Edition 41- Steve Jobs didn't invent the iPhone

Edition 42 will be meta. Suggestions on how to best handle that occasion are welcome.

Admittedly the title is very clickbaity. It's top of mind for me because I've been reading a book on the history of the iPhone. Innovativation is rarely a "one person job" and it holds true for the iPhone too. For more history on... The history of computing Walter Isaacson Innovators and Idea Factory (Bell Labs) were fantastic reads.

Forgive any typos. I've been writing on my phone during breaks and my youngest is asleep so I am trying to get as much done as possible.

I went down a few rabbit holes this last week.

One was Quora:

I remember being into Quora. Like really into it. I think it was 2009/2012 ish. I made an effort to answer any question where I could add any perspective & even tried to be a 'thought leader' at the ripe age of late '20s. The one success I did have with Quora was that my answer for a program at UW prompted a lot of prospective students to email me and ask me for information that I was happy to provide to help them make the right choice.

Remember this was also around the time Andrew Chen wrote the growth hacker essay. At the time I was working at Organimi, a small startup out of Waterloo. We made a software to make Org Charts. It's still around and doing great (I won’t disclose financials) but they haven't raised money since the small seed & its an 8 person team now distributed across Halifax / Toronto & Windsor.

Back to Quora. There was a question about 'best free of charge org chart tool' and as any marketer, I saw the opportunity to get some exposure/traffic. So I dutifully answered & it got upvoted by Marc Brodnik and some other high profile folks.

I wrote about it here circa 2014 (early Medium days).

Since those heydays of Quora and Jason Lemkin building an entire Saastr brand on Quora, it has slowly become seemingly irrelevant.

Yes, Quora still exists, and it’s now worth $2 billion

It is especially popular in India, where over 20 percent of its visitors come from, according to Alexa data.

I am South Asian. I don't think Quora being popular in South Asia is a bad thing. But I do think it will make for a bad advertising platform because most companies in North America don't know how to sell / service out of North America.

Folks in South Asia don't have the buying power (FX rates) to buy most North American business software. Case in point, Organimi for some reason REALLY got popular in Malaysia and Indonesia. I mean thousands of signups a week from those countries but not a single one converted to a paying customer. When we dug further we found out they had little or no ways of making the payment because credit cards aren't a thing. I remember the same when I was in Pakistan - no access to commerce on the internet because of the lack of credit cards adoption.

The other rabbit hole was Programmatic Advertising. How big the ecosystem is. What Connected TV Ads are (think Roku) & the layers upon layers that exist between you visiting a website & an ad being shown.

Criteo vs Adroll vs Steelhouse vs Google - In-depth Review | Iron Pulley

One of the leverages that networks like Facebook have is that they built an ecosystem of ad inventory outside of traditional ad networks and publishers - on properties like Facebook (proper), Instagram & Audience Network - which means its less prone to fraud as traditional ad exchanges because there are less layers in between

With third party cookies going away - alot of the existing ad exchanges & marketing, in general, is likely going to be less effective or more complicated. The great promise of the internet was precision targeting. Some will argue it doesn't matter. But others will say - knowing exactly when, where & who sees your ads is what makes it so effective.

In a nutshell: Third Party Cookies are 🍪 placed in your browser by a website other than the one you are actually visiting.

Beyond ad targeting, the demise of the third-party cookie will hit key digital media functions - Digiday

I understand is what tells an ad-exchange like Google (Google also has first-party cookies & Chrome) - that you've been to websites about cooking & baby clothes & new 5-7 seater car review sites. Using these data-points, the third-party cookie "data vendor' can sell this demographic/ in the market profile of you (anonymized) to ad exchanges which let marketers & advertisers then target you with ads for ... cars, baby clothes & perhaps meal kit delivery services. It's also what allows GA & other analytics to count sessions / cross-device sessions & measure user journeys.

Quick interruption. We are done with the first beta version of CMS Buying Guide for Marketing Teams. If you are so inclined, you can view an early draft here:

View the CMS Buyers Guide Beta

One of the disturbing trends I've seen lately in engagement baiting is purposefully posting divisive opinions to garner both haters & supporters. For example - making proclamations like - SEO is dead or Attribution is shit. The brand is more important. Copywriting is the ultimate skill - etc.

Jess made a fantastic point that it’s very similar to the Trump playbook - say something that'll appeal to a certain audience even if it distorts the facts or isn't the whole story

As someone who writes this on Substack & the buzz & momentum around Subtack - this was a very interesting POV. This also reminds me of Medium vs Self-Hosted blogs a few years back (although Medium has more discovery/network built in)

Why most analytics efforts fail - Reforge - Hey Dev - can you install Segment and track these 20 events for us?

Product Marketing: A Charter - Ex Slack / Current CEO Abstract Kelly Watkins on Product Marketing - which is the least understood and most underappreciated function in marketing.

Welcome to the Era of Customer-Led Growth - Georgianna Laudi (ex Unbounce / Current Elevate & Coach - likely everyone reading this knows her). Love the customer focus. Don’t run a GTM playbook because its faddish, align with how customers want to buy.

Contriversial thread. If you're running Organic social under a brand handle - likely yes. Collary is Fast & how great they’ve done & $SHOP.

This was in drafts for weeks. I am glad I finally dusted it off.

Till next time. Stay safe & stay warm.


P.S in a few weeks I’ll be on the marketing podcast by Sonja Jacobs - First Person yelling about marketing / MQLs / Media vs Content and all that stuff. Watch this space when it gets released. It’s my second pod appearance to date.