AWSC: Internet-bad vs Internet-good: Mitch Joel and Andrew Keen Debate the Influence of the Internet

There are a lot of topics that spark debates: religion, politics, Mac vs PC, Nikon vs Canon, Patriots vs Seahawks, and the list goes on. The good thing about debates is that they spark a healthy conversation. The bad things about debates is that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

Some debates are vanilla, some debates appear to be chocolate and end up being chocolate chunks with a drizzle. Earlier this week I got to witness a debate that ended up being the later: Is the Internet the Answer? Debating its Future Influence on Marketing and our Lives at FFW Advertising Week Canada.

Andrew Keen is an entrepreneur who recently released a book The Internet Is Not The Answer, in which he argues that the Internet contributes to inequality, unemployment, and surveillance. Mitch Joel, on the other hand, is a man behind the Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete, living and breathing digital revolution. Needless to say looking at the credentials of the panelists it was clear the debate was going to heat up.

Keen approaches the Internet the same way people looked at the Industrialization referring to the days when we stood in line to pick up a newspaper as the old-days. As soon as he made his opening statement it became clear I was going to stay on Joel’s court regardless of my education background being in the good-old-communications.

After stating that the Internet, and digitalization as a whole, are the cause of unemployment Keen referred to the jobs created by the Internet as the Gig Economy which takes jobs away from the working class. Quite frankly I believe that those dated definitions of social structure are no longer applicable to how we exist today. People of the ‘working class’ often exceed the incomes of white collar jobs and we are not a caste society. North America has gone through a rough recession and the Internet has allowed for people to not only expand their business using the World Wide Web but create their own jobs and run business they would not have been able to otherwise.

The web has an ability to increase visibility, grow customer base, and reach overseas markets. Without web presence a business is not a business and these days sometimes all you need to be a business is a website. Owning a retail store is an expense that runs many people into the ground but running a store on-line can be done by a single person out of a living room and many people do it quite successfully.

In the old days without the Internet bands could not be bands if they were unsigned. Today, even in this saturated music market, bands can become popular without any label support by getting their music out there for people to hear. You no longer absolutely need a music label to survive, talent and hard work can actually get you fame. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis got signed after they released The Heist and while they do charge for their music some bands (like Odesza) choose to giveaway their music for free making bank on tours, merchandise, and the ever-increasing demand for vinyl.

Admittedly the journalism industry was the most impacted by the Internet but it also allowed for people who could not get their content through to print publications become a person of interest for those same publications by growing a readership through their personal blogs (Mitch Joel being one of them). It allowed stay-at-home moms, retirees and people with weird hobbies to find ways to make money, supplement their income and survive with grace by doing what they enjoy. Yes it comes at the cost of advertising, but what business doesn’t need advertising to survive?

To touch on Keen’s last point, surveillance, I would like to bring your attention back to the good-old-days of Michel Foucault and Jeremy Bentham (the Panopticon model) – surveillance has always existed and it will always exist with or without our consent. There are probably at least a dozen cameras you pass on your way to work, do you know where that footage lives?

The Internet offers us a choice to decline the situations in which we are going to be surveyed at the cost of not using the services but we chose to agree at the cost of knowing that our information will be used (at least) for targeted advertising.

Internet is progress. It was that way when it first became a term and it will continue to be so simply because we cannot control it as a single enterprise. Although the web is governed in many ways at the end of the day it is a digital world created and operated by people.

The digital revolution is what we can do with the tools the Internet has to offer and while I agree that the fruits of such technology are not beneficial in all parts of the world (and not even in all parts of North America) the modern society we live in here now has been benefiting from the benefits of the Internet in ways no one had expected even when the built the first Personal Computer.


Originally published on Advertising Week Social Club here.

#FFWD2015: Five key takeaways from Twitter Canada session

On Wednesday FFWD Advertising Week hosted Twitter Canada for an insightful session about the #PowerOfAtweet. The panel consisted of Rita Ferrari, Director, Brand and Product Marketing at shomi, Kristi Karen, Director of Media, Consumer Engagement and Agency Partnerships at Mondelēz (Oreo), and Derek Hutchison, Head, Enterprise Social Media at RBC. The conversation, moderated by Jamie Michaels from Twitter Canada, covered success which these three very different brands were able to achieve on Twitter.

If you live in Toronto over the last month or so you have more than likely come across shomi billboards, TV or digital ads all throughout your daily routine. Ferrari’s team has been aggressively promoting shomi using a rich variety of channels including Twitter using some of the most innovative solutions the platform is able to offer. Their results of close collaboration with Twitter were a 2.3 increase in site visitations.

Kristi Karen lead the Oreo team during their collaboration with Sochi Olympics, and we all know how successful that campaign was. Their promoted tweets resulted in 14% to 24%  engagement increase. And while a bank might not seem like a Twitter account you’d want to follow RBC was able to achieve a 200% increase in positive sentiment by supporting team Canada during the same Olympics.

Throughout the discussion 5 key takeaways came up:

1. Take adventure of Twitter’s Account Associates: they are there to help you achieve better results not only by making suggestions about targeting but by working on your goals towards more innovative solutions.

2. Be creative with promoted tweets and Twitter cards. The targeting possibilities are fantastic and CTAs have a lot of potential to increase engagement. For example shomi used Twitter cards to encourage people to add their favorite shows to calendar.

3. During high-times or prolonged public events that require daily responses having a war-room will help the best ideas and solution rise to the top. Oreo had one during the Sochi Olympics and the creative outcome was incredibly attention grabbing.

4. Twitter is a great place for reputation management, software cannot possibly do that job as well as a real person. Having a team handling incoming mentions is worth the investment, especially if you’re a company that has a potential for getting a lot of questions, concerns or complaints, the labour is a worthy investment.

5. Whatever your brand challenge is Twitter alone will not solve that issue. Traditional media support is still as essential as it was a decade ago.


Julia Pott for Oreo from Hornet on Vimeo.

FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week Toronto: Hello 2015!



If you’re anything like me getting into a work-ready state of mind after the holiday break takes a while. Though the break was only a couple weeks, cold wether makes the mornings rough and commute particularly painful. 

Maybe we all just need a little push of inspiration…

I find conferences to be an excellent point of motivation. Aside from the potential of new learnings the ongoing discussion stimulates the mind and awakens creativity – and yes, whichever title you might hold in the industry ideation kick starts a healthy progress forward.

In Toronto the year always starts with FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week (January 26-30), a full week conference featuring talks by global thought leaders, luncheons, and evening events.

The Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) has curated an excellent line up of over 40 talks, half-day events, and evening activities on topics ranging from big data and Internet to branding, design, start-ups and tech giants, social media and education. There is something from everyone regardless of the niche and more than a handful of reasons to attend.

Here are my top 3 picks for each day and you can see the full schedule/register for events here.

January 26, 2015

8-10AM Opening Breakfast: Kevin Newman, Correspondent and Co-Host, W5/fill-in Anchor, CTV NATIONAL NEWS, reflects on storytelling in a digital world.

12-2PM Opening Lunch: Is the Internet the Answer? Debating its Future Influence on Marketing and our Lives.

4-5:30PM Yahoo Canada Speaker Series: From selfies to cinemagraphs: The new content marketing (Yahoo + Tumblr) run by Justin Scott, VP of Brand Strategy at Tumblr AND #Special1s Campaign Case Study run by Richard Stanley, Director, Head of Marketing Services and Creative Services.

January 27, 2015

8-1PM 2015 Change Makers Conference: half day event showcasing innovative social marketing and public sector campaigns. Stephen Dubner, author of Freakonomics and Think Like a Freak, is the keynote speaker.

9-10AM Morning Master Series: Brand Concepts as Representations of Human Values presented by Sergio W. Carvalho, Associate Professor of Marketing Rowe School of Business, Dalhousie University.

11:30-12:30PM Applied Arts Session: Going Steady: Successful Client- Creative Agency Relationships. Moderated by Will Novosedlik from Applied Arts, panelists: – Aaron Starkman, Creative Director of Rethink and Molsons, Matt Hassell, Chief Creative Officer of kbs+ Toronto and The Keg, Diti Katona, Chief Creative Officer & Founding Partner of Concrete Design Communication.

January 28, 2015

9-10AM Morning Master Series: Building Brands in a world of Customer Centricity

Partnership Group Session presented by Alan Middleton, Executive Director, Executive Education Centre, and Assistant Professor, Schulich School of Business, York University.

12:30-1:30PM Mintel Session: The Millennial Consumer: Understanding How Brands and Media Can Connect, an interactive session presented by Jason Praw, Head of Canadian Research at Mintel.

1-2PM Twitter Canada Session: 140 Characters and Beyond: Exploring the Power of a Tweet featuring case studies from Target, Rogers and Mondelēz.

January 29, 2015

9-10AM Morning Master Series: Mining Consumer-Generated Product Reviews to Automate Market Structure Analysis hosted by Xin “Shane” Wang is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Ivey Business School, Western University.

2:30-3:30 Sharethrough Session: Native Advertising: Is it the Answer to Driving Engagement on Mobile? – a look at the various ways for monitoring content.

4-5PM Google Speaker Series: How to Delight Users and Drive Business with Mobile presented by Adam Green from Google Canada’s Agency team.

BONUS: 8-12AM Ad Ball: Graffiti themed Ad Ball hosted by Yahoo Canada who will transform Uniun nightclub into vibrant urban space mixing traditional elements with the unexpected.

January 30, 2015

9-10AM Morning Master Series: Starting A StartUp: Theory and Practice moderated by Prof. Ken Wong, panelists: David Kincaid, Founder, Level 5 Strategy Group and Bram Warshafsky, Founder and Partner, 5Crowd.

10:30-11:30AM Visible Measures Session: Mastering Adaptive Marketing addressing the issues surrounding adoptive marketing.

12-2PM The Globe and Mail Closing Lunch: Susan Krashinsky, advertising and marketing reporter for The Globe and Mail, in conversation with Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather, New York – enough said.

See you all there!

The end of the Entrepreneurship series

It’s now been a year since I started the Entrepreneurship series posts and as I had hoped they offered a lot of insight into successful entrepreneurs’ minds. “A quick chat with Stephen Lake, CEO and co-founder of Thalmic Labs” will be the last post in this 10 part series, I hope you enjoyed them!

As it goes from the first to the last, all equally important:

10,000 Hours of Entrepreneurship – where it all started

Brewing up new business: Darren Smith on launching Lake of Bays 

Kevin McLaughlin on launching AutoShare

First year from the founders of Wildfang

Julien Hobeika, in business of making better plans

Jean-François Bouchard: reinventing the ad agency model 

Mark Bowles: Green value in EcoATM

Frank & Oak: the men’s brand founded by Ethan Song & Hicham Ratnani 

Q/A with Marcel LeBrun, SVP and GM for Salesforce Radian6

A quick chat with Stephen Lake, CEO and co-founder of Thalmic Labs