September 01, 2007

The Legend of Interactivity

Someday I'm going to write an advertising book called "Legends and Rituals". It will be about how advertising and marketing people are blind to the evidence of their own eyes but keep saying and doing the same fictitious things over and over.

One chapter will be about interactivity. Pick up any article, book or blog about marketing and you'll read that there's a new species of human being around these days who are compelled to interact with us. They don't want to be marketed to, they want a conversation with us.

I don't think so.

As far as I can tell, people are just as lazy as ever. If you do a survey they'll tell you that they want to interact, but if you watch their behavior you'll soon see the difference between what they say and what they do.

This was reinforced to me when I started writing this blog. I quickly noticed that every 10 zillion visits generated one comment -- maybe. At first I assumed I was so brilliant that no one could contradict the logic of my thinking. I was soon disabused of this notion. After visiting other blogs and talking with other bloggers, I realized that there is an amazingly small amount of interactivity among bloggers and bloggees. Sure, bloggees will visit the blog, but they won't interact. Check the comments totals on most blogs. They are tiny. Seth Godin has the most frequently visited marketing blog. I assume he gets hundreds of hits a day. He's got every gimmick known to man to get people to interact with his blog. And yet, a tiny number of trackbacks, links, comments, etc. Check it out.

What's going on here? Simple. Marketers have confused impatience with interactivity. Simply because people are constantly clicking their remotes and mice, doesn't mean they're interacting with the medium. It means they're bored and anxious.

Changing the channel or surfing the web is the opposite of interaction. It's a search for unidirectional entertainment.


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