Remove Adjectives To Confirm B.S.

Try this: Next time you listen to a “digital” marketer, or a “social media” marketer, or hear somebody describe the amazing properties of “social” video, remove the adjectives in your mind.

If what you’re hearing sounds like B.S., you’re right.

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The First Step In Targeting: Product. Huh?

As a proper marketer, before you begin segmentation and targeting to create your strategy, look first to the first P of marketing. Your product.

Why? If your product doesn’t work, the most brilliant targeting strategy can’t work. You’ll have no monthly recurring revenue, no cross- or up-sell and there won’t be any positive word of mouth. Your allowable will therefore be low. Worse, every incremental sale will destroy brand equity.

Many examples abound, but the multi-generational loss of customers created by GM’s X-body cars comes to mind. Lots of segmentation and targeting, but the problem was that the product was utter garbage. In today’s connected world, the X-body would have killed GM.

More on segmentation to come.


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Alexa = This Year’s Pokemon Go

This year, I predict you’ll be forced to participate in many pointless meetings because some company will use voice recognition to make some money. The campaign will be breathlessly promoted as the next big thing in marketing. As a result, and because of Amazon’s ground-breaking Alexa, we’ll hear the incessant refrain that _______ (insert some channel, probably TV) “is dead.”

“We must do likewise!” will be the command from the corner offices.

The resulting Powerpoint decks will be an unholy mashup of the ice bucket challenge and Pokemon Go, with some social media marketing sprinkled on top, served with a steaming side order of growth hackerdom.

If things go really badly, machine learning will be a part of the campaign. Then you are truly screwed. You’ll have to go to an offsite meeting and/or a conference to “learn” from the inevitable machine learning/AI charlatans so you can build the right buzzwords (and the budget for machine learning B.S.) into your deck.

I hope I’m wrong. I think we’re turning the corner and that 2017 will be the year when marketers see the light of strategic thinking as espoused by Mark Ritson.

Ah, who am I kidding. Fire up Powerpoint again. We’re screwed.

“Alexa: Find me some clip art.”

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You’re Buying Digital Media All Wrong

The solution to digital advertising fraud, like many solutions, is disarmingly simple. The solution is based on one principle and consists of one technique.

The principle: If you don’t know what you’re buying, don’t buy it. If the media:

  • Can’t be described in simple English
  • Can’t be experienced by you before you buy

Don’t buy it. There’s lots of media choices. The only people who ever got rich by developing exotic solutions to common problems are the ones selling the solutions. See financial derivatives as an example of what’s going wrong in the adtech world today.

The technique to making your digital buys work is to always use whitelists. That means don’t let algorithms blindly buy media for you. Test 100% of the media yourself. If you’re convinced it’s real, add it to the whitelist. If not, don’t spend a single penny on the media.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is not a reason to be wasting your dollars on untested media or unproven “audience” schemes pitched by salespeople. If the media works, it will be there tomorrow.

I’m not advocating for moving slowly. Far from it. When you know and understand the media you are buying and the target segment that the media reaches, the quicker you’ll be able to double down and rapidly scale your use of that media.

Takeaway: In 2017, buy digital media like it’s 1987 all over again. And win.

Wishing you all much success in 2017!

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Use Real Metrics, Not Social Media Nonsense

Once again, Facebook had some problems with their math. The good news is that according to their own VP of Marketing Science, Brad Smallwood, it doesn’t matter.

If you’re concerned about the number of clicks, likes, emoji reactions, etc. on Facebook (or possibly any social media), you’re worrying about the wrong things. Smallwood’s own research states:

“…spending marketing dollars on fan acquisition did not in any way contribute to increasing sales or profit…”1

I’ve written about the low signal-to-noise world we inhabit and the difficulty in determining the factors that contribute to our purchase decisions. Unsurprisingly, when looking at their own data, the Facebook Marketing Science team came to the same conclusion.

“…the number of factors affecting both the assessment of users’ norms and posts created so much noise that any judgment of campaign success had no more chance of predicting actual business outcomes (regardless of whether those are sales or opinions) than a random guess.”2

Look at the above quote again. If you’re looking at your social media campaign performance with regard to sales in terms of likes/shares/retweets/whatevers, you’re better off flipping a coin.

Why not focus on real metrics? Look at sales, retention rates, and ARPU. Don’t waste your time with the little kids’ metrics, which make for easier-to-understand and flashier charts at the next convention you attend. Don’t track them in your data warehouse. Don’t put them in Powerpoint slides. Don’t even talk about them. After all, the people that promulgate this nonsense have told you that they are worthless.

Worry about the things that actually generate profit. And win.

P.S. I encourage you to read the original source material for yourself. It’s available here for $20. (Trust me, your CFO will definitely approve this expense.)

1 Smallwood, Brad. “Resisting the Siren Call of Popular Digital Media Measures.” Journal of Advertising Research (2016): 126-131. Print. Page 127.
2 ibid. Page 129.


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Buying Audiences, Getting Worked

You can go to the trouble of carefully segmenting your market, identifying several heterogenous segments and placing each individual or household in one mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive segment. Then you can carefully develop marketing strategies for each segment that move the prospect down the purchase funnel, culminating in a sale at–ideally–an acceptable ROMI.

Or you can find some “audiences” and let an algorithm decide who gets your ads and when. And get worked by the legions of adtech providers.

Think I’m being a little dramatic or that “I don’t get it, man?” Try this:

  • Fire up your Twitter app
  • Start blocking every sponsored post (ad)
  • Do this for a few weeks

You’ll notice two things:

  • The ad frequency stays the same
  • The relevancy of the ads gets even worse

Continue reading

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An Odd Industry: “Marketing Leadership”

I stumbled into some word salad “content” accidentally the other day and was so enraged by the complete and utter lack of meaningful information that I did something crazy. I looked at the bio of the writer. Turns out, it was a CMO that had many years of experience in something called the “marketing leadership industry.”

Please note this. The point in the bio was not about selling more goods and services to customers, nor building brand equity, nor any of the other things we as trained marketers traditionally get paid for.

It seems that “marketing leadership” today means talking at conferences and writing gibberish opinion pieces. Worse, there’s an industry of this, mostly practiced by charlatans. Who knew?

I’d much rather label somebody as a  “leader” who has a track record of practicing proper marketing science and selling more goods and services. As a marketing manager, you’ll learn from that type of person. As a CEO, you have a duty to employ actual marketers in the role of CMO.

Let’s hold “marketing leadership” to a higher standard in 2017, shall we?

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Gaming AdTech: Easier Than Go Fish

I turned off the ads on my blog today after learning that gaming the AdTech ecosystem is easier than teaching a three year old to play Go Fish. A post on my findings is forthcoming. Thanks for bearing with me.

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Why Ads?

Why ads on my personal blog? I’m running a little experiment right now. When I’m done, the ads will come down. I don’t like them either.

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Still Trust in Big Data?

We had an election yesterday where hundreds of millions of dollars of models, data collection and analytics predicted one outcome. We got the other.

Still think you can predict how a particular ad impression will impact a purchase decision for the mouthwash you’re selling? Stop fantasizing about how much adtech will improve your advertising. Start with strategy, not algorithms. And win.

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