Mitch Joel talks ‘access, not ownership’

IABC members with Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel, at right, with IABC members Donna Papacosta and Cyrus Mavalwala.

The Internet used to be like an elephant; it never forgot. Now, its future is about “fast, temporary pieces of content” (think Snapchat) that are here now and gone soon after.

Mitch Joel, one of North America’s leading digital experts, told IABC/Toronto members at a recent event that consumers don’t necessarily want things to be permanent. “Increasingly, people want access, not ownership,” he said.

For evidence, look no further than the shift from owning or renting DVDs (and the demise of Blockbuster) to subscribing to a whole library of TV shows and movies on Netflix. Instead of CDs and then iTunes collections, we access millions of songs on Spotify.

We can rent a spare room from Airbnb, a car from Zipcar or Car2Go, a bike from Bixi. We can even rent a temporary parking space on someone’s driveway from JustPark.

“While some will simply glaze over this shift in consumerism, it is a massive deal in terms of understanding the new consumer,” Mitch said. “And it happened like flipping a light switch.”

Mitch called the new playing field the “temporary Internet of things” and the “age of efficiency.” (Read more on this in his blog post on The Impermanent Internet.)

“The question becomes, if consumers have done this, what do brands and businesses do?” he asked. He had some thoughts:

  • Content has to be image-based, mobile, social.
  • You need to figure out how to be Bethany Mota, and “speak exactly and only to your audience and give them relevance.” In Bethany’s case, the YouTube star speaks to 8.2 million teenage girls. (Oh, and if you didn’t know who she is, you are not the cool aunt or uncle any more! Hmm, and recognizing her from a stint on Dancing With The Stars probably doesn’t count.)
  • Think about how you connect with people, beyond asking permission.
  • Personalization is important. “You happily give your information to Amazon because you get value back,” Mitch said. “On Father’s Day, it knows 20 things I want.”
  • Rather than solve marketing with advertising, think about ways to use the “bigger toolbox” the Internet gives us.
  • Know that the battle for attention is not just with competitors, but with everyone in the value chain of what you offer. As an example, he mentioned “liking” Beats by Dre on Facebook after you bought their headphones at Target, and the five or six different vendors that then ask you to like them, too.

Mitch’s talk left many of us with our heads spinning! If you were there, what did you think? What did you take away from the talk? Please comment below.

This entry was posted in The Red Jacket Diaries blog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted February 7, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Excellent recap, Sue. I always listen to Mitch because he can spot trends and help us make sense of them.

  2. Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Donna, you are among the fast-disappearing breed of people who take the time to comment on blogs! Thank you.

  3. Dave Watt
    Posted February 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Sue, thanks for this recap. I bought my ticket as soon as this session was announced, but come the night of the event, I was really sick and had to miss it (and several other events over a two-week period). Very disappointing. I wanted to hear what Mitch had to say, but even of more interest to me was the chance to meet him in person. I first “virtually” met him back in the 80s (or early 90s… I don’t exactly recall) when I was doing media relations for Universal Music and Mitch was a music writer for one of the rags in Montreal. I always enjoyed our working relationship and he was always good to deal with. I was thrilled to see how his career took off (I wasn’t surprised… I knew back then that he was something special). Hopefully another in-person opportunity will come along.

  4. Posted February 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    Dave, so sorry you’ve been sick and I hope you are on the mend. And too bad you missed the talk! No doubt there will be other chances.

  5. Kendell Duthie
    Posted February 10, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the recap! Similar to Dave, I bought my ticket early but ended up having to miss on the night. I appreciate being able to learn a bit about what he said even though I couldn’t make the event. Thanks!

  6. Posted February 10, 2015 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for commenting, Kendell, and sorry you missed it too. Glad you liked the recap.

  7. Shirley Smith
    Posted February 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    This presentation by Mitch Joel really made me “sit up and take notice”. We see all these changes taking place around us but it takes someone like Mitch to gather it all together and put it into a frame, making the picture much clearer.

  8. Posted February 11, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    So true! Change seems to creep up and then all of a sudden you’re looking around and saying, hey, what happened? Thanks for stopping by.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Subscribe

    Subscribe via RSS