This visual lie is going to cost lives.

It’s March 26, 2020. The US now has more COVID-19 infected people than any nation. The not-elected-by-a-majority “President” is proposing to categorize the level of infection county-by-county. Presumably this is in support of “restarting the economy.”

Here’s what’s going to happen.

The “President” and his minions will start trotting out a MAP. The map will show the counties, color-coded. They’ll use this to talk about the fact that things are OK.


Showing a land-mass map to represent human-scale statistics is a lie. The eyes of viewers are receiving a verifiable misrepresentation. We’re accustomed to seeing geographical representations, so we brush it off. It’s “convenient.”

Lying about facts is illegal.

This lie is going to cost lives.

I encourage every responsible news organization to refrain from repeating the lie. All data visuals representing the scale of infections should show THE SCALE OF INFECTIONS, not the scale of the land where infections happen to be.

Some time later when we’re mopping up, let’s put all the heartless asses who used these lies in jail.

Web Video Hosting Is Dying (Slowly)

Late last fall, I wrote about Facebook's technical lock-out of embedded videos (  In earlier drafts of that post, I speculated that we would see a video-hosting company offer Facebook-native upload as a response.

Yeah, that didn't take long.

Today (3/1/18), Vimeo announced this:

"That's why, if you upgrade your membership, you can now publish videos natively to Facebook and YouTube, right from Vimeo."

In English - put your videos on Vimeo, and Vimeo will put them on Facebook & YouTube for you.

It's a sensible move, and one I expect Wistia, Vidyard and others to follow. It's unavoidable; they can't remain the hub for their customer's video content and leave the massive audiences of Facebook & YouTube out. But it changes their business.

The technical premise of video hosting was video management and delivery on the Internet; the Web, mainly, but in apps and other platforms as well. It's the same basic premise that YouTube aimed at @11 years ago.

But where YouTube - thanks in no small part to the backing of YouTube's owner, Google - achieved breakout consumer success for a decade, the smaller hosting companies grew mainly as services for 'prosumers' (Vimeo's filmmakers), business and marketing.  They could add value, though, because they provided end-to-end service; the video you watch on my website thanks to Wistia, is logged & managed by Wistia.

Now the platforms with a critical mass of viewers (Facebook, Google/YouTube - we'll see about Amazon) are calling the shots.  It's not enough for Vimeo to offer a fantastic video management / video viewing experience on open Web sites. Too many people spend too much time on those platforms; Vimeo's customers can't skip them just for technical loyalty to open standards.

This move by Vimeo really puts Vimeo in a different business.  Yes, they can push the video file to YouTube and Facebook - it's actually not particularly difficult.  They're no longer in control of the end-to-end delivery, though.  Will Facebook or YouTube push full stats back into Vimeo?  Haven't looked, but I'd be surprised. Who controls the embed codes?  YouTube and Facebook.  Who can push ads or control placement?  YouTube and Facebook.  And so on; as I said, they're moving into a different business.

I'm not interesting in being the last guy clutching my Betamax; markets and standards move on, and winners take scale.  It's not all bad, it's not all good, it just happens. I get that.  But it's worth noting that such a thing has happened.




Marketing To Millennials With Media

A journalist enquired about millennials & email; the research turned up a few surprises!

Do millennials use email? 

Adobe's recent consumer-email survey - surprisingly - noted that millennials are obsessed with email. Nearly half of them check their email while still in bed in the morning; more than half check email at least every few hours. (

Why is it important to market to them with email? 

Millennials are multi-channel, but email is a frequent and long-term choice.  Forbes says "If brands want to use email effectively, they must make sure the content is both helpful and relevant."

What advice do you have for email marketing to them? 

Use visuals, like video & GIFs!  A recent Harris poll showed millennials have a 2-to-1 preference for visual communications, compared to Boomers. 70% of poll respondents said they use visuals in their own communication. 

Will it work? 

Done personally and well, yes; done frequently and poorly, worse than no.  While millennials are more excited to check their email (Adobe Slide 19), one-third say they are most annoyed by irrelevant email. 

As a parent of 2 millennials, I consciously choose channels & media based on purpose when communicating with them.  Email is NOT the act-fast channel; that's text.  But rich content - like videos or visuals - is more navigable in email, even on a smartphone.  (While mine use their smartphones for many things, they haven't abandoned their notebook computers by any stretch.)



AI & Marketing

My response to a recent request for thoughts about AI & Marketing...

What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in

2018 kayak & lifejacket sales will skyrocket as marketing departments paddle through  floods of hype about AI in marketing.

A few large companies with coherent data strategies will have a few ah-hah moments of AI-guided success; the smart ones won't say a word about it.

The real AI-in-marketing action in 2018 will be lab work; wise CMOs will watch, listen, research and learn, but hold off on large investments.

What impact do you think AI will have on marketing in the longer term (5-10 years)?

Dominant players will become still more dominant; absent civil or legislative backlash,  data-begets-data and AI cost/scale advantages will transform marketing (back) into a service companies buy, rather than a function they perform - from Mad Max back to Mad Men.

OC (Outside China) Facebook, Google and Amazon will split most consumers;  Microsoft will mount a serious challenge to Amazon in B2B marketing as LinkedIn blue fades into Azure.  

If adolescence doesn't blossom Siri to She, Apple will niche out; persona will become the new design. Attention and permission will become dual-mediated; my (personal AI) assistant will talk with your (marketing AI) assistant. 

What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the future to work with AI?

Marketing pros and orgs will require a dual-minded balance of IQ and EQ.  AI will ratchet up the pace of the pace of change again; it will feel like the singularity.  But people - not algorithms - will still be the key decision point, and "feel" will still drive their decision; design, media and messaging out of sync with the consumer's point of view will fail.

Effective marketing organizations will figure out the balance of process and culture to pair soft and hard skills. Above all, the ability to learn, and to integrate new knowledge and existing skills, will be vital both personally and professionally.


The Most Common Lie: US Map Visuals In Election Years

Some years ago I spent a bunch of cycles tinkering with US map visuals, trying different methods to represent population more accurately. It irked me - and still irks me - to see important measures like votes distorted and mis-represented by organizations whose job it is to convey accurate representation.  Even - by far the most accurate-numbers news source I know - still has a damn red-state-blue-state GEOGRAPHY map on their home page.

Painting the Montana and Wyoming land mass red, or those of Oregon and Washington blue, is a visual distortion equivalent to giving them 2x-8x their actual number of people (or electoral votes).  Likewise, coloring in Massachusetts whatever you shade you like understates their numbers at least 2x.

I've had smart people say "Oh, but I know that Wyoming doesn't have that many people."  Bah. Baloney. One, nobody does that math in their head except Josh on the West Wing (and he's a fictional character like Wyoming's extra electors.) Two, that's a rational response - your limbic system already went into a panic over all the red (or all the blue) that's on the screen lying to you about the race.

This is just one solution - not nearly as elegant as the NY Times rectangle map described in this video, but this one is free. (Here's the Illustrator file - someone send it to CNN please.)

Thanks to Vox for a great video on the issue.  

These issues are too important for such poor communication; a journalist making the same distortions with numbers would be called on the carpet. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than words - people get them first & faster, and if they read at all, will likely be interpreting what they read based on what they've already concluded from the visuals.

See earlier blog post.  Pity nothing's changed.