My eyes are down here: how marketers are adapting to smart phone usage

As I strolled the streets of Chelsea one chilly Saturday morning, I noticed a sidewalk ad – literally, stenciled on the sidewalk. Huh, I though, gorilla marketing takes a twist.

But why did I notice this ad that blends in with old bubble gum and uses the most basic of color pallets? I realized it was because I was on my smart phone! With 50%+ global penetration of internet usage, largely driven by smart phones, the sidewalk has become better marketing real estate than a 40 foot billboard by the highway.

Second world cities have beat first world marketers to adapting to this monumental change in consumer behavior – the text neck. In Santiago, the cross walk lights are built into the curb cuts now.

And Chinese city Chongqing has set up “no phone” pedestrian lanes, so fast and slow walkers are equally accommodated – something I’d love to see rolled out in Herald Square.

Next time you are out and about, make sure you watch where you are going.

Urban Dictionary for business terms

In chatting with folks from engineers to analysts, I’ve realized not all business terms are widely known, and so I’ve made an Urban Dictionary for a few common concepts below.


An internet ad that has made first contact, but did not penetrate the attention bubble. For example, when I buy a television on Amazon, suddenly the internet gets the impression that that it’s the start of a collection of 55″ flat screen TVs.


Not to be confused with a kegger. During my MBA, I was very confused when I showed up for the Delta Sigma Pi party. 

CAGR stands for compound annual growth rate, i.e. the smoothed, average rate of growth over several years (like a bikini line after waxing). 

CAC (Sponsored by Blue Apron)

Customer acquisition cost. This is how much you’re willing to bribe someone to try your product. Think all those Blue Apron coupons you get in the mail, basically paying you to try it. 


Did the bribes work? How much is each sucker customer spending? That amount is your average revenue per user.

VC Discount

The VC Discount is the amount of venture capital money a consumer burns through by happily accepting all the CAC offers without becoming a loyal customer. This is calculated as follows:

For example, you may buy a $10 per month MoviePass to buy one $15 movie ticket per month. With no theater subsidy, that’s a 33% savings (1 – 10÷15)!


No, it’s not a pizza. A deliverable is a thing that your client or manager swears to you, in a contract signed in blood, is precisely what they want and is *very important*. You then work on the project for weeks or months, countering with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Maybe you even miss a couple of your kid’s baseball games. And as soon as you deliver it, they smile and nod, and when you leave, they put it in a drawer, never to be spoken of again.


Who am I? A real question as the physical/digital divide gets blurrier

Who am I? Many a wise man, from Beanie Man to Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables, have asked this question over the years. And with each individual’s growing digital presence, the question becomes more challenging to answer. Not only is a different piece of ourselves presented at work, school, and home. Now different aspects of the self are also presented via the different digital platforms we engage with. We are being shaped by what we consumer, by our digital socialization, and by how we interlink our physical and digital realities.

You are what you consume

Similar to the truism “You are what you eat”, the modern equivalent “you are what you consumer virtually” rings true in this digital age. My inbox has provided a retrospective of my digital self of late. Rather like a string of Facebook Memories, GDPR has surfaced all sorts of websites with Privacy Policy updates that I’d long forgotten, that are vestiges of my digital self from 10-15 years ago. It’s fascinating to see what I was interested in as a teen and reflect upon how those interactions have shaped me today — but equally frightening how many people have my e-mail address!

Projection, personification, and socialization

It is easy to project perceptions and feelings onto increasingly human-like and sophisticated AI, particularly in the realm of voice assistants. With increasing openness to the Alexas and Siris of the world comes a new level of openness to such AI shaping our behavior and thinking. Kids provide clear illustrations of this. Children today may not believe in the tooth fairy, but they believe in Siri and Alexa. Not only do children consider these voice assistants friends; they also see them as a source of encouragement. Think about it – if you ask Siri a question, she answers honestly and admits when she can’t answer. She never gets frustrated, no matter how many questions you ask. If you struggle to express yourself fully, Alexa offers non-judgemental, friendly reactions. Inc. Uncensored cited a story of a child learning English gaining the courage to be vocal through interactive dialogue with Google Assistant.

Connecting the digital and the physical

With our augmented brain, a.k.a. our phones, continuing to connect the dots with our physical selves, we will increasingly see ourselves and the physical items around us as having digital identities as much as physical ones. Apple has already released new features of its ARKit to developers, and look how one creator has already connected digital information to physical items: he’s connected his account data to loyalty cards and passes. This pairing of physical and digital removes not just the logistical separation of information, but also the mental separation.

 Easier to use loyalty cards with AR

Easier to use loyalty cards with AR

There is much to be wary of — or at the very least, to be aware off — as the information age continues to transform not just our daily lives but our beings. I, for one, have found cyborgs in the Sci-Fi universe fascinating and hope to evolve into a hopefully good-natured one myself. This is a space I will be watching – so stay tuned!

 What a friendly-looking cyborg!

What a friendly-looking cyborg!