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Hack the city Cities have had an incredible run. As more college educated young people congregate in large urban centers, cities have become petri dishes for technological growth and business development. The trends seem to point to cities growing in importance over the next few decades. IBM and Google (amongst others) are determined to harness this trend and be instrumental in building the smart cities of tomorrow. Google has taken advantage of the brain drain in New York City government after the end of the Bloomberg administration to sign up well-connected and experienced former municipal officials for its Sidewalk Labs initiative. Application to Marketing: Historically, Google’s approach has been to hire the best, build something amazing and then monetize later. I suspect that Sidewalk Labs will eventually be a huge revenue source for the company; cities being centers for money as well as people. For the next three years, most of that money will probably come from advertising as a result of their canny purchase of Titan. Eventually, I suspect more of that revenue will come from whatever Google Voice becomes. And eventually, eventually, I suspect that the big brains at Google are building standalone units in preparation for antitrust litigation. But what do I know. Availability: These guys are building a killer team right now. Revenue can’t be more than a year away. Read More Hack your brain Wearable technology is getting smaller and one implication seems to be that some of the things in the Internet of Things will be people. As wearables reach a tiny scale where they can exist as implants, scientists are looking at them to treat everything from Epilepsy to paralysis to bad eyesight. On the one hand, this is great news since needless suffering can be relieved with smart devices that are small enough to address chronic conditions at the source. On the other hand, the potential abuses seem too infinite to measure. Application to marketing: For the moment, there is no application. And ideally, marketing should never have a direct pipeline into the human brain or body. Some visionaries hope for a day when people carry their credit card as a subcutaneous chip, making purchases instant and seamless. Everyone has a point where technology has gone too far, their Luddite Barrier. I suspect this is mine. Availability: 3-5 years for some technologies, 10+ years for the more ambitious ones. Read More VR is Here. Virtual Reality is a flawed technology. It makes people puke. That is a pretty big barrier to adoption. But technology seems to move forward along massive tides of groupthink and the current groupthink is that 2016 is the year of VR. The Mobile World Conference happening in Barcelona this week is awash in VR headsets. And now Valve (the cloud-based gaming giant) has released a tool that allows you to test if your PC is VR-ready. Will mass adoption drive much-needed innovation or just a torrent of game-induced vomit? I have no idea. But I’m excited to see. Application to Marketing: Remember all the stupid, pointless things marketing campaigns did with drones 4 years ago or 3-D printers 3 years ago? That will be nothing compared to the awesome stupidity we are about to unleash on an unsuspecting public. Here’s my recommendation. Wait it out. Don’t try to sell frozen pizzas with technology that causes nausea. How to put this politely? It won’t work. Availability: This year. Buckle up. Read More Feel this Bern? Remember those innocent days when libertarian youth and internet-based heroin dealers united in celebrating Bitcoin, the digital currency that was going to destroy and replace the old order? Well, the funny thing about Wall Street is Wall Street doesn’t fight revolutions; they buy them. The core innovation of Bitcoin was the Blockchain, a distributed, shared ledger that made every Bitcoin user an honest broker for every other. It seemed to offer an end to fiat currencies and government control of the medium of exchange. Guess what? Wall Street just ignored the revolution part of Bitcoin. The technology works just as well for the financial establishment as it did for Silk Road. So Wall Street has been slowly integrating it into their systems. Application to Marketing: Sorry, bitcoiners for being a downer, but the blockchain would also be an amazing way to eliminate digital ad fraud. After all, it’s just a really smart, distributed way to confirm transactions. Viewing an ad is a transaction. But we have no current way to confirm that that transaction has actually taken place. The Blockchain would be an amazing way to eliminate almost 8 billion dollars in fraud from the ad market. Availability: Wall Street will grab all the best first-generation Blockchain programmers. My guess is a smart ad-serving company like Facebook’s Atlas or Google’s Doubleclick will hire the rest. Read More

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