October 30, 2014

Digital Clown Act In Big Trouble

Just in time for Halloween, there's a nightmare developing for the online ad industry. Unless I'm mistaken, the clown act that is digital advertising is headed for a train wreck.

Up until now they have thrived on the stupidity and gullibility of marketers, and the venality of agencies. Marketers couldn't guzzle the swill fast enough and agencies couldn't cash the checks fast enough.

But I have a feeling the big con may be coming to an end.

First, some background.

According to published reports, online advertising fraud and corruption are rampant. It is generally thought that there is fraud associated with between 30 and 50% of online ads.

But corruption and theft haven't dampened the hunger for this stuff one bit among the dimwits in the marketing world. They've been throwing more stupid money at online advertising every year. It's been growing at double digits.

Now, you might ask yourself why sensible people would continue to do this when they know that half their money is being stolen? The answer is, sensible people wouldn't do it. It takes a CMO to be this clueless and irresponsible.

But if I'm not mistaken, something big is about to happen.

Kraft, one of the world's largest advertisers, announced yesterday that they are rejecting 75 to 85% of the online impressions they are being offered. Kraft's director of data, content and media said...
"Think about what this means for us as an industry. When we're rejecting 75% to 85% of the impressions available, that's a problem."
Ya think?
"...75% to 85% is either deemed to be fraudulent, unsafe or non-viewable or unknown"
According to Ad Age...
"Kraft only dug into this analysis last month..."
Here's what I want to know: How the fuck can a company that spends $35.9 million a year on online advertising have waited until last month to do an analysis? Everyone who doesn't have his head up his ass knows that online advertising is a corrupt freak show of cosmic proportions.

Now that the dam has broken with a huge advertiser like Kraft, every CEO and CFO that isn't brain dead will start to ask questions about online spending -- "Are we buying the phantom impressions that Kraft is rejecting?"

CMOs and their agencies are going to be working nights and weekends hysterically throwing together misleading Powerpoint decks to save their asses.

And when they're not doing that, they'll be busy throwing each other under the bus.

This could turn into the most entertaining shit show in years.

By The Way...
...you know those people who say "I hate to say I told you so?" I'm not one of them.

October 29, 2014

Hypocrisy By Proxy

There is a horrible medical syndrome called Munchausen By Proxy. In it, a mentally ill parent invents or induces medical symptoms in a child to gain attention for herself (in 85% of cases it's a mother.)

Earlier this week, in a post called Munchausen by Proxy by Media Seth Godin compared Munchausen By Proxy to what our media does to viewers. According to Seth...
"...the media does this to us all the time... It started a century ago with the Spanish American War. Disasters sell newspapers. And a moment-by-moment crisis gooses cable ratings, and horrible surprises are reliable clickbait. The media rarely seeks out people or incidents that encourage us to be calm, rational or optimistic... 
Even when they're not actually causing unfortunate events, they're working to get us to believe that things are on the brink of disaster."
Seth's point is undeniably true. By turning events into "crises" the media draws attention to itself, and earns a nice little profit from the increased viewership/listenership/readership.

I would like to suggest that this is also a perfect description of what Seth and his pals in the marketing punditocracy have done for the past 10 years.

Since about 2004, the marketing establishment has been engaged in creating phony crises based on flimsy evidence, questionable assertions, and exaggerated claims:
  • the death of traditional advertising 
  • the death of television
  • the death of the "interruption model" 
  • the end of mass marketing
  • the enthusiasm of consumers for "interacting" with advertising
  • the miracle of social media
The "thought leaders" of the marketing industry are no less guilty of playing the hysteria card to buy themselves status (and consulting gigs) than the media are.

The more they can convince us that everything is changing -- and we need them to interpret the changes -- the longer they stay employed. And so they have created an avalanche of exaggerated claims and dire warnings that gain them attention and a nice little profit from the increased viewership/listenership/readership.

Creating alarm is just plain good strategy -- whether it's by the media or those who choose to criticize it.

Hysteria Central: Roll Call Of The Dead
Broadcasting Is Dead: Here
Strategy, Ideas, Marketing, and Management Are Dead: Here 
Television Is Dead: Here
Advertising Is Dead: Here
Ad Campaigns Are Dead: Here
Copywriters Are Dead: Here
Marketing Is Dead: Here

October 27, 2014

Revenge Of The Ignorant

Throughout history, the unfailing touchstone of ignorance is the urge to silence those whose opinions we disagree with.

Believe it or not, this impulse even exists in the silly world of advertising.

Last year I was asked to appear at a conference sponsored by a major advertising organization. I won't embarrass them by mentioning their name.

I was happy to accept their invitation as it gave me a chance to speak before some of the owners and leaders of advertising agencies -- for the most part a terrific group of people.

I say "for the most part" because among this group was an agency "leader" who couldn't lead a cat to a litter box. This is a person who has accomplished exactly nothing in his advertising career and is known for having achieved his position through a program of guile, glad-handing, and back-stabbing.

This guy wrote to the organization objecting to the appearance of "the Ad Contrarian" at the conference. 

In the advertising business, there is always a contingent of flat-tires who are powerfully committed to orthodoxy and consider anyone who challenges it a traitor to the business.

The most repugnant of these are the ones who set themselves up as thought police. Not only do they believe that people who dare to stray from their dogma are wrong, they believe we're dangerous and need to be silenced to protect the industry.

One way you can tell if you're doing something worthwhile is to take a look at the bozos who want to shut you up.

Which reminds me...
I'll be speaking next Tuesday, Nov. 4 in London at the Curzon Cinema Mayfair. For information, contact the Outdoor Media Center.