A Look Back At the Future of Marketing

A Look Back At the Future of Marketing

Every so often, I find it useful to look back and consider how my perspectives on the evolution of media, marketing and technology have changed over time. To see what I was passionate about at various points in my career, which ideas have stood the test of time (and which haven’t), and take a trip down technology’s memory lane (the companies that made it, but more interestingly the “next big things” that didn’t). Since I’ve been sharing my presentations on Slideshare since the “mid-zeros”, I have a nice record of these things. This post is a retrospective – hope you enjoy it.

EMERGE: 2006

This was the first presentation I made when I joined Digitas to head the agency’s emerging channels function. I was coming off a seven-year stint in startups — primarily in the streaming media sector, most immediately as head of sales and marketing for an early-stage online television network. But even then I wasn’t as interested in recreating the mass media model using next generation technology as I was in re-focusing my new colleagues at one of the world’s leading digital agencies on putting humanity at the center of marketing.


I presented a version of this presentation during my last week at Digitas — it didn’t go over so well with my live audience but went on to become my most popular Slideshare upload with more than 45,000 views. Real-time microcontent: Twitter was new and I distinctly recall being shouted down by a senior executive who was convinced it was a passing fad. Virtual worlds: Oh well — although I do redeem myself by adding an emphasis on the youth market’s embrace of massively multiplayer online games like Webkinz and Club Penguin. Five years later, that list would surely include Minecraft, so maybe I wasn’t that far off. The movement of music into the cloud, and (eventually) a resulting rise of alternative music models for the entertainment industry. The mainstreaming of online video. And the move toward a more mobile web: Apple was just about to release its first iPhone as I presented this.


Come the latter part of 2007, I was a partner at crayon and preaching the social media gospel. Lots of talk about the role of conversation in building relationships between consumers and brands. This is what I presented during my first appearance at a BrandManageCamp event (a few years later I would debut my microMARKETINGpresentation at another.)

R U READY?  2008

In 2008, I was beginning to explore the future of work and this is what I presented at the inaugural Inbound Marketing Summit. I spoke about social business design (although I didn’t call it that), the rise of collaboration technologies, the virtual workforce, and a move toward both the cloud and the crowd as fundamental enablers of business.


American Express asked me to present to its marketing team on how mobile marketing would come of age in 2008. As you can see in these slides, I didn’t necessarily believe that would be the case, but I did want to give them a fun look at how mobile would evolve over the coming few years. I railed against mobile advertising (a format I still believe is a bust), instead playing up the rising importance of mobile as a one-to-one engagement channel, the emergence of location-based services, the explosion of the Apps economy, and the promise of mobile commerce.


By 2008/2009, social media seemed to finally be heating up for marketers — with lots of lessons yet to be learned. Social Graces became one of my most-requested presentations, and this version represents the last update. Today, the thinking seems commonplace but even five years ago it came across as pretty bold. Because big brands were experiencing more stumbles than successes, the presentation has a general what-not-to-do tone. In these slides, I also recognize some of the seeds that would grow into the framework I introduced in microMARKETING.

microMARKETING: 2010

And finally, the presentation that I consider my social media swan song — the one that I’d use (in various versions over the course of two-plus years) to promote the thinking frommicroMARKETING: Get Big Results from Thinking and Acting Small. In it, I recognize many of the themes I built up over the prior four years, tied together into a unified framework for consumer engagement. Having used the same framework as a basis for my most recent keynote address — on digital marketing for public libraries — I find that the framework still holds water, although the case studies I chose for the book and this deck seem quaint by today’s standards.

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