The Death of Innovation

With the holidays, my sister and nephew visiting and some other things going on for me this week, I decided to take the week off and repost one of my favorites (from Feb 2010). Hope you like it! To all my new readers, welcome! This will be new to you. Happy Holidays!!

It’s happening. Innovation is dying. Not the act of creating or introducing something truly innovative—the word itself. We are killing the meaning of it. True, the dictionary is as lazy as the rest of us—defining it merely as the introduction of something new. But innovation is more than that. Something that is truly innovative makes you say “wow.”

Don’t believe me? Did you notice Apple’s words introducing the iPad? “Our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price.

Why didn’t they call it innovative? Because innovative is like poison ivy at summer camp. It has spread all over the place, except it doesn’t make anyone want to scratch anymore.

Google innovative and you’ll see what I mean. There are innovative cell phone rate plans, innovative insurance agencies, innovative banks, innovative savings accounts, innovative computer workshops, innovative plays made by innovative athletes…I could go on and on.

Companies now have Chief Innovation Officers, Heads of Innovation, and, my favorite, a Senior Brand Manager, Innovation & Business Development. The job listing for this last position states (and I’m not kidding), “…is a very strategic innovation & business development position in our [type of] business requiring a dynamic innovation marketer.

Agree with me yet?

Apple does. They know innovative is tired and worn out. That’s why they called their new product “revolutionary.” Even though I don’t forsee corporate Heads of Revolution or Chief Revolutionary Officers, I give us three years (maybe two) before we beat the crap out of that word too.

Telling us your product is innovative (or revolutionary) seems forced. Besides, isn’t the crowd the ultimate judge?

If your product doesn’t make us say “wow,” it’s not innovative. And if you told us it was, you’ve just lost our trust—and probably our business too.

So, go ahead, be innovative. But don’t tell us. Show us. And, hey, try being relevant, convenient, efficient and effective. That all works too.

Emerging Interactive & Digital Media Trends in 2012

I’m sure you’ve seen many predictions already for social media and technology in 2012. Here’s your chance to add your thoughts.

There’s a great discussion taking place on LinkedIn (it’s been going for 4 months) in the Interactive & Digital Media group. It all started with the question:

What are the few new emerging interactive & digital media trends in the next 1-2 years?

Augmented reality

Forget the QR code (well, not yet). Augmented reality will eventually blow away QR codes.

Ben Grogan's comment on Augmented Reality from LinkedIn

Check out some of these iPhone apps that use augmented reality. They include:

  • Golf range finder
  • GPS and compass apps for hiking
  • Sightseeing and travel guide apps

The detail and capabilities are what’s really exciting and impressive. We should see these capabilities explode in the next year or two or three.

Another interesting example is what the Moscow (Russia) Ministry of Internal Affairs did to try and improve road safety.

Near-field communications (NFC)

Many people agreed this was the field to watch. Cashless payment is just the start. Jon Cheung sees it as “an interesting social arena, that will make it easier to check into locations, easier to like things in the real world, and easier to share information, and a new element to games.

Bruce Condit adds a nice sense of the integration available:

Imagine, your customer walks in the door, they receive a coupon via BlueTooth promoting your latest special. They purchase the item or service, using the coupon that was broadcast to them, and they pay for their purchase using NFC. This would enable business owners to really target their offers based upon time of day, location, season, etc. It could also provide powerful demographics based upon coupon usage.

Social TV

Some social TV products are already on the market. We don’t hear too much yet, but I think we soon will. It’s a logical progression, with many comments on social and connected TV in the group discussion. (Look for comments by Zach Weiner, Nick Meyers, and Sean Connors)

As Sean Connors suggests,

With the dawn of wi-fi enabled televisions finally becoming more widespread, we’re on the cusp of another level of interactivity. I easily see digital content providers creating ways for viewers interact…the ability to reach across multiple platforms is just another added plus.

There are so many possibilities here.

Greg Yavello comment on Social TV, available on LinkedIn


We’re not just talking marketing and market segmentation here. We’re already seeing advances in personalization of search results. This will go even further to personalized decision engines or context-based recommendation engines.

Jon Cheung gives a great example:

Google knows what I like, who I talk to, and what I talk about, mash that against the Internet and Google should be able to customize a wall of content tailored exactly for me.

Many people talk about how facial recognition software will change things. And Megan Cunningham talks about how the entertainment industry is developing a more intimate relationship with its audience.

I think the emergence of personalized photo-apps (like the campaign we launched earlier this year with ABC’s game show, Wipeout) is another way of looking at personalization. And many other entertainment marketers have done this effectively as well, developing more intimacy (and often humor) between audiences and the characters in their shows.


I think we all realize the benefits and challenges this creates for advertising. In fact, I’ve talked here about advances in display advertising that were highlighted by Google recently.

All these changes in technology will bring exciting new interactivity and creativity to advertising.

Adrian Hernandez comment on advertising, available on LinkedIn

This will be fun to watch!

So, what are your predictions? Add them to the group discussion on LinkedIn, or feel free to talk about them right here.

World of Warcraft, Wipeout and Wit

As Christmas nears, we’re getting lots of gift ideas from commercials. I think ad agencies and brands should get ideas from some of the commercials too. In fact, I have two specific ads in mind.

World of Warcraft

First up is this brilliant commercial for World of Warcraft.

Boy, does this brand know how to target an audience—at least in this commercial. Their Chuck Norris ad was inexplicably dumb…but I digress.

I’m not a gamer, but I am a woman, which I think is why I like this ad so much. The girl in this ad has power, and that’s such an important message to get across to young girls and young women.

And no, I wasn’t offended by the obvious “motherf*cker” she mouths. You can’t hear it, but in the ad I saw on TV (not the above one) you can read her lips and see that’s what she says.

“So…my boyfriend gives me World of Warcraft for my birthday, and I’m like, ‘I said diamonds, motherf*cker.”

As a writer, I love this line because it’s so real. The “I’m like” is natural and so is the use of such a curse word. Plus, it gives us a sense of her personality. She doesn’t back down easily.

Wii Wipeout

The second commercial is for the Nintendo Wii Wipeout game.

Not only does Nintendo spectacularly use fun and humor in this commercial, but they entice you with a $50,000 prize.

I don’t watch Wipeout on TV, but I have seen plenty of clips. I do always wonder what happens to the contestants after—do they end up in the hospital? Do they end up on disability because of the way their body folded backwards when they bounced off a giant ball?

The Wii Wipeout commercial plays around with that notion very well. The former contestant, Joel, is frightened by sudden moves and noises. It’s exaggerated and just flat out funny. Plus, the demonstration of the Wii game itself, makes the game look like fun. If I had a Wii, I would probably buy that game.

And be happy I don’t because I’d try and win the $50,000 too. And I’m one hell of a competitor!

These two commercials are unique, creative, make you laugh and are just plain well done. Agencies and brands should take note. I had no trouble remembering what these ads were for after just one viewing. And I liked them so much I keep telling others about them. Truly the marks of terrific advertising.


The young women in the ad is Aubrey Plaza. I didn’t know who she was when I first saw the ad, but I’d say she is a perfect choice to represent power. Read her bio on Wikipedia and learn about how she had a stroke at age 20. Pretty inspiring. 

Carrier IQ: Enemy or Impetus to Solve the Privacy Dilemma?

Snapshot from video of Carrier IQ tracking with smartphone and logging screenI know we’ve talked about privacy here before, but a lot has been going on this past week, so I thought maybe we should talk about it again.

Privacy certainly isn’t a new issue (for an informative introduction, read Privacy Control of Growing Importance to User Experience), but it’s an important one. And things seem to be getting worse rather than better.

That could be a good thing.

For a while, we’ve been consoled by the premise that much of our information out there is treated as anonymous data. But now, we’re learning that anonymous doesn’t really mean what we thought it meant.

Anonymous data usually includes general details from your browsing history and location data. No personal identifying information (such as birth date or contact info) is attached to it. For example, apps that you have on your smart phone or tablet use location data to forecast traffic congestion, offer up weather forecasts, suggest restaurants, and more.

The problem is that the trail of data you leave on the Web while shopping, browsing, and interacting on social networks can easily be examined and traced to your real identity.

So, in the wrong hands this could put you at risk.

Last week, news about Carrier IQ tracking of all activity on many smartphones spread like wildfire in gusty Santa Ana winds. Wiretapping suits have been filed. Many people are upset and yelling for changes.

This, again, is a good thing.

Carrier IQ may or may not be the scandal it seems. (Read why not here.) In my opinion, however, Carrier IQ is not the issue we should be talking about.

It’s time we all talk about solutions.

Crowdsourcing just may be the answer. Obviously, with the prolific use of laptops, tablets and smartphones, immense data tracking and recording is taking place. It’s the nature of the technology.

Also obvious is the need to step up protection of every user’s privacy. We don’t want to give up our devices, but we don’t want to completely sacrifice our privacy either.

Who better to ask about possible solutions than the users themselves?

What information are we willing to sacrifice (as a whole)? And what details need to be kept private and secure at all costs? How do we keep convenient features that rely on tracking but still feel secure?

The next great innovative company will be the one that solves these privacy problems. With the advances in technology today, we know it can be done. We just need all the companies that profit from tracking and sharing this data to develop the will to solve it.

Your voice on this issue is the key to stirring up that will. So, please, use it to keep telling phone carriers, manufacturers, retailers, government and more what you want. At the very least, ask them what data they track and how the information is used and shared.

The conversation is already started. It’s now up to you, me and all of us to keep it rolling.