January 19, 2017

Marketers And Magicians

There was a time about a century ago when magicians were very popular.

Harry Houdini was a rock star. Houdini did tricks that were, and still are, astounding. One hundred years later the world's leading magicians still can't figure out how he did many of his tricks.

At the time, and since then, there have been two schools of magic. One school - often part of the séance and spirituality crowd - claimed they had supernatural powers and were able to do their magic because of their occult abilities.

The other group said, horseshit. It's just tricks. Houdini was one of these. They have become known as the "skeptical movement " (or if you're not a Yank, the sceptical movement) and apply their principle of skepticism to many areas of life, not just magic.

You could include scientists like Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye as well as more contemporary magicians like the Amazing Randi and Penn & Teller among the skeptical movement.

Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine says, "A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient..."

In the world of advertising and marketing there are a great many assertions that are made without proper scientific foundation. Curiously, many of these are made by the very people -- the technology fraternity -- who consider themselves empiricists but are often just true believers in a philosophy that seems scientific because it is technological. But is unproven by actual observation.

A perfect example of this is the blind belief in social media marketing by technophiles because it happens to live online, despite an avalanche of dismal results (88% of senior marketing execs say they have seen no quantifiable results from social media.)

I am often accused of hating online advertising for ideological reasons. While it's true that I largely hate online advertising, it's not based on ideology. It's based on the same skepticism I try to apply to anything I read or hear that is presented with great authority but is rooted in flimsy or unconvincing "research" or vague data that is cherry-picked to prove a point.

I maintain the same level of skepticism toward the questionable brand babble of "traditional" advertising as I do to the wobbly claims of online advertising.

Whether you're listening to the prattle of magicians, the assertions of marketing experts, or the blathering of bloggers, my advice is to always allow yourself the great gift of skepticism.

January 17, 2017

Social Media Agency Of The Year Award For Not Doing Social Media

Six years ago, I wrote a good post (yeah, there've been a couple) called "Social Media's Massive Failure." I was denounced as an idiot and a Luddite dinosaur.

Of course I was and still am. Notwithstanding that, my post was correct.

Since then I've squealed and whined extensively about the infantile delusion that social media marketing is based on -- the silly idea that consumers want to have conversations with and about brands and share their brand enthusiasms with the world.

I've also written a lot about Facebook cleverly giving up on the fantasy of social media marketing and becoming a traditional media company, selling as many paid ads as they can stuff on a page.

Well, now things have come full circle.

A few weeks ago MediaPost named BBDO as its "Social Media Agency Of The Year." For what? For not doing social media.
"The solution: Utilize Facebook not as a social network, but a 'media channel.'"
Apparently BBDO woke up this year and told its clients to stop wasting their money on "conversations" and "sharing" and start running ads on Facebook.

To appreciate how fucking insane our business has become, you have to read the way MediaPost ties itself into knots trying to make something brilliant out of a conclusion so obvious that even an account planner could have come up with it.
"The strategy was built on a key insight that while Facebook's overall reach continues to expand, the relative effectiveness of “organic” reach for big brands has been diminishing proportionately."
You know what that bullshit means, right? Here's the translation: Social media doesn't work and you have to advertise.

But if you want to work in our business you can't just come out and say that. You need to hide it under steaming piles of jargon. Otherwise, you might lose your job for being "traditional."

No, you have to do what MediaPost does -- take the obvious and make it incomprehensible.

Anyone with a pulse and an IQ above 20 knows that social media marketing is largely a pile of horseshit and the only way to get any value out of Facebook is to buy ads.

But if you know how to write a bullshit "manifesto" or "white paper," and you can further torture the already horrifying language of our industry by tossing in large words with small meanings, you can become "social media agency of the year" by not doing social media.

If the ad business didn't already exist no one would believe it could.

January 11, 2017

Your Security Is Our First Priority. Never.

If you want a good laugh, go to a major website and read the boilerplate about security. Or read their public statements...
“At Yahoo, we have a deep understanding of the threats facing our users and continuously strive to stay ahead of these threats to keep our users and our platforms secure,” said a Yahoo company spokesman a few months ago.

This was before they announced that a billion accounts were hacked.

The Yahoo story may not be representative of all online companies, but it is certainly eye-opening. Here's how Yahoo "continuously strives" to keep your information secure.

According to The New York Times, in 2014 Yahoo's chief of security recommended some changes that would make their platform a lot more secure by employing "end-to-end" encryption.

This initiative was thwarted by the guy who runs their email and messaging services because "...it would have hurt Yahoo’s ability to index and search message data..." You know what that horseshit means, right? It means that Yahoo wouldn't be able to read our email.

Once again, their disgusting, obsessive hunger for surveillance and their insatiable appetite to collect information about us trumped any sense of responsibility.

The dimwit who killed this program justified it this way...
"I’m not particularly thrilled with building an apartment building which has the biggest bars on every window,”
How's that for an idiotic analogy?

I got news for you, bub. I don't live in your fucking apartment building but my personal information does and you better put up some fucking bars and they better be the biggest fucking ones you can find.

Based on Verizon's reconsideration of its acquisition of Yahoo, this imbecile may have cost Yahoo a few billion dollars. Maybe there is some justice in the world.