November 30, 2015

Advertising And Probability

When it comes to human behavior, it is very unwise to think in terms of always and never.

If you tell me people never eat glass, I guarantee I can find some people who do. If you say people always sleep lying down, I'm sure I can locate some who don't.

And yet when it comes to advertising we have become inured to hearing people who are absolutely sure of their positions.

Sadly, we have far too many people committed to ideological points of view about modes of advertising and marketing.  This is particularly true in digital advertising where people who express skepticism about whatever the digital miracle of the year happens to be are regularly marginalized.

In fact, advertising is a highly probabilistic undertaking. There are no certainties -- just likelihoods and probabilities.

As you know, I think the philosophical underpinnings of social media marketing are utter bullshit. But does this mean that social media never works? Of course not. I, myself, am a social media marketing success story.

Is advertising always more effective if it is emotional rather than logical? No. But often it is.

When I do talks and I present the facts about the weakness of online display advertising, I am sometimes challenged by someone who has had success with it. This is not surprising. A probability curve will predict that there will be successes.

But this does not change the facts.

So when you read or hear the pronouncements of experts -- even the handful who actually know what the hell they're talking about -- remember, there ain't no always or never. Just usually and sometimes.

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