Brave – A whiff of fresh air!

•June 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Have you heard of the Brave Browser? Well it is entirely different ecosystem founded by Brendan Eich of Mozilla fame which intends to bridge the current broken intrusive advertising model. Brave is very focused on improving the online experience, and this new token-based system called BAT (Basic Attention Token) has multiple benefits for users, advertisers, and online publishers. Integrating BAT with blockchain technology ensures user anonymity and fairness while using Ethereum gives them experienced support from a market leader in smart contract technology.

What is wrong with the current model and why Brave is a great idea?

When an user downloads a page it also downloads lots of other pieces of codes (tracking, re-targeting) through javascript. This actually slows your pages down, drains your battery life and increases your data charges. To top it off privacy takes a back seat. The growing unhappiness with this experience has caused many users to install ad-blockers. The increased adoption of ad-blockers, and the many middlemen that require payment (ad exchanges, audience segmentation platforms, tracking services), has led to lowered revenues for publishers. In addition, advertisers often don’t have a transparent view of their ROI. Data becomes unintelligible as it passes through multiple middlemen in the fragmented pipeline. Furthermore, analytics products that are provided by the advertising platforms (such as Facebook) are prone to principal-agent conflicts. The situation is pretty grim as it looks.

The Brave browser blocks all ads and JavaScript trackers out of the box. With ads removed, it provides an alternative replacement source of income for publishers through user donations. Users deposit money into their browser’s “wallets” and decide on a monthly budget for donations. The browser then anonymously tracks all sites visited by the user over the following month. It then divides the earmarked donation funds amongst the sites, in proportion to the amount of attention spent by the user on each of them.

Since the browser, and not an external JavaScript file, is doing the tracking, more accurate metrics can be collected. Attention is measured based on the browser’s active tab and the “incremental duration and pixels in view in proportion to relevant content”.

This system is currently operational. Publishers are receiving donations. Brave has shown that an alternative is possible, and made impressive progress towards it.

Donations alone cannot support publishers, however, and advertising is required in most cases. This brings us to the second part of Brave’s solution: the Basic Attention Token and the advertising economy.

The BAT is an ERC20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain. It is the unit of account in this new advertising ecosystem.

The flow of value in the Brave ecosystem begins with the advertiser. They send BAT tokens to the user’s browser. As the user views the ads, the received tokens become unlocked and are shared between them and the site publisher. Brave also receives a payment, which according to the team will never be larger than the amount received by the user.

Couple of great things happen here:
1) There is total transparency – value transferred between advertiser, user, publisher and brave….all on a public ledger.
2) User is remunerated for their attention towards the advertiser

This could give rise to a new economy….when users will passively accumulate BAT tokens as they browser the internet. They will use these tokens as a currency to buy subscriptions, play games, access premium content, etc.

The Brave team has a genuinely new take on the web advertising model. The browser is open-source and it’s internal operations transparent. The basic attention token crowd-sale happened on 31st May to raise a minimum of $4 Million but instead raised $36 Million in a mere 24 seconds.

Cheers to a brave new world!

Come Together – Break the Silos

•November 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment



“Come together” – The John Lennon song by Aerosmith lingers in the background. A whiff of reality sinks in as I write this. Investments in technology within the marketing ecosystem increases day by day. All major holding groups are either setting up technology stacks or acquiring it to fast pace their efforts. Why this is happening? Today’s marketing function involves a complex blend of mathematician, designer, service specialist, creative and technologist – specialisms that have traditionally resided elsewhere. The traditional agency model is not working anymore and if one looks deeply enough it is very clear. It not because marketers and brands are not savvy enough, but for the fact that agencies have not changed a bit in their approach. We are still bull-headed in our thought and there is too much of bulk and inertia to be moved.

The only way to transformation will be to “come together” and really do that sitting side by side. As we try to buy precious face-time with our consumers both creative and media alone in isolation cannot fathom the fragmentation around us….fragmentation due to disruptive technology and the culture driven therein. Try explaining this to a 15 year old who insists on a personal device today rather than the gregarious TV watching schedule. While story telling still remains the most important aspect, but how and when you tell it have put spanner in the works. The transformed agency of the future will be the ones which will have creative, media and technology stacks side by side. There will be a great deal of automation that we will see as we move along, and we see that already happening in the media and technology stacks. I believe smaller agencies and outfits are better placed to transform themselves as it is easy to plug and play media and technology stacks these days. It is the left part of the brain that cannot be replicated fast enough and the creative folks have a larger role to play here. However they will have to come out of their silos and have to unlearn the traditional way of delivering a story. It does not mean large agencies will not be agile enough to make this transformation. The most logical way is to start with a large client and create a template where all the three stacks come together. I say a large client because it allows investment through economy of scale and it gives a larger playing field to deliver expectations. Who will be the first one to create the “come together” model will be interesting to see…. I would love to hear your thoughts here.

Death of Ownership

•October 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Image result for end of ownership

The Gen Z is pushing the world into a “Collaborative economy” which will completely change how we live and work. The collaborative economy is a system that activates the untapped value of all of assets through collaborative models and marketplaces that enable greater access. It’s an emerging trend, especially in the transportation and hospitality sector, with companies like Uber and Airbnb becoming popular, but it’s moving beyond that space. I believe this started way back when services like Netflix came and we suddenly stopped buying entertainment altogether. Stronger customer expectations, forged in the age of Twitter, Facebook and Uber, have changed the game beyond all recognition. Accustomed to fast, digitized services, consumers today demand 24/7 support and expect their voices to be heard. To them, “usage” of a convenient, reliable, customer-focused service is more important than “ownership” of a product.

Why is this happening? The following 3 trends must be understood to explain this phenomenon.

1) The rise of Gen Z and their fear of commitment
Being born in an uncertain world the Gen Z wants choices at ever turn and do not want to be tied down. Why bother owning a car when you can use an app to get a ride wherever you want to go? A debt-free mindset and pro pay-as-you-go models augment this culture even more. While digital immigrants like me like the security of a house and car the Gen Z loves the flexibility and ample choices they have at their disposal these days. As a resulAs explained in a rt, companies must make customer-centricity their new mantra. Understanding the customers’ needs completely transforms the way they design and deliver services.The smart companies are the ones that are out there talking to their customers, seeking feedback and delivering 24/7 support. The new generation of customers, operating in a world of social media and social networking, “are not merely a ‘consumer’ of services; they are an active voice in shaping at every step in the value chain.”

2) Technology and the Internet of Things
Secondly, technology continues to change the world around us, bringing with it opportunities as well as challenges. A few decades ago, it was the birth of the internet and the smart phone. Today, it’s the arrival of billions of sophisticated sensors embedded in products known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Network technologies create the efficiency and trust to unlock the wealth of these assets and share them in ways never possible before. The result is a return to old market behaviours – swapping, trading, bartering, renting and sharing, with the “village square” now wired into the global marketplace. Many models in the collaborative economy are peer-to-peer, matching needs and wants directly. This is a remarkable new stage in industrial development. IOT will enable service providers to monitor a product in real-time, enabling them to optimize equipment for their customers, lower usage costs and fix problems before they occur.

3) Sustainability and Green Economy
The third trend relates to Corporate Social Responsibility. Consumers expect businesses to have a higher purpose than profits alone, and they are especially concerned about the environment. This generation is supportive of the goals of the circular economy, which call for a major shift from the linear “take, make and waste” model to one where goods are designed to be taken back and recycled, refurbished or reused. By selling the ‘use’ of an asset rather than the asset itself, manufacturers will remain responsible for the product and want to ensure that it does not wind up in a landfill following its first life cycle.
As more and more companies embrace the potential of IoT, customer-centricity and circular thinking, I am hopeful that we will see the rise of a new era of sustainable economic growth around us. In this new world, manufacturers in order to survive have now to provide services rather than products, a concept referred to as “servitization”. They can no longer compete on price alone and must find ways to provide added value for their customers.

2 Skills that could get you better jobs in the future

•September 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Could a robot do your job? Millions of people who didn’t see automation coming will soon find out the painful way. The answer is a resounding yes.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs study predicts that 5 million jobs will be lost before 2020 as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology and other socio-economic factors replace the need for human workers.

The good news is that those same technological advances will also create 2.1 million new jobs. But the manual and clerical workers who find themselves out of work are unlikely to have the required skills to compete for the new roles. Most new jobs will be in more specialized areas such as computing, mathematics, architecture and engineering.

Governments and employers in every sector are being urged to retrain and re-skill workers to avoid a crisis.

“Without urgent and targeted action today, to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with future-proof skills, governments will have to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

New skills for new economies

So what skills should workers be acquiring to make sure they have value as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace? Some may be surprised to learn that skills we develop in pre-school will be valued highly.

David Deming, associate professor of education and economics at Harvard University, argues that soft skills like sharing and negotiating will be crucial. He says the modern workplace, where people move between different roles and projects, closely resembles pre-school classrooms, where we learn social skills such as empathy and cooperation.

Deming has mapped the changing needs of employers and identified key skills that will be required to thrive in the job market of the near future. Along with those soft skills, mathematical ability will be enormously beneficial.


Single skillset jobs in decline

Deming shows that in recent years, many jobs requiring only mathematical skills have been automated. Bank tellers and statistical clerks have suffered. Roles which require predominantly social skills (childcare workers, for example) tend to be poorly paid as the supply of potential workers is very large.

The study shows that workers who successfully combine mathematical and interpersonal skills in the knowledge-based economies of the future should find many rewarding and lucrative opportunities.

Refocusing skills education at grassroots

The challenge now, says Deming, is for educators to complement their teaching of technical skills like mathematics and computer science, with a focus on making sure the workers of the future have the soft skills to compete in the new jobs market.

Reliance Jio – The real picture is in the details

•September 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Posting this on behest of a friend…

Spoiler Alert!

Reliance Jio is a truly IP based 4G network that uses a packet switched network for making phone calls and receiving calls compared to dedicated circuit switched networks used by legacy carriers(idea, Airtel etc.). They prefer to call it by the adorable name of ‘VoLTE’ (a.k.a. Voice over LTE). Many of the existing Jio users might be familiar with this terminology.

Is then unlimited free calls really free?

As I already said, it’s not. VoLTE uses a Internet Protocol based Packet Switched Network to make outgoing calls and Incoming calls. And for doing the same, VoLTE consumes your data from your plan. Now, well assuming a single channel of audio has got is gonna take up 500KB per minute; to have a full duplex call, you’re consuming about,

500KB + 500KB = 1MB per minute from your data plan.

>>More shocking reveal towards the end.

And all other major cellular carries around the world who does have a VoLTE enabled voice calling feature including AT&T and Verizon are not charging any penny from the users as minutes. Instead, they’re in-turn getting the money by terms of net data consumed.

Is it really Rs.50/GB?

Their announced data tariff doesn’t say so. The minimum amount that one needs to spend per month towards having a Jio connection is Rs.149. Now lets see what you get with it:

Yep. Rs.149 gives you .3GB and 100SMS. Now what is the cost per GB of that basic plan? Lets do the math:

149/0.3 = Rs.450/GB!

Now what does the top tier Rs.4999 data plan gives you? Neglect the free WiFi part. Who want’s what? Math again:

4999/75 = Rs.66.653/GB!

Now the question is who’s ready to Rs.4999 every month on cellular data? Not me. For month’s I’m used to BSNL’s COMBO125 plan which gives me,

177 Minutes to any network in any proximity without consuming my data.200MB of 3G DATA that won’t vanish just like that.100 free SMS to any network in any proximity

Which is very comparable to what Jio is offering as basic except for vanishing data speeds and vanishing data every time I make a call.

So how much does it really cost you to make a call in Jio?

Considering the base plan which costs you Rs.149 which would be very comparable to the amount many of you would be spending monthly on your data and minutes; per GB of data is costing you 450rupees.

Cost per MB = 0.45 paisa Assuming a net of 1MB of data consumption per minute, Cost per minute = 1 * 0.45 paisa = 0.45paisa/minute.

>>Here comes the shittiest part, you’ll need to be spending the exact same amount on receiving calls as well.

Rs.0.45paisa/minute for receiving calls?

Are you good with 300MB/300minutes of incoming/outgoing calls for 149rupees? Or are you really ready to pay Rs.499/month at Rs.124.75/GB? It’s upto you.

That said half of this is mere speculation, we need to see the actual service rolling out by January 2017. It’s upto Jio to decide weather to meter or un-meter the VoLTE data consumed.

Choose wisely. Don’t be fooled.

The blockchain disruption

•March 29, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Trends & Technologies That Help Retail In Their Digital Transformation

•March 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Trends, new disruptive technologies, robotization, digitization, datafication, and new consumer expectations all have massive impact on the way retailers do business, marketing and media. The speed of these changes will surprise and shock them.

And if you think “OMG, another new technology?” Yes, in the era of digital Darwinism only the species most adaptable to change will survive. To be more specific: the only constant is change!
Trends & Technologies That Help Retail In Their Digital Transformation

Here are a few trends and technologies that could ignite retail revenues:

1. Robots & drones enable Amazon to deliver digital shoppers their products faster than a pizza. How will you as a retailer react upon that trend?

2. Dedicated product search engines is why digital natives prefer Amazon above Google. Shoppers don’t want Google’s clutter when they are in the buying mode. Retailers might want to reinvent their digital shop-in-shop strategy?

3. Social commerce has failed at all major social networks for over a decade. See, Like but no Buy?! How on earth can retailers monetize their massive social fan bases this way? Now social platforms are confusing digital shoppers even more with their buy buttons: 20% of the inventory will be for sale, but the other 80% won’t.

Retailers can coin social commerce by keeping their eyes open for the next generation social shopping platforms. The ones that are one big buy button.
4. Selfie trend is being coined by some smart lingerie companies, who distract data from female selfies, so similar bras can be ordered directly online. Again a Shazam-like virtual recognition software. The software is already being used by a range of top retailers including US department store group Macy’s, designer fashion site Net-a-Porter, and European online clothing retailer Zalando. We have already seen Flipkart trying to do this within their mobile app recently.

Alibaba even accelerated the selfie into a payment system to boost their already massive eCommerce figures.

When most retailers still assumed that the selfie was just another stupid, irrelevant internet meme, Alibaba proved to the world that facial recognition is more unique and trustworthy than our fingerprint.

5. Smart algorithms are already helping several retailers to pick the right prospects (intelligent prospecting) and decide on the best price (individual dynamic pricing).

6. Showrooming retailers like Nordstrom have integrated their most popular items on Pinterest into their shopping windows to lure digital native into their stores in the main shopping streets.

7. Beacons will close the loop in omnichannel strategies, but retailers need to keep pushing to get ‘Google analytics-like software’ in place. Measuring offline store traffic, ARPU and customer ROI, is a pillar in the foundation to build upon.

8. Virtual Reality was assumed to be a gimmick for gamers. VR however is a technology that can help retailers to extend their offline showrooms. Without paying for the super expensive square meters.

9. IoT will not only connect 50 billion apparatus, it will also give CMOs in retail access to 50 billion new consumer touchpoints. And thus fuel data-driven integrated digital retail marketing.
Which other trends and technologies will change the retail landscape forever? I’d love to hear your ideas.

The future in balance – 2025

•October 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The future will be derived by strong desires for personal freedom and people’s need to gain control over lifestyles that are moving faster and faster.
My goal in compiling “the Future in balance – year 2025” is to help stimulate thinking and hopefully make it controversial enough to cause these topics to be debated.  Please take some time to challenge the assumptions, and let me know what you think.

Time for brands to think about Virtual Personal Assistants

•September 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

As shown by Baidu’s virtual assistant announcement, tech giants are racing to humanize technology—but what are the implications for you?

Virtual Assistants can be said to operate at the intersection of knowledge databases and services and products that further enable personalization. With so much opportunity underlying this area from a service and product standpoint, it’s no wonder players like Apple, Facebook and Samsung are all working to crack this space. And the latest foray comes from China’s search giant Baidu as they announced the release of Duer, a voice-activated concierge service that will be installed on millions of smartphones across China.

The search app will handle requests like ordering food or getting advice on medical matters. The company is also boasting superior image recognition capabilities that will also be embedded into Baidu’s self-driving cars, which they’re making alongside BMW.

Some makers like Apple or Microsoft are taking a device approach (think Siri). Others, like Google and Microsoft, take a cloud approach, while others are taking a more programmatic approach (think Facebook’s M.)

The central mission for these developers is intuitive design that encourages conversation rather than swiping, clicking and typing. Facebook takes the approach of using a mixture of algorithms and human operators for their virtual assistant product, M. This is intended to give Facebook a leg up on how Apple, Microsoft and Google interpret demands, which is focused on automated responses to factual queries and simple commands. On the other hand, what Siri or Google Now do is not simple at all, because these platforms are meshing together a slew of apps to generate the best answer.

When we looked at Baidu’s Duer, it’s not clear which approach they are taking, but it is most likely to be the approach of other tech giants (which means it will either be based on cloud technology or device).

Assessing the Opportunity

The first step to adapting in a fast-moving world is always a sound business strategy. Virtual Assistants are just a small part of the shifting technological landscape but there are at least three key opportunities for brands in this realm:

Maximizing containment on a website
Increase sales through up-selling and cross-selling
Improve customer experience

If you’re still not taking these platforms into account, keep in mind that Virtual Assistants will be accessible by anyone with a mobile phone. Brands will need to adapt to the knowledge that voice-oriented platforms like Siri and S Voice because of the way they enhance way-finding and lessen friction in the consumer journey overall.

Today consumers are increasingly expecting their identity and history to be integrated into a variety of brand touch points. — that brands are expected to be knowledgeable on some level.

Data provides brands and technology companies with unprecedented chances to accomplish a more personalized experience for the consumer. Thus brands must continually respond to the technology industry’s advancements. A coherent business strategy makes it easier to ascertain the best way to approach disruptive and subtle technological advancements.

FMCG ecommerce – Not going anywhere!

•May 1, 2015 • 2 Comments


Look at India around you and you will see a land of extremes. The FMCG category in India is a replica of this, with products catering to each section of the Indian population layered very well with the SEC/LSM categorization we marketers do to target the right population who would buy these products. Years ago we saw the birth of mordern trade which gave a glimpse to all large and small FMCG players a potential that could be harnessed for the better. They were supposed to allow more control to the FMCG players and better inventory management along with organised profts and so on so forth. Well, years ahead from that point we can say that this potential is still not realised with only 9% of FMCG sales coming through this organised retail format. This is still an urban phenomenon and lacks the personalization of service that Indians crave about always.

The ecommerce story is not unfolding the very same way. A lot of effort, money and patience has been put here to unravel the potential and will be done so over the next few years. I believe that though this story will not fade away but there will be no scale to run this business in a profitable way. Look at the way the traditional business runs….it is very personal with the grocer knowing the buyer for months if not years. He lends a credit limit to him every month to retain him. Does home delivery over a call for even a small item like a thandai or a can of coke. They can even return the the products easily if they do not like it. The Indian buyer loves this personalization that ecommerce can never deliver. Also the economics does not work out. All buyers today look for deals and discounts which is kind of stereotype that ecommerce has been labelled these days. It has been driven by the flipkarts, bigbasket and snapdeals of the world which run these deals as customer acquisition tactics and will not fly in the long run. At this category is not where you can run this as price points are in tens of rupees and weights in gms. An I am not even getting into the delivery aspect of the business which is the achilles heel of Indian ecommerce ecosystem.

My take here is FMCG ecommerce whatever that is going to happen is going to take a pie out of modern retail and not change anything else within the ecosystem. It remains to be seen what will the flipkarts, bigbaskets and snapdeals of the world do about it as we move ahead. Will they keep pumping investor money down the drain to keep the consumers coming back with deals and discounts? Also interesing will be the strategies of large players like HUL, P&G, J&J, Godrej, etc. Will they see through this smokescreen and make the right investments going forward.

Let’s wait and watch….