October 12, 2015

Data Is A Frame, Not A Picture

You don't have to spend much time around marketers to realize that every few years the marketing industry discovers a new miracle and becomes obsessed with it -- until the next miracle comes along.

Our latest marvel-du-jour is data.

You can tell it's an official miracle by the number of dreary conferences held to talk it to death, and the number of nitwits that can't finish a sentence without invoking its name.

Every dim bulb consultant and loudmouth agency hustler has a tendentious Powerpoint proving that data is the answer to every marketer's problem.

But I have a thought I'd like you to consider.

Do you think Coke has some mystery data that Pepsi doesn't have?

Do you think McDonald's has secret data that Burger King can't find?

Do you think Facebook will peddle its data to Target but not to Walmart?

Here's my point -- just about the same data is available to just about everyone who wants it.

Yahoo and Twitter and dozens of other online media companies have reams of data about you and know everything there is to know about you. And they're still stuck in the mud.

It's not the data that makes the difference, it's what you do with it.

That's why all the data hustlers are full of shit. They want you to believe that their proprietary data inevitably leads to a magical answer. It doesn't.

The answer is, and always has been, a smart person with an idea.

Give a mediocrity all the data in the world and he'll come up with garbage. Give a brilliant person one critical fact and he'll build you an industry.

Literally thousands of scientists had the same data as Einstein. But Einstein had something they didn't -- the creative brilliance to formulate a vision of what the data meant.

Data is a frame, not a picture.

October 08, 2015

The Whining Of The Online Ad Industry

Now that the adolescent online ad industry is facing its first serious crisis, we are experiencing exactly the kind of behavior we should expect from juveniles -- whining.

The growing problem of ad blocking has generated a chorus of infantile bellyaching from online publishers and their apologists.

First, they are exaggerating the problem to gain our sympathy. The IAB claims that 34% of adults are using ad blockers. I am highly suspicious of this number. In fact, I'd be surprised if 34% of people even know that ad blockers exist. My guess is that the actual number of ad blocking software users is closer to half this number.

Next they say that there is an unwritten agreement between publishers and users. Publishers provide free content and, in return, we are obligated to receive the ads they send us. This is a lousy argument. The internet is not free. I write a hefty little check to my internet provider every month. The fact that online publishers have a dumbass business model and do not get any part of this revenue is not my fault or my problem.

They say publishers are going to go out of business and the websites we love are going to disappear. I doubt it. If 95% of the websites in the world disappeared tomorrow, there would still be a thousand times as many as we'd ever need.

The online ad industry does not understand its problem. The problem is ad tech. And the longer they cling to the obnoxious model of ad tech that currently exists, the worse their problems are going to get.

People are only mildly averse to advertising. They tolerate it in many forms in many media. What people hate is the type of ultra-annoying, creepy advertising that has been enabled by online ad tech.

If they would dump their addiction to ad tech a large number of their problems - fraud, blocking, price deflation - would take a nice step toward evaporating.

Sadly, they are willing to address everything but the problem.

October 06, 2015

Take This Test To See If You Are Delusional

As a world famous writer once said, marketers are from Mars.

But today we are not talking about marketing nutjobs in general, today we're talking about you.

The question today is a personal one: How far have you deviated from reality?

Take this test to find out.

First, I want you to think about your refrigerator.

Think about all the stuff that's in there: The cheese, the eggs, the juice, the jelly, the butter, the beer, the mayonnaise, the bacon, the mustard, the frozen chicken strips...

Now think about your pantry. The cereals, the beans, the napkins, the flour, the detergent, the sugar, the rice, the bleach...

Next your medicine cabinet. The toothpaste, the pain relievers, the shampoo, the tweezers, the soap, the band-aids, the deodorant...

Now your dresser. Your socks, your underwear, your shirts, your pajamas, your swim suit, your t-shirts, your sweaters...

Now your car. The battery, the tires, the wiper blades, motor oil, gasoline, the air filter, the muffler...

Now answer these questions:
  • Do you "share branded content" about any of this stuff? 
  • Do you feel "personally engaged" with these brands? 
  • Do you "join conversations" on line about this crap? 
  • Do you ever "co-create" with any of these brands? 
  • Do you feel like you are part of these brands' "communities?"
Now answer me this: If you don't, why in the fucking world do you believe anyone else does?

Okay, you may now return to your regularly scheduled delusions.