“Amazing?” “Remarkable?” Actually, Not Likely

67% of everything is mediocre (+/- one standard deviation from the mean) and 84% of everything is mediocre or worse.

Seems like 84% of the comments I see on social media start with “amazing” or “remarkable” or similar.

Heuristic: When you see “amazing,” assume the opposite and act accordingly.

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Twitter’s NYC Targeting Tribulations: Dunkin’ Donuts Edition

img_6945As usual this morning, I was blocking brands on Twitter that had the temerity to target me in a poor fashion. Meaning all of them. However, this ad from Dunkin’ Donuts of NY, NJ and Southern CT caught my eye.

Forget for minute that they have only 9,258 followers out of the millions of customers they have in the New York Tri-State area. Or that they only average 5.4 followers for each of the 1,700+ locations. Or that they’ve only received 1,545 “likes” for their Twitter efforts.

The problem with this effort starts with location. I’m not remotely near metro NYC and therefore had zero chance of buying breakfast this morning at Dunkin’ Donuts. But wait, it gets better. Continue reading

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Native Advertising: The Laughs Don’t Stop


Thanks for the retweet!

I ran a quick article on native advertising yesterday. Lo and behold, my article was picked up by a Twitter handle that tweets out positive news about native advertising.

Looks like the bot never read the article. Get some machine learning in there!




You might have read it first, however.

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Three Things I Learned From PewDiePie


Uh oh. They caught me.

Influencer marketing and influencers “…will entrench as defining voices in consumer marketing, as brands concede advertising control and look to passionate brand advocates to sway consumers on social media.” Or so says “social media strategist” Stacy DeBroff.

I predict* influencer marketing will be just one more idea in the list of dubious concepts cast in front of ADD marketers by hucksters in search of a quick buck. It’ll be somewhere near “eyeballs, man, it’s about eyeballs” of the late 90s.

The problem with influencers is that, usually, they’re not. Unless you get a guy like PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg. His huge following of 53 million subscribers, generating 14.7 billion views on YouTube sounds awfully tempting.

You’d want to take advantage of Google’s Preferred program and buy pre-roll video to reach that impressive audience, right? After all, Mr. Pie is very influential and his followers are bound to find that your products and services are irresistible when placed in proximity to him.

Except when he decides to run anti-Semitic videos full of hateful messages and imagery. And had to be dropped like a hot potato by Disney. Think they’re going to be looking carefully at everything they acquired in the Maker acquisition? And want to bet how much influencer marketing they’re doing with their valuable IP?

How do you think your brand equity would fare being seen before that type of “humor?” And if you have been conned into running influencer marketing campaigns, do you know how every one of those influencers is representing your brand? Have you–not your agency–read every word they’ve posted and watched every second of video they’ve uploaded?

Three things I learned from Mr. Pie:

  1. Never work with an influencer marketing agency. If you want to have an endorser of some kind, pick a couple and work directly with them. There’s no need to lose control of your brand to dozens of influencers who you don’t even know and can’t control.
  2. Read and watch everything. You may not pre-approve everything (although I highly recommend it), but you’d better be sure the association between the influencer and your brand is positive.
  3. Consider your brand equity. You’ve got brands that are worth, in many cases, billions of dollars. You wouldn’t give the keys to your car to somebody with a blog and a  YouTube channel. Why would you do the same with an asset worth orders of magnitude more?

Takeaway: Before you give control of your message and the context in which it appears to an “influential,” ask if you can’t get a better return by using one of the other many advertising channels at your disposal. Avoid bad brand association. And win.

*Very easy prediction to make. Read the nonsense here, which is just a taste of what the influencer marketing crowd is peddling.

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Native Advertising: New Name, Same Old Trickery

We used to call this stuff “advertorials.” It was easily identifiable, except to the most gullible reader, and was usually purchased by the most gullible advertiser.

The digital crew call it “native advertising” but it’s the same thing.

Two questions:

  1. If your advertising is so lousy that it’s not working, why do you think sneaking it into view is going to change the performance?
  2. Do you think so little of your target customer that they can’t see through the ruse?

Takeaway: Don’t fall for this digital flimflam. Make good ads. Place them in good locations. Become a marketer again. And win.

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Rise of the Bot: Organic Traffic is “Over”

crazy-people-don-8217-t-know-they-are-crazyOrganic traffic is “over” says Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix.

Usually, when I hear somebody from the online world say something is “over” I laugh. As we know TV is over (we spend 43% of our media time on TV and over 4 1/2 hours a day with live TV), radio is dead (only almost 2 hours daily with AM/FM radio) and so forth.

It’s usually just hype to get you to buy the next shiny object. But the Topix CEO’s claim is something entirely different. He’s gone on the record stating that the wave of the future for publishers is buying traffic.

That means he’s happy to sell you a heaping dose of bots. I’d argue mostly bots, especially if you’re lazy and don’t care to look too closely. Read the AdExchanger article linked above very carefully.

Take a close look at every site on which you purchase impressions. I wrote on this in December, with a quick checklist at the bottom.

Takeaway: You now have to treat every digital impression under the assumption that it’s not human. Fraudulent impressions are not the exception; they are the rule. Be skeptical. Very skeptical.

P.S. If you buy any digital media, I encourage you to read AdExchanger every morning. If you wonder why your working media percentage is so low, the gibberish you see on AdExchanger explains it. Pick a few of the terms and give your head of digital marketing a pop quiz some day.


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“Audiences” Mostly Aren’t

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-3-50-59-pmUnlike theatrical audiences, who pay money and make a conscious decision to invest their time in something, the online audience is very different.

Mostly, it’s people (well, actually bots) that have kind of stumbled on your site/app/whatever and are desperately trying to get to where they intended to go, before the boss catches them.

Targeting “audiences” in the digital world is therefore not as precise as we’ve been led to believe. And it’s mostly a waste of time.

In reality you have to make sure you’re running in the media that’s used by people who are in the market for your category–or who might be in the market for your category. This sounds inefficient but the first step toward buying a product is making a small decision to decide that you’re in the category. There is no such thing as an audience of ready-to-buy people out there. Just bots that are ready to click.

That first decision to enter the category is the reason why “top of the funnel” activity (hate that term) or brand spend (also lousy) is important. Here’s a good article by Gee Ranasinha on why getting attention and, therefore ubiquity, is important.

Takeaway: Remember that your customers are just temporarily your customers. They’re really somebody else’s who just happened to buy your stuff.  “Audiences” in the online world are even more fleeting than customers and are definitely not the same as real audiences. Segment your market, find potential buyers in your category, advertise to them. And win.

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Why Would They…

Shift spending time on a hobby and pay attention to your messages instead?

Stop spending money on the competitive product and buy yours instead?

Reduce buying in one category and buy more from you?

We all work with fixed amounts of time, money, and attention.

If you are to be successful as a marketer, something is going to have to shift. Your target customer is going to have to move time, attention, or money from something they’re doing currently to something different.

Have you worked out yet why your prospects should make that shift, other than it would be good for you if they did so?


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Best Super Bowl Ad? Who Cares?

The no-skin-in-the-game dilettantes will be publishing many lists of the best and worst Super Bowl ads today. Ignore them. Judge the performance of the ads the next time the monthly car sales/beer sales/etc. are published.

“The object of advertising is to sell goods. It has no other justification worth mentioning.”      Raymond Rubicam, Founder, Young & Rubicam

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Digital Media Transparency. Bravo P&G!

P&G is starting out 2017 in a strong fashion, by saying “NO” to the nonsense taking place in the digital marketing ecosystem. All advertisers–that means your organization–should follow suit. Watch Mark Pritchard’s full talk below:

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