What Keeps You Up At Night?

There's one question that I get every time I do an educational presentation for clients, partners and peers: "What keeps you up at night?" It's the question I love the most, and it's one I thought I'd take a moment to answer here today in the Spin.

What keeps me up at night is difficult to narrow down. As most of those who know me well are aware, I actually don't get much sleep because I'm always getting up at night. I find that nighttime is the period where all my thoughts tend to shift and settle, and most of the little epiphanies of my world come through. Nighttime is when I get the opportunity to make sense of the world because the world slows down enough around me to allow me to reason with myself.

The two primary concepts that keep me up at night are most easily described as Choice and Convergence. The media landscape changes daily---which is just something we get used to seeing--but all the changes simply boil down to providing the consumer with the opportunity for choices and the opportunity for their various paths to converge.



All the gadgets and new media formats which emerge, from mobile phones to video iPods or from VOD to IPTV, emerge because someone thought a consumer would want the ability to access content in that manner. Somewhere there's a consumer who'll choose to access content in that manner, and a company recognized this and decided to provide them with the chance to do so. The underlying reason for consumers' accessing content in a particular way is usually because they're more strapped for time and they want to maximize the opportunistic minutes of the day, which really provides a rationale for convergence--not convergence of technology, but convergence of the various parts of their day. It represents convergence of their work life, their home life, their social life, and whatever other lives they secretly have. We seek out the opportunity for maximizing our time, which comes more and more at a premium. We do this by choosing how to interact with the world, and the world of media, which surrounds us.

At the root of my epiphanies rests psychology. Marketers are really psychologists for the masses. We attempt to glean insights from the audience, identify trends and desires that fuel them, and then provide a solution for these situations. Our jobs center on understanding the choices that our customers have and predicting which ones they 'll make. With more and more choices being created every day, our jobs become infinitely more difficult--and there come more areas and opportunities for expertise. Eleven years ago, the main area of expertise was the Internet, but now we see that area become segmented down to Search, Mobile, Display, and many others. There are areas of expertise emerging every day, but we still need people who are capable of understanding the whole. We need people who are capable of understanding the bigger picture and providing rationale for the actions of consumer across multiple media formats and through the interwoven paths of their complex everyday lives.

This is what keeps me up at night.

It's psychology, mathematics, engineering and popular science mixed in with tabloid gossip and just a touch of real world entertainment. What keeps me up at night is trying to process all the ways in which the consumer interacts with the world and trying to stay one step ahead of them and show our clients where to go next. It ain't easy, but it's certainly a lot of fun.

We don't always get it right, and I've certainly been wrong on many occasions, but it's sort of the quest in itself that I enjoy and it's why we choose to do what we do. Not because we want to prove that we're right, but because we love the challenge of tackling the problem.

What keeps you up at night?

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