June 28, 2012

Sidewalk Psychology And The Z-Man

There was an interesting piece in Ad Age the other day about people exhausting their ability to pay attention to all the nonsense on Facebook.

Zuckerberg predicted a few years ago that each year the amount of stuff each of us would post on line would double. Apparently this is called Zuckerberg's Law. The writer believes that in this prediction lies the downfall of the Facebook empire. He believes that we can't handle a doubling of useless information and at some point the signal-to-noise ratio will become unsustainable.

Whether this is true or not, I have no idea. I would like to think that the author is correct. But I have to say I have been powerfully impressed by the average person's capacity to consume moronic crap.

The author says...
"How is it that Mark Zuckerberg, obviously a smart fellow, cannot... be aware of the limits of consumer cognition and human attention spans? How could a guy so brilliant not understand that his increasingly overshare-y Facebook is diminishing our collective capacity to focus on the stuff we really might care about in social media, let alone advertising messages?"
The part about advertising messages is the part I'm interested in. Here's the thing. I don't think Zuckerberg gives a shit about advertising messages.

I think he has people around him who do; I know he has shareholders who do; and I'm positive he has clients who do. But I think he could care less.

I don't think he gives a moment's thought to the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, except insofar as it might interfere with the user experience.

The idea that somehow Zuckerberg sees Facebook as an advertising medium, and that he factors the needs of advertisers into his decisions seems delusional to me. I have never met the man and I am certainly no expert on his personality, but everything I've seen tells me that on his list of top 10 things he wants Facebook to be good for, advertising is number 11.

June 27, 2012

Behavior Blindness

For years I've been writing about the weakness of the web as an advertising medium.

Throughout this period there have been intelligent, successful people who have disagreed with me vehemently. In fact, almost the entire advertising and marketing industry seems to disagree.*

It has been very confusing for me trying to understand why otherwise intelligent, perceptive people don't see what I see.
  • They know they never click on banner ads.
  • They know that 95% of their purchases -- the peanut butter and gasoline and milk and socks and cereal and tires -- have never been influenced by a web ad.
  • They know they ignore the invisible ads on Facebook.
  • They know they pay no attention to "branded content."
So if they know all this, why do they still believe?

Then it struck me. They don't know. They are unaware of their own behavior.

The "aha" moment came when I was re-reading a quote from The Economist that I used here a few weeks ago in a piece about the supposed death of television. Here's what the Economist had to say...
"....one of the oddest and most consistent findings of television research: that people seem unaware of their own behaviour. In surveys they almost always underestimate how much television they watch, and greatly overstate the extent to which they watch video in any other form."
I think this is what is going on in the advertising and marketing industry regarding online ads.

The data are irrefutable. We do not click on display ads. We do not notice banners. The only ad medium on the web we use consistently is Google.

But we are so swamped with hype about online advertising that we seem to have become blind to our own behavior.

We spend a crazy amount of time on the web reading all about our pet interests -- computers and travel and cars and restaurants. But we are seemingly unaware of the fact that web advertising has virtually no influence on the vast majority of things we buy every day.

As in so many aspects of life, we think we know what we're doing, but we don't.

*Although since I wrote this post, Sir Martin Sorrell has come out and said he thinks Facebook is a lousy advertising medium. Maybe I'm not the only idiot.

June 25, 2012

So You Wanna Run An Ad Agency

If you're the typical wildly demented ad professional, you probably think that some day you'd like to run your own agency. Since I've been doing that for several centuries I thought I'd give you a few tips.

Managing an ad agency is like delivering a baby. It seems pleasant enough in theory. But until you've actually done it you have no idea how messy it is.

Forget everything you've ever seen on Mad Men. Running an ad agency will not make you beautiful, handsome, or sexy. I suggest you Google me.

There are only two types of people who work at ad agencies -- crazy people and people training to be crazy.

From where you sit now, your colleagues seem good-natured and sensible. When you're their employer, you will soon find that all the good-natured and sensible people are over at Subway making pastrami melts.

One day someone you have worked with happily for 10 years will come into your office and close the door. She will tell you that she has left her husband and two children. She has fallen in love with your biggest client and is now living in the back of his 4-Runner. As soon as he tells his wife about this (which will happen "any day now") they will be moving to Oregon to make leather candles.

One afternoon you will be on a conference call between several of your staff and a film production company. The production company's director will be going on and on about how much he loves the storyboard they're bidding on. While he's doing this, your agency producer will be entertaining the troops by using his right hand to make the universal gesture for "whack-off." Two weeks later a letter will arrive by messenger informing you that a legal action has been instituted against you for enabling a hostile work environment.

One morning at 3:30 am your home phone will ring. It will be the the nice young Stanford graduate you hired in your billing department. He has been arrested for shooting off a gun at a strip club. It's all a terrible mistake, but can you come downtown and bail him out?

You will think of your agency as "your team." And, like all teams, they will have a remarkable capacity for petty grievances and will go out of their way to undermine each other.

Running an ad agency has nothing to do with making ads, working with clients, or managing accounts .

Your only real job is to keep crazy people from killing each other.

June 20, 2012

Advertising's 5 Biggest Lies

Among our fellow citizens, it is commonly believed that we ad hacks get paid to lie. While I am not prepared to stipulate, I do concede that sometimes we don't quite tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

So when you set out to write a piece entitled Advertising's 5 Biggest Lies, you are begging for trouble. It's like writing Las Vegas's 5 Worst Buffet Dinners or Pepsi's 5 Dumbest Marketing Ideas. No matter what you pick, someone's got something to top you.

Nonetheless, trouble is my business. So here we go -- advertising's 5 biggest lies:

1. We're all creative.
We're not all tall. We're not all handsome. We don't all have nice complexions or charming personalities. But, according to the lore of advertising agencies, we're all creative.

A good idea can come from anywhere, is the mantra. Yet, remarkably, good ideas seem to come from the same people over and over again. And, similarly, so do bad ones.

If you believe that we're all creative, I'm afraid you also have to believe that it's just a coincidence that Shakespeare wrote dozens of brilliant plays and Whoopi Goldberg didn't.

Not only are we not all creative, even most of us who are paid to be creative aren't.

2. The big idea is dead
Among the many really dumb platitudes that the age of digital marketing has spawned, one of the dumbest is the claim that a lot of little ideas are better than a big one.

This is what's known in the trade as making a virtue of necessity. You see, agencies have been so lousy at coming up with big, successful online advertising ideas that the only defense is to claim that big ideas are no longer necessary -- or even desirable.

It tries to sneak by us the preposterous notion that a weakness is actually a strength -- that web advertising (specifically content marketing and social media) are more effective because of their low impact.

Of course, the question is -- where are they hiding all these brands that have been built with little ideas? I'm having a hard time finding them.

As I've said previously, we are a culture that is hooked on stimulation. We like our stimulation loud and we like it in hi def.

In this environment, little ideas have little chance.

3. The consumer is now in charge
The people who keep hitting us over the head with this cliche tend to be callow digi-crusaders who know very little about the history of marketing, and have a skewed perspective on the current state of things.

There are two parts to this lie. The first is the assumption that sometime in the dim past -- say, way back before Twitter -- the consumer wasn't in charge. Somewhere these people got the idea that there was a time when consumers were helpless zombies who did whatever we told them. I must have been sick that week.

The quickest way to disabuse yourself of this notion is to look at the failure rate of new products. As long as I've been around advertising (which is hundreds of years) the failure rate of new products has been in the 90+% range. Not exactly a monument to us crafty marketers leading submissive consumers around by the nose.

The second dumb part of this lie is the startling blindness to the dangers of digital marketing . Businesses are now collecting shockingly large quantities of information about us. Unprecedented amounts of personal data are in their hands.

To believe the consumer is in charge you also have to believe that knowledge is not power.

Fanboys often tell us that Facebook is worth $100 billion because of the enormous amount of powerful data at their fingertips. Then, in the next breath, they tell us the consumer is in charge. Sorry, fellas, you can't have it both ways.

4. Online advertising is interactive
The thinking went like this: People like to interact with the web, therefore they'll want to interact with advertising on the web.

This has turned out to be a massively toxic delusion. No one, and I mean no one, wants to interact with web ads. Banner ads have a click-through rate under one in a thousand. And if the average web user is like me, that one click is the exasperating result of faulty eye-cursor coordination.

But this hasn't stopped advertisers from pouring money into display advertising. This year in the US, advertisers are poised to spend about 9 billion on banner ads.

This lie has legs.

5. It's all about the work
It's not just the digital crowd that's delusional. Traditional agencies are just as susceptible to silly nonsense.

If you hang around agencies for about 15 minutes you're sure to hear that "it's all about the work." It's a pleasant little fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.

Advertising is like baseball, and "the work" is like pitching. It's the most important element, but it's far from "all." Advertising is a very complicated and unpredictable business. In order to be successful you have to be able to pitch, hit, play defense, sell hot dogs and give away bobbleheads. 

The fact that some of our most famous creative agencies also seem to have the highest turnover of clients has not penetrated the consciousness of the people who believe this simple notion.

If you could get inside the heads of our clients, I'm pretty sure you'd find that as far as they're concerned, it's not all about the work. It's mostly about the money.

June 18, 2012

Content Is The New Magic

Recently I praised Fast Company for publishing a very good piece about the dream world  marketers are living in in which they think Facebook members give a shit about their brands.

Well, it didn't take long for Fast Company to revert to form. Last week they published a self-promotion piece disguised as an article called Why You Should Buy Facebook (And Sell GM). It was written by a "content" hound and it explains to us dinosaurs, with great forbearance, why "content" shared on Facebook is the new online marketing magic.

According to his guy, like everything else in the long line of online marketing miracle cures, content -- especially that which is shared on Facebook -- will soon be replacing traditional advertising.

As usual, the argument is not a discussion of facts, it's the oft-told battle between the tired old forces of reaction and the heroic new crusaders of virtue.

Conveniently, the author neglects to inform us that the identical claims have been made for previous online wonders including podcasts, blogs, banners, widgets, user generated content, Twitter, apps, YouTube... and it has all proven to be seriously delusional.

So fire up your cliche meter, here we go.
"There's a battle brewing between the old-world thinking of Madison Avenue and Wall Street and the mindset of the Facebook generation...Facebook is about replacing traditional ads with shared content; it's about new ways of sharing with friends and strangers, not old, failing ways of shilling for products...
This guy needs a jargon make-over. If he's going to be channeling the magnificently wonderful "Facebook generation" he really ought to stop quoting 5-year old social media powerpoints.

Also, we idiots are...
"...famous for opposing any threat to (our) power and (our) ancient ways of operating"
Yeah, all this power is really going to my head. And does anyone know where I can get my abacus re-beaded?

You see, we are suffering from...
"...a complete failure to understand where Facebook's real economic value lies... (we) should be dreaming that a friend or a stranger shares an online link to a piece of content authored by their brands."
I think the operative word here is "dreaming."

He also inadvertently neglects to include the two most important facts about advertising and marketing on Facebook:
Finally, this guy loses any and all credibility by quoting extensively from the appalling, misleading, and completely unscientific piece of garbage from Nielsen called Global Online Consumers and Multi-Screen Media: Today and Tomorrow that we took apart here last week.

Apparently unconcerned that Facebook makes about 85% of its money on paid advertising -- not shared content -- the author concludes...
"It doesn't take a genius to figure out how Mark Zuckerberg and his shareholders will make money on this exploding phenomenon."
This confirms something I've suspected for a long time. I'm no genius.

June 14, 2012

Nobody Ever Clicked On The Mona Lisa

Earlier this week, in a post entitled Why Clicks Matter, I expressed the opinion that the only sensible expectation for online display advertising is that it will generate clicks.

Now that the dirty little secret that almost no one clicks on display ads is out, one of the arguments that apologists, sales hustlers, and people who don't understand advertising drag out is "oh yeah, well nobody ever clicked on a TV spot."

There are several reasons this argument is appallingly stupid and disingenuous.

First is the most obvious. TV doesn't rely on "interactivity" for its effectiveness. TV spots have a 60-year history of building brands -- thousands of them in hundreds of categories -- without the magic of interactivity.

Display ads have nothing. In the 15-year history of online display advertising is there a single instance of a major brand of anything being built by display ads? It is perfectly clear to anyone with a functioning cortex that display ads rely on interactivity for their value. TV spots don't.

Second, when traditional advertising is lousy at motivating people, agencies always haul out the  "branding" argument. This is what the display ad crowd is now trying to do. They are trying to sell us the idea that display advertising is brilliant for "branding" -- whatever the hell that means. Only a blind fool believes this nonsense. Every study ever done tells the same story --  display ads are essentially invisible.

Finally, as Harvey Briggs points out here, whether we admit it or not, TV spots are part of the content. Everyone is willing to acknowledge this on Super Bowl Sunday, but the other 364 days we pretend it's not true. Display ads are clearly not part of the content. They are barely even part of the page.

The argument that "nobody ever clicked on a TV spot" is the witless, desperate argument of apologists for an over-hyped, marginally effective mode of advertising. It has the intellectual integrity of asserting that Babe Ruth was a lousy athlete because he never scored a touchdown.

Amazingly, there are naifs throughout the marketing industry dense enough to accept it.

June 13, 2012

The Google Bamboozle

An interesting article this weekend in the San Francisco Chronicle had me thinking that Google may be heading toward a greed tipping point. They are getting too big and too piggish.

Google makes its money, first and foremost, by misdirection. You type in a word and they serve you listings from people who have bought the right to that word.

Yes, they also serve you "natural" listings, but they don't make any money on that. They only make money on misdirection.

Because it's for sale, their paid search has little credibility. Now they are busy undermining the credibility of their natural search.

Google is getting deeper and deeper into content. This creates enormous opportunities for mischief. Google's natural search is supposed to serve you the most relevant result for your inquiry. But since they've bought Zagat, can you really expect that they will not lean toward Zagat reviews rather than Yelp reviews? And will Hulu get fair treatment compared to the new programming being created for YouTube, which Google owns?

According to the Chronicle, Google will also soon be introducing a new product called Google Shopping which will replace Google Product Search. The difference? Google Product Search allowed you to compare prices of products from many retailers and websites. Google Shopping will charge retailers to be included, so you'll only get results from companies who grease Google.

According to the Chronicle, some clown named Sameer Samat, who is a VP of something at Google, contends that this is not about them making more money. Heck no! You see, they are doing this for us -- to provide us with more accurate information. Shucks, ain't that sweet of them?

But then again...

In 2004 Google said,
"Because we do not charge merchants...our users can browse product categories or conduct product searches with confidence that the results we provide are relevant and unbiased..."
So I guess now that they are charging merchants we have no choice but to assume the results will be irrelevant and biased.

June 12, 2012

Boobs In Adland

A few weeks ago, in the wake of a controversial Time magazine cover featuring a breastfeeding woman, Adweek asked me to comment on the use and effectiveness of women's breasts in advertising. They didn't use my comments, so I'll reproduce them here.  

On May 15th, The New York Times reported that researchers had found the “oldest evidence of any kind of graphic imagery” -- 37,000-year-old images in a rock shelter in France. What was the subject matter? The female anatomy.

Apparently, advertisers weren’t the first to discover sex.

I think I can say with a relatively high degree of confidence that 37,000 years later, a large majority of men still like to look at women’s breasts. How else do you explain Hugh Hefner’s mansions or Pamela Anderson’s acting career?

Publishers learned a long time ago that women with their shirts off sell their wares. This is why magazines feature cleavage on the cover (and, by the way, why Adweek writes stories about it.)

I’m no psychologist, but it seems a rather tenuous proposition to hold that we like to look at ‘em on the editorial pages but not on the ad pages. So I’m going to take it as a given that ads featuring the female breast attract the male eye.

This fact has lead to a whole genre of unfortunate advertising. We’ve all seen these ads -- top-heavy women standing next to copy machines and earth-moving equipment. Near-naked women eating drippy hamburgers or slurping light beer. Super Bowl spots with that naughty, middle-school sensibility. The entire economy of the state of Nevada seems to rely on this type of advertising.

So the eternal question is: does sex sell? As usual, market research will not get you an answer, just more questions.

It’s always been my opinion that the first job of an ad is to garner attention. If it doesn’t get your attention, it can’t sell you anything. But getting your attention is not the same as making the sale.

I’d like to think an ad that just goes for titillation (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and doesn’t make a point is worthless. I’d like to think that successful advertising requires more than this. I’d like to think that ads with stacked women making inane sexual innuendoes are stupid and wasteful. So, please, don’t ask me to explain the success of GoDaddy.

By the way, every 10-year-old is now 2 clicks away from the most disturbing types of pornography. This seems to bother no one. But when a magazine puts a breast on its cover everyone suddenly goes all sensitive.

June 11, 2012

Why Clicks Matter

I used to be creative director on the Blue Cross account. We did some very nice advertising for Blue Cross. We even won some Clios (no thanks to me, I had great people working for me) -- back when Clios were worth something.

The primary objective of the advertising was simple -- to get people to apply for a Blue Cross policy.

The way we did it was to put 800 numbers in our TV spots and coupons in our print ads. We were clear why we put these response mechanisms into the ads -- because they were supposed to elicit a response.

We had an exceedingly stupid client. He insisted on evaluating our performance based on how many policies he sold. On several occasions I tried to explain to him that advertising could not sell his policies.

All advertising could do was to get people to either send in the coupon or dial the 800 number. Once they did that, it was out of our hands.

I tried to make it clear to this genius that the only logical way to evaluate our advertising was on how many coupons or phone calls it generated. That was advertising's job. The advertising couldn't answer the phone, talk to the customers, or write an attractive policy. That was his job.

Of course, being an imbecile, he never understood this and if he is still alive and sober somewhere I'm sure he still doesn't.

This is why the people who are trying to convince us that clicks don't matter are so wrong.

The only realistic expectation for display advertising is to generate clicks.

The argument that display ads should be evaluated on sales is wrong. The ad usually can't make a sale, it can only link us to someplace where a sale can be made.

The argument that a display ad should be evaluated as a "branding" mechanism is also unsound. Display ads have very little value as brand builders. They are largely invisible. They are no more effective as "branding" vehicles than any other small-space ads. To my knowledge there is no major brand of anything that has ever been built on display advertising.

The argument that display ads are an effective way to create awareness is similarly erroneous. In general, online advertising has proven to be extremely poor at generating awareness. Or, as one web usability guru says, web users "... almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement."

The only realistic, worthwhile expectation for a display ad is that it will generate clicks.

Web gurus have their logic all backward. If, as they tell us, people who click are no more likely to buy than people who don't, it doesn't mean the click is worthless. It means where the click lands is.

June 07, 2012

Businesses Clueless About Social Media

Over the years, some of the dumbest articles I've ever read about advertising and marketing have been published by Fast Company (examples: here, here, and here.)  But this week I read a good one. It's called "Facebook Is About People, Not Brands--So What Is Your Company Doing?"

The article makes several important points about the cluelessness of businesses regarding social media:
  • According to a study by IBM, over 60% of businesses think consumers follow them on social media because they want to be "part of a community." In fact, this is the least important reason to follow a business. What's the most important? Like we've said here about a zillion times, getting a discount. 
  • Among the top 10 reasons consumers say they use social media, interacting with brands is -- wait for it -- number 10.
  • According to IBM “Businesses hoping to foster closer customer connections through social media conversations may be mistakenly projecting their own desires for intimacy onto customers’ motivations for interacting."
About 18 months ago, Adweek published an article of mine called The Digital Dream World. It started like this:
"Welcome to a new world... It's a world in which consumers want to have relationships with brands and conversations with marketers. It's a world that is causing a revolution in advertising and marketing. Unfortunately, it's a world that exists largely in our dreams."
The Fast Company article draws the same conclusion and uses an example that is very near and dear to my heart...
"The IBM study should dash the misguided way of thinking... like that of Pepsi Refresh, where product-focused marketing is replaced by gauzy notions of relationships, and should cause marketers to realize the large numbers of people they see on Facebook and Twitter should not be mistaken for an audience clamoring to connect with brands."
Will the last bozo still hustling "the conversation" please turn out the lights.

June 06, 2012

The Itch To Pitch

My unrelenting commitment to bringing you the finest in firmly-held, ill-informed opinions has lead me down a dangerous path. I have forced myself to watch 3 episodes of The Pitch.

The things I do for you people...

Even though I have a very high opinion of the power of TV advertising, the truth is I almost never watch TV. (And even though I have a very low opinion of the power of web advertising, I am addicted to the web.)

Other bloggers and commentators have been brutal in their reviews of The Pitch. Viewers have expressed their opinions by unanimously staying away (the May 7th episode got a Nielsen rating of 0 -- seriously.) I can see why. But I have actually found it fascinating. The enlightening aspects of the show have been these:
1. The alarmingly high regard that unremarkable agency people have for themselves and their agencies. (One agency head who claimed he did the best advertising anywhere listed GoDaddy as one of his accounts. I rest my case.)
2. The shallowness of the thinking during the creative development process.
3. The inability of clients to recognize good ideas.
In each of the three episodes I watched, the losing agency had a better idea than the winner. In each case, the client was unable to recognize a better idea, and made their judgment on quantity rather than quality. In other words, they selected the agency that had blown their idea out in more directions, rather than the agency that had the better idea.

In no case was there any indication that the agencies gave anything but the most perfunctory attempt to create a coherent strategy. (In fairness, this could simply be a function of the way the editor has chosen to cut the episodes.)

The part that I find most laughable comes at the very beginning of every episode. The head boy at each agency describes how brilliantly unique his agency is -- by utilizing the identical cliches that every other head boy uses.

It's pretty clear that any agency with a sense of pride or self-worth would not participate in this monstrosity of a show. The problem is that the whole ad industry is being represented by these mediocrities.

There are some very smart people in the ad business. It is discouraging that this program has chosen to use -- or has been forced to use -- such unexceptional talent to represent us.

It's a good thing no one's watching.

June 05, 2012

The Facebook Massacre

I am mildly surprised that Facebook has dropped so far so fast.

Although I thought the Facebook IPO valuation was a cruel and stupid joke, and I predicted that it would dive, I really didn't think it would happen this quickly or dramatically.

As I write this, the value of Facebook shares has dropped almost 30% in two weeks. At a putative value of $100 billion, that's a loss of $30 billion in value. That's about $2 billion a day. Even I can't blow money that fast.

The frightening thing to owners of Facebook shares has to be that over the next 6 months the "lock-up" period expires. This means that early owners of Facebook --who have been required by law to hold onto their shares -- will be allowed to sell them. A bunch of shareholders may decide it's better to cash out now, and shares could flood the market.

In the next 90 days, 10% of Facebook shares (over 250 million of 'em) will become "unlocked." In the next 6 months, 1.7 billion (with a b) shares will be unlocked.

With demand for Facebook shares already way below expectations, it could get ugly early.

The amazing thing about the Facebook IPO hysteria is that the whole foundation was built on -- as my dear mother used to say -- shit and glue. Facebook's revenue model is dependent on selling advertising space, and there is compelling evidence that paid advertising on Facebook has thus far been uniquely ineffective.

But we live in an age in which the marketing and advertising industries trust unreliable and foolhardy pundits and experts more than we trust facts or the evidence of our own eyes.

For example...
  • Can you recall a single marketing message that has appeared on your smart phone? 
  • Are there any "conversations about brands" going on at your Twitter feed now? Please go there and check.
  • Have you ever seen a normal person use a QR code?
  • When was the last time you watched a YouTube video about a product?
  • What was the last piece of online "content" about a brand you linked to?
And yet, the fables and nonsense being spread regarding all these magical new tools dominate the marketing conversation.

Could it be that the Facebook face plant will serve the purpose of injecting some reality into the fantasy world of advertising and marketing?

Not a freakin' chance.

June 04, 2012

TV Getting Ready To Die Again

After 10 years of injudiciously predicting the death of television, you'd think the advertising and marketing press would exhibit a little self-control on this subject. No such luck.

A new study was released recently and it was accompanied by headlines like these:
"Don't Mean To Be Alarmist, But The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse"
"UH OH: This Nielsen Data Suggests People Aren't Watching TV Anymore"
The proximate cause of these headlines was a Nielsen study called "Global Online Consumers and Multi-Screen Media: Today and Tomorrow."

The two big findings from the study that prompted the headlines were these:
  • The number of people who watched television at least once a month declined from 90 percent to 83 percent last year.
  • More people watched video on a computer (84%) in the last measured month than watched it on a TV (83%)
Taken at face value these are pretty convincing numbers. There is only one problem. They are totally, utterly, completely worthless. Did I state that strongly enough?

Here's what's wrong with them:
  • The numbers are self-reported. Nielsen says: "responses are only indicative of respondents’ beliefs about their own media usage, rather than actual metered data." In other words, the numbers are a report of what people said, not what they did. Anyone who knows the first thing about research knows that self-reported media behavior is meaningless. From The Economist......"one of the oddest and most consistent findings of television research: that people seem unaware of their own behaviour. In surveys they almost always underestimate how much television they watch, and greatly overstate the extent to which they watch video in any other form. In particular, they underestimate their consumption of live television... "
  • The sample is beyond a joke. Nielsen only surveyed internet users. This is like comparing orange juice usage to apple juice usage by only surveying orange juice users. Even Nielsen cops to the ludicrousness of this, "...Results may therefore, among other possibilities, over-report online usage via computers, under-report traditional television usage..." Not only did they only survey online users, the study itself was conducted online -- double skewing the results. There is not a credible testing facility in the universe that would do anything but laugh this "research" out of the lab.
As you know, here at The Ad Contrarian, we don't make predictions (other than awesome ones about Facebook and Pepsi.) We just report the facts and try to interpret what they mean.

The last reliable data we've seen say that TV viewing is at its highest point ever, and that online viewing of video represents only 2% of all video viewing.

The minute we see data that suggests that TV is collapsing or that people aren't watching it anymore, we'll let you know. Right now, this Nielsen nonsense leaves us magnificently unconvinced.

In Other News...
I have been struggling for weeks to get a new commenting system for this blog. The problem is that the 3rd party system I have used for years is going out of business and it seems that if I change to another system I will lose the 5 years of comments accumulated on the blog. The only solution seems to be to change to a new version of Blogger (which is the platform this blog is built on) and presumably I can import my old comments and start using the built-in Blogger commenting system. However, a) I don't trust that the old comments will import correctly, as everything else I have been told has turned out to be wrong and b) I have tried (and so has my IT department) to change to the new blogger format and it is fraught with crazy problems. I apologize to all my readers and commenters. I like to read your comments -- even the dumb ones that contradict me -- and I'm sorry it has become so difficult. There is an awkward work-around. You can go to the title of a post, click on the title, and a commenting box along with others' comments will appear at the bottom of the post. Right now, it's the best I can do.