ep. 03 - David Polinchock: Accomplished Innovator At The Intersection Of Media And Technology
ACCOMPLISHED INNOVATOR AT THE INTERSECTION OF MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY
David has over 30 years experience with the use of emerging technologies, event marketing and brand storytelling. He is a pioneer in the use of VR for advertising and has run his own media lab, as well as a lab for AT&T AdWorks. He has spoken around the world on marketing innovation and the future of advertising
Kyle Davis: I'm recording now. Go ahead.
Gail Davis: David Polinchock has over 30 years experience with the use of emerging technologies, event marketing and brand storytelling. He is the pioneer in the use of VR for advertising and has run his own media lab as well as a lab for AT&T Adworks. He has spoken around the world on marketing innovation and the future of advertising, presented six times at South by Southwest including Conversations with Digital Natives, featuring two of the youngest speakers ever to present, and two panels on VR. We're so excited to have David here today and to talk about this interesting world of VR. Where shall we start Kyle?
Kyle Davis: The future is here.
Gail Davis: The future is now. [crosstalk 00:00:50].
Kyle Davis: One of the conversations that we had just offline before we started recording was VR. I think a lot of people, possibly even younger people or people who haven't really been in the know, just think that this whole new VR, whether it's the Samsung Gear or the Oculus Rift or any of these other "VR devices," that it's relatively new. In the conversation that we had just moments ago, you mentioned that, "Hey, this has been around for a while." Since VR and virtual reality is the hot new subject, let's start there with what your experience has been with that. We'll go from there.
David Polinchock: I really stumbled into virtual reality in the fall of 1990 I think. There's a trade show called IAAPA, which is the big theme park trade show every year in Orlando. I was working in New York for a magazine. It went spectacularly belly up in an afternoon. I had called a bunch of friends just to say, "Holy smokes, I live in New York. I don't have a job. What am I going to do?" A buddy of mine said, "I saw this cool thing called virtual reality." We started talking about it. We said, "Wow, this would be a great marketing thing." Because I had not canceled this meeting, I went to meet with an agency. I said, "Hey, magazine folded so let's not talk about that, but let me tell you about virtual reality. It's going to be the hottest thing ever."
Back then, I could talk like three sentences about virtual reality so that made me a global expert. As we looked at it, it really did make a lot of sense. It really was a totally new way to engage audiences. We started looking for clients. We were doing event work where we would bring some VR units to an event. Then Cutty Sark came to their agency ... [inaudible 00:02:47] & Castle I think was the agency ... To some friends of ours and said, "Hey." Vodka back in the early '90s was really taking off because of flavored vodka. You couldn't do anything with scotch. Orange-flavored scotch would just be kind of gross and disgusting.
They decided to do a VR tour, which we called the Cutty Sark Virtual Voyage. We spent 18 months on the road with it. As I've explained it to my now 15 year old, the computer was the size of a small desk. It cost about $750,000. It didn't have the computing power of any of our phones today. The head-mounted display cost $150,000. The computer was $750,000. It took a million two about in software. It was really expensive to do VR things back then.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, it sounds super scalable.
David Polinchock: yeah, you could do it once. We had two of them, one for the East Coast, one for the West Coast. Even then, you could see. If we showed up at an event with the VR unit, people would wait two, three hours to try it. When they did it, they came away truly thinking, "I saw something awesome." Really starting to talk about the technology in a way that you hadn't seen a lot. Back in the early '90s, we were still fussing around with ... I don't even know that we had banner ads on the internet yet. This was a totally different and engaging way for people to experience a brand. Especially a brand like Cutty Sark, you could either try it or not try it. There wasn't much you could do.
To be able to jump into the Cutty Sark story was pretty interesting and definitely unique. The challenge is, as you're saying, it didn't scale at all. It was dumbly expensive at the time. The equipment was finicky. The computer had very strict operating limits. You couldn't use it over 87 degrees and all that stuff. While we did great work for almost 10 years and we put tens of thousands of people around the world into VR systems and really some very interesting and experimental things were done back then, by the end of the '90s, the other things had caught up. The internet was really booming. People were really excited about the very early bit of mobile and what that could look like.
Because it wasn't scaled, the costs were not coming down. That's what's totally transformed today. The fact that I can take a phone that I already own and attach it to a piece of plastic that costs about $100 and suddenly be in VR totally changes what the technology can do. Again, back in the '90s, we were doing trade-show exhibits with VR. You could fly inside a network-process-serving hub and see the technology from the inside. That was pretty funky stuff back in the early '90s.
Kyle Davis: I was at NRF last year, the National Retail Federation. There was a VR set up for ... I think it was Virgin Atlantic was set up. They were using the Samsung Gear. The line was still 30 minutes. Was it possibly due to the fact that they brought the attractive models out that do all this stuff? Possibly. Who knows, but the experience was really unique. It was this Virgin Atlantic flight that you're on. You're riding in first class. Every so often, the stewardess or flight attendant, or whatever they're called today, would wave something underneath your nose to give you a new aromatic experience. Dinner is being served and it smells like steak. It was the most trippy experience I've ever had, but it was a very effective way to advertise. I thought that was cool.
One of the things that got really popular this last year and over the summer was the Pokemon Go. I know that from an advertising perspective, a lot of people were looking at that not because it's VR, but instead, it's augmented reality. I'm just wondering what you could tell about that and what the future of that ... I guess there's still people playing, but I don't see the kids running through the parks like they once used to. What is the future of augmented reality within the parameters of business or advertising or anything else?
David Polinchock: The difference is VR lets you step into a new world. AR enhances your existing world. Even from the early '90s, when AR was being used back then, you [inaudible 00:07:46] seeing a ton of B2B uses. Aircraft engine mechanics who can look at an engine and overlay the schematics of the engine right on it and not have to look at a book and do things like that. Fire fighters who can use it to tell where hot spots are within the actual building. You'll see much more of that in the future. They're now using it for ways to do inventory management. I just walk through the warehouse and look at things. I can start doing my inventory. You'll always see a huge B2B. It will just get more and more practical uses in the B2B side. On the consumer side, it's still going to take a while because even the HoloLens, which is the smallest-ish consumer, [crosstalk 00:08:37].
Kyle Davis: That's the Microsoft HoloLens, right?
David Polinchock: That's the Microsoft HoloLens. It's not an attractive look much like Google Glass back in the day. You won't see a lot of it, but I think in five years, augmented reality will be like our cell phones. Everybody will use it. It will be how we go about our everyday life. With somebody who goes to a lot of conferences and meets a lot of people and took 15 years to remember mom and dad because I'm really name dead with things like that, the thought of having a system where I could look at somebody capture their face, attach it to a name so that the next time I see them a year later, it can remind me who they were, that's awesome to me. If you think ... This drives every technology we use today. If you think about the future of Tinder when you just walk into a place, look around the room. It identifies who is there, does a facial recognition, matches them against your database. Then tells you, "Here's three people you should go talk to." There'll be some very cool uses in our day-to-day walking around the world.
Kyle Davis: It will be I think like modern-day Sims if people get the computer game reference, something above my head that says, "Hey, I'm single. Date me."
David Polinchock: She doesn't like the joke, but I keep joking with my daughter that I'm going to build a daddy app and all my app does is reject anybody that gets through her app. The sole purpose of the app is just no.
Kyle Davis: That's hilarious.
David Polinchock: I have friends who are working on virtual tourism. Think of how awesome it is that you can walk around a city and see real information about that city. Again, a story I tell from my travels, I was in Warsaw a couple of years ago. We spent some time looking for their last wall of the Jewish Ghetto, which turns out to be the inside courtyard wall in an apartment building. It took us forever to find it because there's no signs or anything that says what it is.
Once we found it, it's a brick wall. I just picture that if I drag my daughter around for two hours to find this thing and showed her a brick wall, she would have been like, "Dude, you could have pointed to any wall in the city. It doesn't matter," but if you think, "I'm looking at this wall and now information is coming to me." There's the official information, this, "The wall was built in 1938 or whatever. It was the remaining wall," whatever that official story is. Then in an AR world, I can tag the world with my own stories. You think the depth of information that we can now have on the world around us will be awesome in the future.
Kyle Davis: One of the interesting things when I was looking at Pokemon Go, but more importantly, just the parent company Niantic and their other game that they had, which I think it's Ingress or whatever it is, is that it really allowed for in some ways a tourism aspect component like you were talking about. I could walk around. There were statues a block from my house. We live in a densely-populated, urban area in Dallas. I can walk outside. There's statues that I don't go down that street. I've never seen it, but it's now a landmark in Pokemon Go or Ingress. It's saying, "Hey, if I want to re-up my Go or catch Pikachu, go over here."
What I thought was so cool about it from a ... I don't want to say from a data-mining perspective, but we can get to that in a moment. More from a virtual tourism aspect. It allowed me to see all the things that were around me. It gave me a brief history of what are these three lion statues that are attached to the side of my building that I've never seen before? That's a legit thing right next to my house.
David Polinchock: We're caught in this trap of wanting information and having way too much information. On a totally different front, we're starting to talk about the whole idea of what information is and what context looks like, what do things mean in context. When I'm sitting at home, I don't want to be bombarded with too much information. That's not helpful to me.
When I'm out in the world, that's when I really want information. Why am I not using some GQ app that when I'm walking around New York City, it's showing me the GQ best bars to go visit or telling me about if I look down this block, where I wouldn't see the speakeasy because it looks like a regular door, but it's labeled GQ speakeasy of the month. Suddenly, all of that information from things that have been very static for decades is now actually out in the real world and in a way that I can use it and access it to my desires, not to what they necessarily want it to be.
Kyle Davis: I have to give a plug to one of my favorite New York City speakeasies, Raines Law Room on 17th Street between 6th and 5th. You're welcome, world.
David Polinchock: Thank you. We'll definitely go there the next time we're in the city because speakeasies are a hoot.
Kyle Davis: They're great today. Today, they're great. Tomorrow, it's New York City. It will change.
David Polinchock: That ability to adapt information to how I'm flowing about the world is going to be one of the next big design challenges. I don't necessarily want flying billboards flying past my head as I walk down a street. We're going to have to figure out a new way. Voice control is great when I'm in my living room and I'm the only one there. Not as great when I'm walking down the streets of New York and having to yell, "Where is a good place?" Over and over again.
Kyle Davis: No one is going to help you. I think also too from a ... When I was in Prague a few years ago, this was right as the iPhone was coming in. I was using my iPhone at the time to just navigate around the city. I don't think Google Maps was even an app at the time. Actually, I probably was using Google Maps. I was using it to navigate around the city. I have no clue. Obviously, Google Maps and even the map functionality that's baked into iOS or the Apple iPhones has vastly improved, but I think having that ability to be able to say, "This is a spotlight where I know they speak English," or this or that, it allows me to know that, as a consumer, this might be something that I'm interested in. At least just for me, I think probably what is going to be interesting is an in-doc questionnaire that you say, "Here's what your interests are." That way we can present them to you.
David Polinchock: If you think about what Google does now with Google Now, it just starts to look at what you do every day. It starts to look at your interests on an aggregate basis. Some of that will just come automatically as the systems get better and smarter. Some of it might be based on, again, if I'm in Prague in the future, I would be able to see the places you tagged as somebody I know to say, "Oh, Kyle liked this place, so I should give it a try." Google is also ... They had an app within ... I know it was in the Google Glass, where you could look at words in another language and it would do the translation and show you the-
Kyle Davis: Translate still does that, and that is my favorite thing.
David Polinchock: Isn't that the most awesome thing?
Kyle Davis: It is, and for anybody listening, it is the trippiest thing you've ever seen. You can talk about it, David, or I can. It's nuts.
David Polinchock: It's a great way, again, when you're traveling around the world. It's the future of the universal translator and that ability to get ... A lot of times even just looking at street names don't necessarily make sense when you're in another country. That ability to be able to go, "Oh, that's what that is," totally changes.
Kyle Davis: In case people are wondering who are listening, what this Google Translate does ... This is the trippiest, most ... Bravo to whoever bought this within Google or whoever built it. It uses your camera. You can take a language, let's say it's Arabic. It may be a street sign or something like that. You take your camera and you put the word or the sentence like you're taking a picture of it. Then it will translate it to English on your phone as if it was baked into it. It is the craziest, most ... It will blow your mind. It's the coolest thing ever.
David Polinchock: Again, it has real value to people as you're traveling. That's something that's really, really valuable.
Kyle Davis: Yes, it's super valuable.
David Polinchock: That ability that in the future I don't even have to take my phone out. All I have to do is look at something. Through whatever mechanism, whether it be a Google Glass type device or the contact lenses that we see in the future, that ability to do it automatically like that is going to be so easy for people and really make life a lot better when you're traveling.
Kyle Davis: It sure beats having to learn Esperanto.
David Polinchock: Yeah.
Gail Davis: David, what clients should I be connecting you with? What kind of a conversation am I going to be having with someone? Are they going to say, "Hey, I need a futurist. I need someone on branding"? There's lots of different things here with this crossroad of media and technology and all of your experience. I'm trying to imagine where we'd direct people and you're the right answer.
David Polinchock: There are a couple of different ways. Certainly, I've been tracking emerging tech as it relates to brand experiences and brand storytelling for a long time. Really just helping people understand what does this new tool mean for me? I remember speaking, again, many years ago for the Newspaper Association and talking about Twitter. Twitter was maybe two years old at the time and they all looked at me like I was an idiot. "Why would we ever do that?" "Because your writers should be using it to direct people to their stories."
Now, of course, there isn't a newspaper that's not using Twitter. Helping people understand what works, what might not work, what they should look at today that doesn't have as much value today, but will be really valuable in six months, that process in helping them get through that. Then, Kyle, as you and I spoke about, I also do a lot of just basic storytelling. I think one of the biggest challenges we have in this overconnected, over informationed world that we live in is connecting. There's just way too much information.
We connect as human beings through the stories we tell. Brands do that even more so. Getting brands to understand in very simple ways. When you're using a tool like a Twitter or even Facebook, there's only so much information people are going to look at. With my 15 year old, you've got about 30 seconds before she's bored out of her mind or totally engaged. I've done over the years just a lot of basic storytelling exercises. "What is your brand story? Describe your story in a certain amount of words." Get away from the language that so many companies use, "We're the leading provider of peer-to-peer network solutions across the enterprise group." What the hell does that even mean?"
Kyle Davis: Jargon [crosstalk 00:21:00].
David Polinchock: It's all jargon that we talk about it. Because of my background doing children's theater, one of the "great" things about working with kids ... Let me put great in air quotes ... Is they're really honest. You don't go to a first-grader and say, "Do I look fat in this?", because they go, "Yes. Yes, you do." They're not being mean about it. You asked a question. They're giving you an honest answer. As a performer, they were always great because you knew right away when the audience was bored. They told you they were bored sometimes very directly, whereas adult audiences, we've all been to crappy performances where at the end of the show, the audience starts ... Somebody stands up to give a standing ovation and you're like, "But that sucks, but the person next to me is standing, so all right, I'll stand." You're polite about it.
I've done exercises where I've made the audience be first-graders and had executives tell their stories. That really gets people to think, "Oh, wait a minute. I'm using a language that we don't even understand." My favorite storytelling exercise is when you separate people and put people out in the hallway and one by one, have them come in and tell their story. At the end of three or four or five people, you're like, "Dudes, you're not telling the same story, and you're the senior marketing team. You can't describe your company the same way. How do you expect any of your audience to get your story?"
Kyle Davis: I think one of the things that we talked about in an earlier conversation was just the simplification of the story and what it actually meant. I know you were talking about one of the soft drink companies that you work for. Whether you speak to that or just give a general story about it, what does that look like? How does somebody who is a 45-year-old senior executive in marketing just get it so wrong? Then what are the steps that they can do just to simply ... Don't give it all away, but what is it?
David Polinchock: The first thing that happens is they get away from their own story. They don't experience their brand at all. I do a lot of retail walkabouts, and I've gone into stores with senior execs and they're like, "I don't know why you say it's such a bad experience. When I walked in with my 22 assistants, I got really great service." Try sending your spouse in and see what happens when they're not surrounded by 22 assistants who didn't call three weeks in advance to let them know the CEO is coming. Part of it is just that they're totally removed from the story. They're so invested in this language that we've all created that they really can't step away from it.
Sometimes it's just real immersion, really getting people to actually experience their own brand as their consumers do. Then a lot of times it's just getting people out of the corporate speak discussions that they're in. One of the things that we were talking about earlier that I did recently with the company I worked with for about a year was this idea of PechaKucha.
Kyle Davis: Can you give people a brief background or MachuPecha?
David Polinchock: Yeah, of Machu Picchu. It's a mountain in Peru ... No. PechaKucha is this great tool for PowerPoint. It's used as PowerPoint. Basically, the way it works is you get 20 slides, no words or very few words. They auto advance every 20 seconds. That's your entire presentation. When you think about corporate presentations that you've probably seen and that you've heard over the years, if somebody comes in and they're going to do an hour-long intro presentation. It's 162 slides. It's dense, and it's detailed. I heard the story once. Clients had told the agency that they could not have more than 30 slides. The client had over 100 slides. What they did because this is how they think, was they shrank the pages so that they could fit four pages on one slide. That way it was only 30 slides.
Gail Davis: Oh dear.
David Polinchock: Nobody is going to pay attention to that. Everybody knows it crap. When we started doing the PechaKucha training, it was really about when you only have 20 slides and they're auto-advancing every 20 seconds, you've really got to get to the meat of the story. You've really got to get to what's important and what's important to the audience. It can't be 20 slides, 20 seconds each just talking about me. It can't be 7 minutes or so of my background. It has to be 30 seconds of my background and six minutes of what's really important to the audience.
We found that people just ... Suddenly, we had stories. Suddenly, people were telling things that connected with me emotionally. Again, when you're the leading provider of peer-to-peer network solutions across the enterprise group, there is no emotional connection there. As more and more products have become commoditized, we move to products that move us in some way. They don't have to be big movement. I don't have to ... I only use this detergent because this is what my mother used before she died or whatever. We have to have these ways that we connect authentically to a story that makes us go, "I'm going to take product A over product B."
While we love to pretend that that's a B2C move, it's just as important in the B2B world. I can buy widgets from anywhere today. I buy widgets because I like you or because your story means something to me. If you think about your own business, there's a lot of people who do speaking. You connect with people and suddenly they trust you. They like you. You think about a great restaurant that you go to. You're a lot more forgiving when you have a bad meal. You go to a crappy restaurant, they get one miss. You're never going back. You go to a restaurant that you love and they're just having an off day, you're like, "Hey, they had an off day. I'm still even going to tip well because every time I come here, I have a great time. I have a great meal. They treat me well," whatever the criteria is for you as a human being.
That's what story does. It makes me go, "I love to go to that restaurant because I love the maître d'," or, "I love the chef who always comes out and tells me a story about this new menu that he's creating. I get a totally difficult vibe from it. I don't feel like I'm in a chain restaurant," kind of thing, even though sometimes I am. That I think is going to even become more important in our future, "Is that a way to truly connect to people and truly get them to understand what we stand for?"
Kyle Davis: I think one of the quotes I saw ... Actually, I'm going to let you tell the quote because I don't want to miss quote you. It was about ... Shoot, man. Maybe I need to pull it up. It was about not trapping people into something that's captivating them.
David Polinchock: What I've talked about for many years is the idea that we need to captivate the audience, not capture them. Many times, especially in advertising, we consider it a win that you can't turn it off.
Kyle Davis: You've got to play through the whole ad on YouTube.
David Polinchock: Right, we force you through pre-roll. We force you to do things. We force you to look at a big pop-up window that covers the whole screen. We're not captivating people at all. We're just capturing them. As I kind of joke, although it is honestly true, a people who are captured constantly will eventually revolt. Now, look what's happening. Now, look at the tens of millions of people who use ad-blocking software because the ads have no value to the experience. Then you see other things where ... How many times have you gotten an ad that somebody has sent you, a YouTube link or a cool interactive thing that some company did that said, "God, that's the coolest thing ever. You've got to see this," and it's an ad? You look at it and go, "Wow, that was really awesome. I loved that." You pass it along, and you know it's an ad, but it was cool and it captivated you. It moved you. How many times have you passed along a pre-roll?
Kyle Davis: There are two ads. Right off the top of my head, there are two ads. There is a Skype ad that just makes me cry. I am a 28-year-old man who cries at the Skype ad. It is two girls that were born with birth defects. It's three minutes. Go find it on YouTube. It's awesome. That's a plug for Skype, and they never met each other. Then they meet each other. It's just great. You'll cry. Then the next one is the Amazon.
Gail Davis: With the lion?
Kyle Davis: With the lion. There's an Amazon commercial that just came out. It shows a family bringing their newborn home and the newborn is playing with a tiger doll. Then the golden retriever is ...
Gail Davis: Left out.
Kyle Davis: Left out. I've had to explain this commercial to my mom, Gail, over here.
Gail Davis: Right, I didn't get it in the beginning, and now I love it.
Kyle Davis: She loves the ad. It's a great ad. Kudos to Amazon.
Gail Davis: It caught my attention enough to realize I wasn't getting it. I was like, "Every time I see this ad, I'm missing something." Then he explained it to me, and I'm like, "Oh my gosh. It's genius."
David Polinchock: You'll hear people talk. A lot of times, part of the fun is the discovery of it. You watch it once and it's like, "Eh, whatever." Then you see it that second time and you go, "Oh, they're putting a lion head on the dog. That's awesome." There's a great PSA that's running right now, where you see ... It's two teenagers in school and you see them. You think it's about them flirting and everything and it's how they sort of connect. Then it stops because at the very end, it's just a kid who walks into the cafeteria with a gun.
Kyle Davis: It's from the parents of Sandy Hook. I've seen that [crosstalk 00:32:20].
David Polinchock: You see, and then they run the whole commercial back, and you see it's always this group of people doing something fun and interacting and this one kid sitting in the background.
Gail Davis: Oh my gosh. [inaudible 00:32:34] me and I didn't even have the video.
Kyle Davis: By the way, we'll annotate this. We'll put those three ads in the show notes.
David Polinchock: Those are powerful ads. They tell a story. They give you something emotional, and at the end, they deliver a message. "Buy from Amazon. We do amazing things for our people and thanks for Amazon Prime, you can order it today and it will be there tomorrow. Your poor dog doesn't have to be ignored for three weeks while you wait for this thing to be delivered."
Gail Davis: You've given some great examples of storytelling in advertising. A big focus probably for the past couple of years in the whole speaking industry is how to not just give a speech, but how to tell a story. Obviously, I guess, you've got that down, but I'd like for you to talk a little bit about that. I think the same concept of capturing versus captivating someone with an ad rings true when someone gets onstage to give a speech. Talk about being captured. If your company is paying you to be at that meeting and you're sitting there, you're like, "Oh my gosh, it's 45 minutes." Then those other times that people just ... The cell phones go away. That's how I measure a good speaker, when I look at the audience how many people are on their phones and how many people aren't on their phones. What are your thoughts on the art of storytelling versus speaking?
David Polinchock: The first thing as a speaker that I always do is set up an illegal cell phone blocking system in the room, so nobody can get on their phones. That's a tool like-
Gail Davis: Do you really?
David Polinchock: No, of course not.
Gail Davis: I'm very gullible, so I was going to be like, "Oh my gosh."
Kyle Davis: We're going to have a scrambler in the room.
David Polinchock: I do use a lot of humor because, again, people connect to humor. There's a couple of pieces to it. One is, at least for me, personally, as a human being, I tell stories about me. I like to personalize the learning because that I believe connects better with people and helps them understand what I'm talking about. It's not simply a matter of saying ... As we just did, it's not a matter of saying, "Commercials need to connect, and we ignore commercials." Once we started sharing commercials that meant something to us, we told them in a very compelling way. We weren't just looking at a slide and going, "Well, here's the latest Amazon commercial. As you can see, they're using the time-tested tool of using a baby and an animal." We didn't talk about that at all. It was all about how it reacted to us, which lets the audience think about how it reacts with them and gives them that opening to go, "You know what? I always loved this commercial." Suddenly, you get that thing going in their head which connects the lesson to them.
It's humor because, again, I think in our business ... Particularly in our business world, we are told that work is not fun. We are told it's not about being fun. I have to tell you. I've done it for many, many years, but I think one of the worst things we've ever done is Take Our Daughters To Work Day, not because we should not involve our daughters in work, but because we bring nine year olds into a cubicle farm and we say, "Here's your future. Look what you're going to be doing when you're my age."
Kyle Davis: That's a great actual segue to what I wanted to talk about. One of the speeches that you gave at South by Southwest and one of the things that people can do with David is actually book a presentation with your daughter, who is a digital native and discussing why a 15 year old goes, "I don't use text messaging. I just do Snapchat. Get on my level. This is why Snapchat advertising is important."
David Polinchock: That's right.
Kyle Davis: Explaining to somebody why a 15 year old is just so much more ... Again, I'm 28. I've worked in tech. I understand technology, but there are things that 15 year olds ... Their life is going to be completely different than mine was, as my life is completely different than yours or my mom's.
David Polinchock: Yeah, what's been great about it other than ... Again, I love traveling with my daughter. It's a great thing for a father to do with his kid ... Is the truth is normally when we hear people talking about an age group, Millennials, digital natives, we're hearing somebody who is not one of those age groups talking about that age group. When I go to a presentation and I hear 50 year olds talk about what digital natives are doing, I know they have no clue because I live with a digital native and I could not explain her behavior. You know what I mean?
I remember I took her once to a conference with me. It was marketing to Millennials so it was a little bit older than her. At the end of the first two sessions, I would say, "Okay, what did you think?" She goes, "I have no clue what they're talking about. We don't use those websites. None of my friends have ever done that, whatever." By the end of the third session, she had no clue what was going on because she had stopped paying attention completely. Suddenly, when you get to talk to them about what they're really doing ... When a 13 year old ... The first time we did it at South by and I travel with my daughter, who is a user ... She's a user of tech ... And one other boy who is a maker.
When I asked William at the time, who was doing South by with us, to talk about his tech world and what he uses, he said he has a cell phone, a tablet, his school-issued laptop and the computer he built himself. The audience did what Gail just did. They all did that nervous laugh like, "What?" He went, "Oh no, it's really easy." Everybody should build their own computer. The audience had no clue what to do with that because he was a 13 year old saying, "I build my own computers." The thing that's awesome about digital natives today is, A, they can actually build anything they want, should they. They know how to throw up the code that they just created to do that RSS feed. They just throw it up to GitHub so anybody else can use it or Reddit or whatever.
They can share with people who may not be as code friendly as they are and they just have this way of looking at ... First of all, as all people that age have done since the dawn of man. I remember talking to my daughter when she was younger about ... We listened to an NPR story about the conflict in the Middle East. She's a kid so at the end of the story, she said, "What's going on as well? It's the blah, blah, blah." She just looks at us and goes, "Well, why don't they say I'm sorry?" It's just have that direct ... You had a fight, you say I'm sorry. It's all over.
We found out some really interesting things, things that audiences wouldn't think about. When I started joining social media networks long ago, it was all about numbers. It was the competition. "Whoa, you have 700 friends in Facebook. Dude, I got 1,100." That made me more important. If you think about how we gauged social media success back then, it was all based on big numbers. My daughter has a "social media network" ... Again, I'm putting that in air quotes ... On Evernote. They're like 12 of her friends. That's the whole group. They're not interested in ... They don't ... They'll watch the number one YouTube person or whatever, but they like the number 600th person on YouTube in that category better because they feel they can have a relationship with that person. They feel like ... Honestly, you tweet to Ariana Grande. Is she really tweeting back to you? Is there really a dialog going on? There's other artists that you can actually talk to.
They're really changing ... At my age, privacy is like a big scary thing. At their age, A, they don't really have privacy anyway because they're teenagers. I can walk into a room whenever I want to. There is no privacy, but they view it totally differently. They're looking at it and going, "Hey, if I get something out of it, I'm cool with it."
Kyle Davis: I think once they get to ... This is just having spent ... I've spent time thinking about PII, which is personal identifying information, in case people are wondering. I know what social networks I can use and I know what information to put out there that limit my impact on anything. I can have a conversation. I can reach out to so and so via Twitter DM. One of my big things ... Especially when I was living in New York City, all my personal Instagram account was taking photos of graffiti artists. Then I would find them because they would have a hashtag and they would have an @ symbol on the "graffiti," what I would call street art. I could then message them.
I got a guy named Hektad, who is the coolest guy in the world. He's ready to sell me anything. We talk all the time via direct message chat. It's a way to get to the artist, not just a street artist or a graffiti artist, but it's also a way to get to a musician or whomever you like if you believe in this little niche thing. Obviously, I think from a scalability standpoint, like a Ariana Grande or a Mariah Carey. Might be a little bit more difficult.
David Polinchock: The thing about the social media and something that I'm certainly learning from my daughter is in this business, in the advertising business, we talk about social media being all about relationships. We know that as human beings we can only have relationships with so many people. They're really looking at it and going, "If that's about relationships and it's about ... ", then I'm only going to have a network that's sizable to a relationship. I don't care that I don't have ... If you go to my daughter's Facebook page, there is nothing on there except for the stuff I post to share with her. She posts nothing at all there because they don't use Facebook at all. In part, which I also found interesting ... Millennials and ...
Kyle Davis: I'm a Millennial.
David Polinchock: And the Generation, you guys were at the beginning of this whole social media thing. You weren't realizing when you posted that picture of you throwing up in the alley at three o'clock in the morning that you thought was really funny, that that picture actually never went away.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, that picture never went away.
David Polinchock: Not of course that you ever did that, Kyle.
Kyle Davis: I never did that.
Gail Davis: And that your grandmother would eventually join Facebook and [crosstalk 00:43:44] at your old photos.
Kyle Davis: Yes, she would look and then she would post, "Hey, Kyle, call me." That doesn't happen at all, Grandma.
David Polinchock: Gen Z, they've learned from all of that, and they're like, "I don't post anything on social media because in five years, I need a job."
Kyle Davis: [crosstalk 00:44:02]
David Polinchock: Or they're applying for college.
Kyle Davis: Or they're using an ephemeral messaging service like Snapchat to send a quick, "Hey, here's a funny thing." Then it's gone 15 seconds after you watch it.
David Polinchock: Exactly.
Kyle Davis: For me, going back to social and talking about marketing and its impact, I've been the marketing point here at GDA Speakers and GDA Podcast, what I've been really focusing on is talking with different marketing companies. One of them that I was talking with was talking about how, especially with the use of bots and different programs to auto-add people on Twitter or Facebook, these giant farms out in the Philippines or Indonesia that start adding you on Facebook and you're like, "Oh cool, I got this great following." You don't. Or your Instagram account.
What these new marketing people are starting to realize is what's your legitimate engagement. How many of those 100,000 followers you have, how many of them are "ghost followers," meaning they just follow you, but they never engage? What's your engagement level? Then from a real marketing, data-driven perspective, how many of those people that actually engage with you interact with your content, not just view it, but interact with it? Then how many of them come back to you and how many of them can you convert?
Then you can start to see, "Hey, I got 150,000 people following me on Facebook, but you know those 300 that I have on LinkedIn, my engagement level is at 50%. 50% of that 50% of them buy. You know what, they spend more money than the 10% of people on Facebook." You start to dump all of your money on LinkedIn advertising, you start to dump all of your money on Twitter. Then you can really start to see what social media marketing is if you just have a tool that does that or at least you have an understanding of it. It's a very powerful solution or solutions like that are powerful.
David Polinchock: There'll be a lot ... Again, we all went for big numbers. We wanted more followers and whatever. We want a bunch of likes and things like that, which, again, it's easy to like things. On a social note, it's a real challenge now because now when we see that video of the atrocities in Aleppo, we tag it with an angry face. Now we feel like we've done our part, "I've said I'm angry about that."
Kyle Davis: Slacktivism.
David Polinchock: Yes. We're not really like, "Wow, what can we really do about that?" I think this Gen Z group is going to come up and be very different. At least within the circle that I live in ... I can't say this globally. They don't care about gender. They don't care about sexual orientation. They don't care about race. They don't care about money. They are coming up as a very open generation that I think will really hopefully make some changes in the world that we live in.
Kyle Davis: I agree. I was talking to another speaker yesterday who is going to be coming on an upcoming episode. He was just mentioning that right now the world is going through kind of like a growing pain. What we're getting at now is this generational shift. Some people are coming in and out of poverty and you see what's going on in Aleppo. I follow that, but there's people uploading these videos from their phones and you're saying, "Hey, this is my last will and testament of what's happening."
It's a powerful way of telling a story because it's a 20-second clip of a girl. You can hear the shelling in the background. Yeah, it's in Arabic, but you can read a caption. She's saying ... God, what's his name? I'm forgetting, but the Russian troops are coming. Bashar al-Assad's forces are coming. It's a very powerful way. It's 20 seconds. I think the context and content matters a lot more. It goes back to what you were saying. The abbreviated version is it's about quality over quantity. It doesn't have to be a bunch of crap. It doesn't have to be a bunch of jargon. It just has to be powerful and to the point and short. You don't have to have a huge social media following. It can be small, but powerful.
David Polinchock: As you were saying about those stories, they were also personal. It was, "I'm giving you this story of what's happening to me right now." How do you ignore that as human beings? That's the kind of storytelling that hopefully makes a positive impact.
Kyle Davis: I think we'll be ... The way that we've been ending and wrapping up these last few shows is just, one, reflection on 2016 and then, two, what does ... ? You have this futurist, early adopter ... Early adopter, that's the right ... Early-adopter lifestyle on your own with regards to ad tech and the future of marketing and the future of storytelling. What did 2016 ... ? What did it mean to you? What did 2016 bring to the market? Then the second part is what does 2017 look like in the future in the space of ad tech or advertising marketing as well as just storytelling in general?
David Polinchock: Especially here in this country, we've gone through a pretty interesting election cycle. That was really all about stories. No decisions were made on facts in this election cycle, and I say that on all sides. We were dealing with very core, human, emotional values. We liked someone or we disliked someone. If we disliked someone, it didn't matter that we thought they would be better or worse. We didn't like them.
I think this will be the year that we started talking about what context means. Of course, we've seen ... This is a topic I'm going to start writing about in the new year. We've seen this whole ... People call it fake news. I don't. I call it lying. The Onion is fake news. I know it's fake. It's funny. It's designed to illicit a chuckle. When I go to College Humor, I don't expect them to be true, but when I'm reading a "news story" ... Again, I'm putting this in air quotes ... A news story that says, "This Walmart store closed in Alabama because FEMA is about to use it as a holding center for people who own guns." That's not fake news. That's a lie. I think we will see that grow even worse in 2017. We will see that we have to do a lot more work on context and what does it mean when we get information.
Kyle Davis: Just two seconds on that. What are your thoughts ... ? I know that Facebook just came out with a new feature set. They're not removing those stories, but they're just putting a label on it that says, "This is fake." Does that matter to you with regards to context or does it matter from a news literacy standpoint?
David Polinchock: Here's the problem. When you look ... There are "news sites" ... I'm putting this in air quotes ... News sites out there that will tell you that Sandy Hook did not happen and that they were all actors and no children were actually killed because that wasn't a real school to begin with. There's millions of people who believe that. I don't care that you put a label that says, "Not been verified." The label should be, "Asshole."
Gail Davis: I hope your mom is not listening.
David Polinchock: [crosstalk 00:51:46].
Kyle Davis: I'll agree with that one.
David Polinchock: Even moms would say that.
Kyle Davis: Even Mom would say that.
David Polinchock: The problem is not ... There are some things that we do need better contextual labeling to say, "Well, yes, that is true, but here's three other things you should look at."
Kyle Davis: Here's the three Pinocchios or something like that.
David Polinchock: The challenge for us as human beings is ... Facebook can do whatever they want or not do whatever they want. It's really up to us. We've become really lazy in our consumption. It made the rounds a couple of weeks ago. A video was posted on YouTube. This man was breathlessly narrating, "I'm here at a border town in Mexico. I don't know what's going on, but suddenly thousands of Muslim men have shown up. I think they're trying to sneak across the border before Donald Trump becomes president."
I had to do work. It took me 10, 15 minutes or research. For some reason, all the images in the video were reversed. That's a sign right there that something is wrong. It turned out to be a video shot in Spain in September of refugees coming to a refugee aid center. The problem is even myself up until two months ago would be a lazy person who looked at that video and might have hit share. Wouldn't have taken the 10 minutes to look at the frame, freeze the frame on the word on the wall, to read it backwards, throw it in Google Translate.
Kyle Davis: Then you'd realize ...
David Polinchock: We all need to be doing that today.
Kyle Davis: It's the Spanish town that they own in North ... Or they have ownership. Spain has an area of land that's in North Africa that allows them to immediately transport people to the Strait of Gibraltar, which is on the other side of Spain. I've actually seen that video. I'm a policy [inaudible 00:53:46], so I'm geeking out. I can geek out on tech. I can geek out on policy. I agree.
David Polinchock: The challenge will be as human beings, we need to be going, "This is false news." We, as human beings, when we hear something, not an opinion. I can say, "I love the Affordable Care Act," and you can say you dislike it. We can have a discussion about why we each think about that. We can't say ... It's not an arguable fact that children died at Sandy Hook. I can't argue that. Part of the problem is when you want to believe that that is true, there is no argument that I can have with you. I'm going to show you a dead body of a child and you're going to go, "Oh no, they found one in a morgue." Dude, how do you even have an argument about that?
Kyle Davis: You can't.
David Polinchock: I think we're in a weird time. That's where I pin the hope on Gen Z because at least the Gen Zs that I hang out with are like, "Dude, that's stupid." I think in 2017 from an ad tech, getting on that point, what we'll see is a lot more data across screens and across content. As you were saying before, it's not just looking at, "How many likes did I get here? How many retweets did I get over here? What happened over there? It's who is doing that? How are they doing it? What do I think is triggering that? We'll be able to add in new data sets. As companies like AT&T grow bigger in their cable business and Verizon grows bigger and those things come together ... AT&T is a company that can say, "I can see what you're watching on TV and I know where you are." Eventually, they could potentially put those two data sets together. That becomes really interesting and if done correctly, would have real value to me as a consumer.
I think we'll see what used to be siloed data sets starting to come together. I also think, as has been said through centuries, everything old is new again. I think you also start to see people want to connect. I'll want to go to a store where they know me, not vaguely know me. We'll have to use our data to say, "Who is Kyle? What can I do for Kyle?" I just threw this up on Twitter today. It's part of the presentation I give. It's not always about price, but it's always about value. Consumers are going to look for, "Well, what value is this brand giving to me?"
Gail Davis: This connection concept is really interesting. I saw a video on Facebook last night that was saying, "Phones should be banned from conference rooms." If you get there five minutes early, what everyone is doing now is they're on their phone until the meeting starts. No one is saying, "Hey, you had a new baby. How is your wife?", or, "I heard your dad was in the hospital. What's going on?" That's all gone. If you would ban phones, you might just improve relationship building. I thought that was interesting.
David Polinchock: It really is. I've done a couple of events where we collected phones at the entrance to the room. Literally, it's like sometimes watching a meth addict going through a withdrawal, that first 10 minutes. People are still moving their thumbs in space. I totally agree with you. I think when we get rid of those distractions in many ways, then we are like, "Oh, you know what? I haven't seen Kyle in a long time. How are you doing?"
Kyle Davis: I don't know if we discussed it while we were recording or prior to this conversation, but I think one of the cool things about wearables ... I know that wearables are technically on the decline blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I like about let's say my Fitbit or even the Apple Watch is that for the first time, I don't have to check my pocket once I feel like I have a ghost vibrate. I can just see ... If I feel like something is going on instead of having to pull my phone out ... I know this sounds ridiculous because it takes two seconds, but instead of having to pull my phone out and light up the screen and then put my thumb in there ... I know I could do all of that in less than five seconds, but I can just roll my wrist over and go, "Am I getting a call? No. Okay, move on."
David Polinchock: Even when you are getting a call, you ... I just broke my Microsoft band and it's really throwing me because it used to be I could look at my wrist and go, "Yeah, that's not a phone call I need to deal with," or, "I can call that person later," or, "I know that's a telemarketer. I'm not even going to take the call." All those things which don't take me out of the moment, but you're 100% right. The minute you're at dinner and you have to take your phone out. Even if you're just ... You unlock the screen and it's just a quick little thing, once you're there. Let me [inaudible 00:59:03] quickly to Facebook. Doug Rushkoff wrote a great book and tells the story about traveling with this young woman in her 20s. Every time she walked into a party, all she did was go to her phone to look at where the next group of people were going. She never engaged in the room she was in. She was always engaged in the room that would be next that she wasn't at.
Kyle Davis: Right, that's awful.
David Polinchock: I think you're right. I think the wearables ... You see, wearables are declining because right now they mainly have a single purpose, which is fitness. Great purpose, but honestly how many people really care. I think when you see ... This is where augmented reality will be huge in driving a wearable market is once you're really giving me valuable information about the world around me, then wearables ... Again, maybe not your children, but your grandchildren will be like, "Grandpa, you had to take a phone out to look at it? It wasn't just right there in the world around you?" I think you'll see a boom in the coming years in wearables, but they'll do a different function.
Kyle Davis: Anybody who is listening to this, here is my ultimate wearable idea, at least from a fitness perspective, which is what they all do. I would love to have basically a Microsoft halo type glass that I could a wear on my face that gives me a HUD, a heads up display, that says this is how fast I'm going, this is how far I've gone, how many calories I've burnt, and just allows me to monitor that stuff instead of ... I love my Fitbit. Fitbit, please send me some more, but the flicking of the wrist just to see it while I'm running, throws the cadence off. If I could just look up it, it makes [crosstalk 01:00:58] a little easier.
David Polinchock: You know what, here's again the next generation is the context. "Hey Kyle, you usually go for a run on Tuesdays. The weather forecast is heavy rain. You should adjust your training today," or, "Based on your calender today, you're probably not going to get to the gym. Let's do this for lunch instead of that." Being able to give you actionable information that then allows you, that's where the fitness apps need to go in the future, is giving you that context.
Kyle Davis: They need to be more aesthetically pleasing. I'm wearing a blue Fitbit right now and while I love blue, blue is my favorite color, I make all my decisions based off the color blue. That's why I chose Columbia University as my alma mater and a few other things. They just need to look like a watch. They need to look a little bit more professional. I think the new ... We don't need to get into it, but I like the new Apple watch series 2, and there's a specific band that I like for it that just classes it up a little bit. Cool, again, is there anything else for 2017 that you think will be on the horizon or in the short term?
David Polinchock: I think that, as we talked a little bit about, I'm heading to the Consumer Electronics Show next week. I think the trends we're going to see is everything is connected to everything. Certainly, VR and AR, big trends for 2017, both in terms of what will change in the technology as well as what will change in how content gets delivered and how the whole experience changes. I have a 15 year old. I cannot wait for driverless cars. Self-driving cars are the best thing that will ever happen to me as a parent. I think we'll see a couple of trends like that really start to take place in '17 as well. I'll do some emails from CES and some pictures and send you what I'm seeing are the cool trends out there.
Kyle Davis: That's actually one of the thing's that we're going to do. If you guys out there listening, we're going to be posting updates from CES every day. I can't agree more on the driverless cars. We'll wrap up on that one. There's two quick stories. One was the guy who had the heart attack in the Tesla, and the Tesla using autopilot drove him to the nearest hospital.
David Polinchock: It's awesome, right?
Kyle Davis: It's ridiculous. Then two, there's a video that ... I posted it on my Twitter yesterday. It was a Tesla car, another Tesla using autopilot to just avoid an entire accident. When you start just thinking about what the future looks like with regards to driverless cars, whether it be Uber coming out with that Volvo driverless car to take you around San Francisco or if it's a Tesla or if it's a Ford or Chevy coming out with their own versions, I think that is the way. It makes the world a better place. It makes it safer. At the end of the day, if I'm getting driven to the hospital because I'm having a heart attack, it's worth the $90,000 with my P90D with Ludicrious mode.
David Polinchock: I will tell you, though, in the world of unintended consequences, there's also an interesting thing about driverless cars and car accidents. The number one source for organ transplants, particularly kidneys, is people who die in car accidents. If in 10 years nobody's dying in car accidents, we need a replacement.
Gail Davis: Interesting.
David Polinchock: We'll definitely do some pings from CES.
Kyle Davis: That sounds good. That's the Consumer Electronics Show, in case people are wondering. Cool, if anybody wants to learn a little bit more about David or read the transcripts or have questions with regards to the podcast, you can visit gdapodcast.com. For more information on David for your speaking engagements, you can visit gdaspeakers.com or you can call 214-420-1999. Thanks, David.
Gail Davis: Thank you, David. It's really been a pleasure.
David Polinchock: It's been great having a chance to talk.
Kyle Davis: Awesome. Thank you.