July 30, 2016

Kev Sticks Little Weenie In Big Mouth

Kev, Kev, Kev... when are you going to learn to keep your stupid fucking mouth shut?

As regular readers know, I have a love-hate relationship with Saatchi & Saatchi Chief Global Douchinator Kevin Roberts. I love to ridicule his pompous horseshit (like here, here, and here) but I hate to listen to his dopey ramblings.

Well, ol' Kev went and did it the other day. He stuck his little ol' weenie in his big ol' mouth.

According to Business Insider Kev thinks the debate over gender diversity in the ad industry is 'over'. I'm sure all the people whose gender is diverser than his will be interested to learn this.

But before we get to ripping Kevin's skin from his stinking carcass, let's have a look at the context from which such ignorance and arrogance develops.

There is a certain type of middle aged male for whom business success and shit tons of money are not enough. Their egos need more. They need to believe that their power and money did not come from crass commercial pursuits, but from some inner vital force.

I call it Guru-itis. It is the belief that your fame and money make you a visionary. And that you have an obligation to educate, inspire and coach us poor fools into achieving your higher plane of enlightenment. 

You can find these creeps all over Silicon Valley, and in board rooms throughout the world.

Here are the symptoms of Guru-itis: 
  • You believe that the future is happening now but we mortals just can't see it. You, of course, can.
  • You believe the everyday concerns of average people are silly relics that need to be transcended.
  • You write a book about how people would be so much more productive and happy if they would just follow your shining example.
In the rarefied air of these Spiritually Enlightened Worldwide Blowhards, the concerns of us peasants  -- you know, like salary, advancement, and control over our lives -- are silly last-century trifles that we need to get over. 

According to these masters of the universe, everyone needs to join hands and have a harmonious view of life in which all are celebrated and appreciated, despite how assiduously we're being ignored, abused, and patronized by loudmouth aristocrats.

When you understand this, you understand Kev's fondness for New Age holistic horseshit. Usually it's just vapid marketing nonsense that doesn't really hurt anyone except the cretins dumb enough to listen to him. But this time he's in big trouble.

First Kevin blames the victims. According to him, when he tries to promote women into positions of creative leadership, two out of three times he hears...
'I don't want to manage a piece of business and people, I want to keep doing the work'," 
It's funny that he should hear that. I worked in the agency business for 200 years and I never heard that once. Not one fucking time. Never. 

Next Kev thinks the reason there are so few women in leadership roles  is because they're millennials and, you know, millennials are, like, a new species.
"If you think about those Darwinian urges of wealth, power, and fame — they are not terribly effective in today's world for a millennial because they want connectivity and collaboration."
Hey, Kev, connect and collaborate this.

On general principles I'm happy to blame millennials for just about anything, but I think Kev has turned out to be the only living human who believes the moronic crap we're fed at those idiotic "millennial summits." 

After blaming millennial indifference for our industry's blatant sexism, Kev actually trots out the "look how happy the slaves on the plantation are" argument.
"...we are trying to impose our antiquated shit on them, and they are going: 'Actually guys, you're missing the point, you don't understand: I'm way happier than you.' ...'We are not judging ourselves by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur-like men judge yourself by'."
Yeah, you plantation owners have no idea what fun we're having picking your cotton. We're having a blast out here in the fields while you dinosaurs are wasting your lives back there at the manor house sipping mint juleps.

It is astonishing that he even suggests this crap.

Then we get to the fun part.

Where he really makes his big mistake is taking on Cindy Gallop, a powerful advocate for women in advertising. I never met Cindy, but from what I've read I'd say that in about 30 seconds she could wrestle Kevin to the ground and force feed him his underwear.

Kev, Kev, Kev... a little advice from an ol' pal.

I have a feeling Cindy is about twice the man you are and I'd be careful to stay out of her way. She'll chew you up, and spit you out just to stimulate her gums.

Well, it's been fun having someone like Ol' Kev to kick around these past few years. But I'm afraid the fun is over.

Kev, it was nice knowing you.

UPDATE: A couple of hours after I posted this, Kev was shown the door.

July 25, 2016

Display Ad Horseshit

Here at The Ad Contrarian Worldwide Headquarters, we're in a never-ending battle with the forces of evil who are trying to get you to piss away your money on worthless, wasteful, creepy and abusive "interactive" advertising.

Last week's post called "Tons Of Data And Not An Ounce Of Sense" established for all eternity that no one on planet Earth interacts with "interactive" advertising. 

As expected, the dimwits who know nothing about advertising have sent me lots of nonsense about how display ads shouldn't be measured by clicks, but by how effective they are at brand building and engagement and all kinds of other imaginary hogwash. Apparently, these goobers believe this crap.

It's time to put this bullshit to rest.

The following data comes to us courtesy of Lumen, a research company in the UK that since January has been conducting what it calls "the world's first eye-tracking panel." 

What they do is kinda technical but simple to understand. They have a panel of over 300 people. They've done 35 controlled studies and studied 28,000 minutes of "natural browsing" against more than 3,000 different online ads. They follow peoples' eyes to see what they look at. Let's have a look at what they've uncovered. (I want to be clear, the research is theirs, but the conclusions are mine.)
The first column is impressions. Impressions are the crap you're paying for. In any truthful world an impression would be defined as one person seeing one ad. But in the corrupt world of online advertising an impression has nothing to do with either people or ads. According to the IAB, an impression is 
"...a measurement of responses from a Web server to a page request from the user browser"
Got that? No humans, no ads. Servers and browsers.

The second column shows us that only 54% of "impressions" are "viewable." This means that even if people wanted to see your crappy ad, half the time they can't.

It may not load in time. It may be "below the fold" where it can't be seen. It may be the result of fraudsters who send a pixel that registers as a "response from a web server to a page request from the user browser," or it may be some other incomprehensible technological or criminal reason above my pay grade.

But the point is, about half of all online ads you pay for are not even visible.

If you're asking yourself, why in the the fucking world would I pay for an ad that's not visible? I have bad news for you. You'll never be a CMO.

Now we get to the third column. This column shows us that of "viewable" ads only 65% are actually viewed. Doing the math, this means that only 35% of the total number of "impressions" we bought are actually seen by anyone.

But wait there's more wonderful news. Of the 35% of ads that are actually seen, only 25% of them are noticed for at least a second. In other words, 75% of the time ads that are technically "viewed" are really only glanced over for less than a second.

This brings us down to 9% of our so-called impressions being seen for a second or more.

Can it get worse? Sure it can, this is the web. It always gets worse.

Now we have to factor in the bots. Remember, Lumen only tests humans. But as we surmised last time, at least a third of the time an "impression" is not a human at all, but a malignant software thread that is pretending to be a human.

So, when we're done with all the shady online horseshit, what we're left with is this -- at the end of the line, of the 100 "impressions" you paid for, maybe there are 6 real people glancing at your ad for a second or more.

If that's your idea of money well-spent on brand building or engagement you, my friend, are what is known in my hometown of Brooklyn as a fucking moron.

July 21, 2016

Marketing Morons Never Sleep

In the time-honored tradition of client disloyalty, duplicity, and ingratitude, Chick-Fil-A has fired its agency of 22 years, The Richards Group.

The Richards Group was responsible for a long-running and highly effective campaign that featured rebellious cows exhorting us to "Eat Mor Chikin."

Here's what Chick-Fil-A's new-ish (a year and a half) brand babbling CMO had to say,
"The cows are an integral part of the brand. They're our mascot, if you will. But they aren't the brand. The brand is bigger than that..."
To give you an idea of what this clueless goober has in mind for Chick-Fil-A, here's the witless trash from a brilliant "Cows-plus" marketing strategy (no, I'm not kidding) that he had some other agency do for Chick-Fil-A recently.

As usual, CMO's, in their arrogant egocentrism, have to screw with everything they didn't create.

Chick-Fil-A started as a tiny regional brand and is now the 8th largest restaurant chain in the U.S.

Despite having half the number of stores and being closed on Sundays, Chick-Fil-A outsells KFC by 50%. Its sales-per-store outperform industry leader McDonald's. It is by far the largest chicken chain in the country. Its sales have grown six-fold since 2000.

And it has done it with an advertising budget that is a fraction of KFC and McDonald's.

The account has gone to McCann in NYC. And what is McCann going to do with the "Eat Mor Chikin" campaign? According the president of McCann they have a "mission to bring that line to life."

No, Richards brought that line to life. Your mission is to keep from fucking it to death.

July 18, 2016

Tons Of Data And Not An Ounce Of Sense

One of the great advantages of online advertising is that it generates lots of very valuable data. This data helps us make excellent media and marketing decisions. Or so I'm told.

But I'm afraid I may be suffering from that ailment called "cognitive dissonance" because from what I can see we have lots of data about online advertising and we're making astoundingly dumb decisions.

Let me give you an example.

Google tells us that here in the U.S. the average click rate for an online banner ad is about .07%. That means for every 10,000 ads we run we get 7 clicks. This is beyond alarming.

But we also know that about half of those clicks are accidental. So that gets us down to 3.5 real clicks per 10,000 ads served.

Then we have to account for fraud. Now nobody knows how much click fraud there is, but there is responsible research that estimates it as high as 90%. I'm frankly skeptical that it's that high, but I think most knowledgeable people agree that it's probably no less than 35%. So let's go with that more conservative number.

Now we're down to an effective click rate of about .02%.

Since all the amazing data we have at our fingertips has allowed us to target only highly worthwhile consumers, we can assume that those 2 people we have induced to click with our "precisely targeted" compelling message are really valuable to us.

But wait a second...

We also know that 85% of clicks are generated by 8% of the population. The probability of inducing a click is not so much related to the preciseness of our targeting or the relevance of our message, it is related to the likelihood of having reached a click maniac.

So it's unlikely that the two measly legitimate clicks we're getting are even prospects.

Am I crazy? Because it seems to me that every bit of precious data we have about display advertising tells us that it's a complete and utter joke. And yet every year we increase our spending by double digits.

As far as I can tell, we have tons of data and not an ounce of fucking sense.

July 11, 2016

Revenge Of The Philistines

"The snottiness of believing that creativity just resides in the creative department of traditional agencies, that media people can't be creative, or data people can't be or people who do healthcare or promotion or CRM can't be creative – it's a nonsense and it's insulting to the people who are in those areas." -- Martin Sorrell in WARC
There is no one who has ever made more money from the advertising business than Martin Sorrell.

There is no one who has ever had more influence on the advertising business than Martin Sorrell.

And there is no one who has ever done more damage to the advertising business than Martin Sorrell.

Martin Sorrell is to advertising what McDonald's is to food. He demonstrates no appreciation for the art, quality or grace of it. His only interest is in making it lay more golden egg mcmuffins.

You can see his subtle duplicity in the quote above. He pretends that because we call a certain department the "creative department" that we are disdainful or unappreciative of contributions from others. This is utter bulllshit.

In the advertising business the word creative has two meanings.

First, is its usual meaning -- imaginative.

Second, is the meaning that is specific to advertising, as in "the creative department." This means the department that makes the ads.

Sorrell pretends he doesn't know this. He pretends he doesn't know that in ad language "creative department" means the department that makes the ads. It does not mean the only place where creativity resides.

He pretends that in the ad business the people in the creative department think they have a monopoly on creative thinking. Pure trash.

Every endeavor can be improved by creative thinking. Creativity is a way of thinking, not a department.

As a teenager I looked for ways to be more creative in the way I placed plastic bags over mens' suits in my dad's dry cleaning store. And, believe me, the dry cleaning store did not have a creative department. 

But this does not mean that there is not a special meaning for the word "creativity "that is specific to the communication arts. This is the kind of creativity that makes music and art and literature and, yes, sometimes even advertising extraordinary and delightful.

Sure, the guy who printed the tickets to Hamlet, or sold the popcorn, or counted the proceeds may have found creative ways to do so. But he didn't write the fucking play.

To believe that doing a practical job in a creative manner, and creating something brilliantly unique from scratch are the same thing because they happen to share the word "creative" is the willful dissembling of someone with an axe to grind.

Creativity is a word that Sorrell and his ilk are trying very hard to dilute into meaninglessness. It doesn't fit into a world where the new gods of data and metrics are ascendant.

Before the accountants and their new gods can take their throne, the old god of "creativity" must first be pulverized and sprinkled lightly over everyone. 

This is just the crude posturing of an overfed philistine who has no respect for the talented people that are fleeing the industry he is single-handedly ruining.