The quick and dirty on Toronto’s fringe festival of tech ideas, from neurochemistry to programmatic media buying

PodCamp is a digital marketing “un-conference” that takes place annually at Ryerson University and is somewhat the fringe festival of tech ideas in Toronto. This year, Day 2 fell on World Information Architecture Day.


The quick and dirty on what I learned at PodCamp 2016:


The neurochemistry of motivation

  • Emotion is motivation. If you can evoke an emotion in someone, you can motivate them.
  • People are more loss-averse than we are incentive-driven. We are more emotionally impacted by what we lose than by what we gain.
  • Motivation works better through stress reduction than through incentive.
  • Build on internal motivators, because when external motivators disappear, so does the behaviour.
  • Oxytocin is the us vs. them chemical—it’s both liquid love and liquid prejudice.
  • Levels of motivation: Immediate physiological needs → Self-protection (feeling safe!) → Affiliation (friends!) → Status/esteem (career!) → Mate acquisition (lots of dating!) → Mate retention (relationship!) → Parenting
  • Your brain chemistry completely changes after having a child.
  • People with brains controlled more by serotonin are more likely to be impulsive and anxious, and to have a negative reaction quickly. People with brains controlled more by dopamine tend to be calmer and more tolerant.
  • Dopamine is released in anticipation of reward. Dopamine is most triggered by novelty. It is less triggered both by rewards that are too familiar and by rewards that are too different (when the brain does not recognize what’s in front of it as a reward).



  • The goal of crowdfunding is to validate the idea, build a customer base and sharpen the target demographic—even more so than it is to raise funds.
  • The downside to crowdfunding is public humiliation.
  • Your crowdfunding campaign needs to have a big first week in order to meet its target. Ideally you should raise 30% of your target within the first 3 days. The popularity algorithm will measure traffic, comments and funding in the first week and determine where the campaign gets placed on the site and whether it gets included in the newsletter--which will be responsible for driving further traffic to the page.
  • Keys to a successful crowdfunding campaign:

1.     Know your customer.

2.     Take advantage of your network.

3.     If you have an email list, use it.

4.     Social media.

  • Campaign timeline:

1.     3 months to prep and create buzz

2.     30-45 days for campaign (send reminders or make new offers every 3-4 days)

3.     Post-campaign (keep in touch with supporters through email list, get supporter demograhics for Facebook ads and targeted blogger advertising)

  • Major crowdfunding platforms:
    • Kickstarter (the iOS of crowdfunding)
    • Indiegogo (the Android of crowdfunding, offers campaign strategists for promising campaigns, allows flexible funding where you can keep the funds even if you don’t hit your target for a higher percentage allotted back to Indiegogo)
    • GoFundMe
  • It's easier to get a former customer to buy again than to get a new customer to buy at all.
  • The power of social media is reserved for a bigger budget. Social media typically does not convert well.
  • Building an effective mailing list is important to reaching your customer base--build from your network, from events, from talks, and from former customers. It’s quality, not quantity.



Tim Ferriss, “Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise 100K in 10 Days”

Crowdfunding Advisory Services



  • Designing without research is like getting into a taxi and just saying 'drive'.
  • To design personas:
    • What is the most critical factor facing the business?
    • What is the most uncertain factor surrounding your users?
    • = crucial uncertainties
  • Contextual personas provide the user’s internal motivators, as well as the user’s external drivers when interacting with the product. Don’t look at a user’s motivation in a vacuum—look at their personal relationship with the product.
  • Contextual personas = behavioural insights + product context
  • Life is too short to build something nobody wants to use.

Omni-channel marketing

  • Media world is moving toward programmatic media buying.
  • The question is not how do we invent technology that ad blocker can’t detect, but how do we make ads people won’t want to block?
  • Facebook, Google, etc. are now much larger and more influential than agencies.