Size Does Matter

Clay Jones (Undercurrent), Alex Chung (Undercurrent)
Big Idea
Location: New York East
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 2 ratings)

Things want to be small.

Our talk provides a new perspective for the digital world that celebrates the self organization of people into groups that are smaller, harder to find, and harder to communicate with, but ultimately more valuable to marketers.

Our talk begins with our experience in helping Pepsi, Ford, and GE set their digital strategies, and builds on those insular learnings with those from other fields. We’ll examine lessons from biology, politics and popular culture to show that networks inexorably trend toward smaller and more specific iterations on the norm. For nations, it’s a yearning for autonomy; for field mice it’s an adjustment in width and length based on competition; for culture, it’s smaller, yet more complex ideas that create interest (see Steven Johnson).

We hope that learnings from other fields and the metaphor of “small” will help marketers in the digital age. Our mission is to break the advertising model where companies are more concerned with collecting impressions than making them.

Our three rallying cries:

Forget scale – It seems that everything is growing online except for trust in marketers. We’ve been obsessed with collecting more fans, gaining more views and bombarding more people. We want a new strategy for the next billion people to migrate online, one that is more about quality than quantity.

Design for one – Here, we challenge people to think about concept first and audience second. Also, to break away from the comfort of large caricatures of society like “millenials” and “baby-boomers.”

Segment for value – Using the Gini Coefficient (and the Lorenz Curve) we show how a small world view can help segmentation. To date, we’ve been unnecessarily inefficient with our messages by shouting them into a crowded room. Instead, we should speak softly to only those that matter.

With the internet as a catalyst, people are less and less willing to be forced into groups that don’t help them identify, belong and produce. We hope that people leave the talk with a new perspective on boundaries, measures of success and a new understanding of what’s to come for marketing.

Clay Jones


Clay Parker Jones is a Strategist at Undercurrent, a digital strategy firm in New York City, New York. With a background in international relations, he works to inform marketing strategy with an understanding of structural and economic issues that face large groups. In his spare time, he designs and builds digital writing software and ping pong paddles.

Alex Chung


Alex joined Undercurrent, a digital strategy firm, from Australia, where he was an academic and analyst for the Centre of Industry and Innovation. His research focused on word-of-mouth communication and the application of network theory to consumer behavior. Now, he helps brands navigate the interwebs – in all its craziness.

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