like the lottery of marketing; unearned success that still makes you the envy of your peers. But it’s a double-edged sword. When marketers build a digital platform for their campaigns, they aren’t necessarily investing in a scalable infrastructure. So, the more popular, the more viral their success, the more likely the whole thing is to crash and snatch defeat from the jaws of marketing victory. The key is to ask your development team how many concurrent users your new platform can handle and what their plan is for scaling up if traffic exceeds that level. The lesson, as always, don’t plan on your campaign being a failure. Availability: In the cloud era, you should be able to do some load-balancing to achieve scale, assuming your infrastructure has been built to scale. (link to Bieber/Instagram article.) Read More Skynet Buys You a Sweater./strong> Artificial Intelligence scenarios in popular culture always seem apocalyptic. In practice, artificial intelligence is now offering a way for people to search and shop for products using a picture alone. New AI technologies are much better at pattern recognition than regular computers. That means that these systems are now able to recognize a product (like a sweater) in a photograph and match it with similar products sold online. For social media companies, this represents a potential huge new source of income from online retailers affiliate marketing programs. Application to Marketing: Remember QR codes on ads? Nice idea, but few people took the time to download the QR code readers and even fewer actually bothered whipping out their phone to process the image. But these new AI technologies will recognize an ad, recognize the product in the ad and push the consumer to either a place where they can buy or push them to your website. Think about what that means for a moment. Every ad becomes a direct link to sales. A subway poster has all the advantages of a digital ad (and hopefully a better click-thru rate.) Availability: Ultimately, this type of image-recognition technology will become part of the standard package on a smartphone. I’m thinking late 2016. Read More The Bubble is Definitely Maybe Going to Burst/strong> Bubbles burst. That’s what they do. I should know since I watched a bubble burst at close range in San Francisco in early 2000. We have definitely entered a time when many technology companies are overvalued by traditional measures like P/E ratios. So, yes, there is a bubble. But I am optimistic that this bubble will burst differently than last time. First, many of these companies remain in private hands. So a lot of wealth will be destroyed, but not yours or mine. (My non-existent wealth will remain very much unaffected.) Second, many of these companies have a value, just not the value of their stock price. Facebook is a valuable company that offers a valuable service to a tremendously large audience. Pets.com, they ain’t. Application to Marketing: It’s going to hurt. I’m not going to lie to you. The minute companies hear that the market is going through a correction, they start cutting back on marketing. This is going to be particularly acute for people who work on the technology side of things (ahem.) But I anticipate six months of apocalyptic headlines, followed by the “surprising” news that marketing spend actually increased. Let’s all try to keep our heads this time. Availability: 2016 is definitely the year. Whether the bubble pops or fizzles depends on the news coming out of China. Read More Encryption and Terrorism/strong> What happened over the last week in Beirut and Paris was truly horrifying. Understandably many people are angry and looking for ways to prevent something like this from ever happening again. It is equally understandable that officials in the national security community have focused on encryption as a particularly insidious problem. If it were my job to prevent terrorist attacks by monitoring internet traffic, I would agree that encryption was bad. However, there are many uses for encryption that are utterly unrelated to terrorism. And there are many rational, law-abiding people who would prefer that no one could hack their communications. If we need to have a national conversation about encryption, let’s stick to the facts and acknowledge the reality that encryption may be beyond our capacity to control. Application to Marketing: Customers trust us with their data all the time. Encryption is either part of your customer-facing websites or you are definitely compromising your customer’s data. Encryption is a necessary part of how we are doing business today. So we need to be real about encryption and not reactive to the natural and understandable emotions of this painful moment. For business, it’s not about terrorism or child pornography (despite the rhetoric in the press.) It’s about extremely aggressive, overseas professional hacking organizations. Availability: This is going to get political this year. I wish it wasn’t. Because this is a problem for cryptographers, not politicians. Read More