August 29, 2012

The 6 Stages Of Digital Delusion

One of our axioms here at The Ad Contrarian worldwide headquarters is that in today's world of marketing, delusional thinking is not just acceptable, it's mandatory.

Digital media have been the primary cause and the primary beneficiary of delusional thinking. The fascinating thing is that the cycle of delusion has been going on for over 10 years and we still don't recognize it.

Here are the 6 stages of digital delusion:
1. The Miracle Is Acknowledged: It may be podcasting or banner advertising, YouTube, Twitter or Facebook. Whatever it is, it is going to "change everything." It will be the focus of hysterical attention in the trade press and will often find its way into the business section of the newspaper.

2. The Big Success: A company somewhere has a big success. This is where the danger starts. The success is plastered all over every trade magazine and analyzed at every conference. It is "proof" that the miracle is real.
3. Experts Are Hatched: Clever entrepreneurs gather up a Powerpointful of cliches and march them around from conference to conference. They write articles, and even books, on how not to be left behind.
4. The Bandwagon Rolls: Everyone who knows nothing is suddenly asking the marketing department, "what is our (your miracle here) strategy?" Fearing that she will be thought insufficiently trendy, every CMO is suddenly looking for an agency that is expert at (your miracle here).

5. Reality Rears Its Ugly Head: The numbers dribble in. Oops...people are ignoring our miracle 955 million at a time. The miracle seems to be working for everyone but us!

6. The Back-Pedaling Begins: "Well, it's just part of an integrated program..." say the former zealots. The experts start blaming the victims, "Hey, we never promised...We told you you had to..."
This cycle has repeated itself so many times that it is comical. Here are just some of the digital miracles that have turned out to be "just part of an integrated program..."

    ...websites... blogs... banners... podcasts... MySpace... Second Life... widgets... YouTube... Facebook... Facebook apps... Twitter... iAds...Linked In... FourSquare... Pinterest... QR codes... and now... content (whatever the hell that means.)

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Which reminds me...
...what the hell ever happened to "the conversation?"


Charles said...

Haven't you heard? Conversation is dead...

Greg Satell said...


That's all very true, but according to the Gartner Hype Cycle there is a also a seventh stage where after the "trough of disillusionment" the technology turns into something real (and I've found this to be true:

Of course, that happens years after the idiots have already moved on to something else...

- Greg

Paolo said...

He he he...
It would be nice to guess whic will the next miracle be... something coming out of Windows 8?

Tom said...

Big Data.
It's the next 'big thing' Bob.

Would love your take on it, if/when you have time...