Virtue Signaling and Fake Marketers

Marketing has changed forever” is the gospel according to the fake marketers.

Wrote Malcolm Auld in his brilliant article yesterday. Since we’re in the era of fake news, fake traffic, fake impressions, fake agencies, and fake presidents, let’s call out the charlatans for what they are. Fake.

To stiffen your resolve against the onslaught of BS from marketing charlatans, I encourage you to read Mr. Auld’s excellent How the fake marketers used virtue signals to establish credibility…

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We Couldn’t Afford To Buy Records

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 5.30.48 PMI have been under the mistaken impression that Duane Eddy, the King of Twang, was no longer with us. I just learned today, courtesy of Premier Guitar, that Mr. Eddy is still with us, going strong and will celebrate his 80th birthday on April 26th.

In an interview in this month’s Premier Guitar, he describes tuning his guitar quickly when listening to the radio to learn country music songs. The songs were never quite in A440 because everything was tuned to whatever piano was around. The reason for his need to tune quickly to the radio?  “We couldn’t afford to buy records.”

That’s a common theme from many of the legendary early stars of rock and roll. They made do with what they had at hand. Though hard work and talent, they shaped rock music with sounds and themes we hear to this day. Check out the video below to see the crowds Mr. Eddy was drawing as he helped start rock and roll. And please read the interview with him in Premier Guitar. Utterly fascinating.

Happy 80th, Duane Eddy!

 

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Media Whitewash

The ever thought-provoking Don Marti wrote something in “This is why we can’t have nice brands” on February 17th that reminded me of a standard direct mail practice:

“Twitter has a solution that keeps its ads saleable: just don’t show any ads to important people. I’m surprised they can get away with this, but given the mix of rip-off and real brand ads I keep seeing there, it seems to be working.”

Back in the heyday of direct mail, we had small but important lists of people that we never wanted to promote. That list included the executives in our company*, state attorneys general and staff, and regulators of various types, among other folks.

You’d never want to accidentally put an aggressive direct mail piece into the mailbox of an AG who was running for governor, for example. The suppression file of a few thousand names was worth its weight in gold in avoiding legal issues and was trivially easy to do in the merge/purge.

But how does suppressing one’s own executives in direct mail relate to Twitter? Continue reading

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Humans

$_3How many humans are in each segment of your category buyers? And how many humans are in each audience at each publisher?

You need to know the answers to both questions for your campaigns to be successful.

Not cookies. Not MAIDs. Not devices. Not size of the “graph.” Always think and act in terms of humans FTW.

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Unilever Drains the Digital Swamp?

558827-conversational-platforms-gartner-2017

Want to know what a “platform” does? Well, this doesn’t doesn’t help.

Unilever’s Keith Weed will speak at the IAB today. He’ll talk about his frustration with the lack of the “3 Vs” (viewability, verification, value) in social media platforms. But he’s really looking to have his Marc Pritchard moment by threatening to pull Unilever’s spending from social media platforms, with the following manifesto:

Unilever’s transparency commitments

  • Unilever will not invest in platforms that do not protect children or which create division in society.
  • Unilever is committed to tackling gender stereotypes in advertising through #Unstereotype and championing this across the industry through #SeeHer and the #Unstereotype Alliance.
  • Unilever will only partner with organizations which are committed to creating better digital infrastructure, such as aligning around one measurement system and improving the consumer experience.

Bravo for Unilever. Money is oxygen to Facebook and Google. Removing it, in the form of advertiser money, gets the message across. Advertisers and society are frustrated with the “we’re just a platform” B.S. that they hide behind.

The only quibble I have with the Unilever transparency commitments is the corporate-speak. Why not just say*:

  • We won’t spend our money at publishers who publish garbage.
  • Our ads will treat all people with respect.
  • We’ll only buy media that we can measure.

As you listen to and read comments on Mr. Weed’s talk, watch the use of the word “platform.” When you hear that word, it means that the owner of the platform is a middleman who can charge a toll and takes no responsibility for what happens on the platform. In other words, a platform is where a fool and his money are parted by the owner of the platform.

Takeaway: Stop buying non-transparent garbage inventory. Stop feeding “platform” middlemen with your media dollars. Demand accountability from everybody in advertising. And win.

* I’ll just call these the Pilipczuk transparency principles™.

Bonus content Continue reading

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Self-Deception in Thought

“The wish is parent to the thought, and that is why nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each person wishes, that they also believe to be true.”  Demosthenes

So Dr. Robert Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago, starts his speech “Liberal Arts, Free Expression, and the Demosthenes-Feynman Trap.” Feynman, in character, said it more simply in 1974:

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.”

We all have our jobs to do and have ways to do them successfully. Those systems are built upon a series of beliefs. Most of the time, we don’t have to worry about the underlying assumptions upon which are beliefs are built. We just do our jobs.

As Demosthenes and Feynman warn, the hardest thing to avoid is our own self-deception in thought. The commonly accepted ways of doing things might not be right. Those assurances from “experts” might not be based on rigorously-proven and tested underlying assumptions. The only way to know is to ask.

Takeaway: Every once in a while, seek out the skeptic or the Advocatus Diaboli, and ask “why?” And really listen.

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Name Those Ads

It’s been two days since the Super Bowl. Quick, and without thinking too hard, write down:

  1. The ads you saw on the Super Bowl on Sunday
  2. The digital ads you saw this morning as you read the news with coffee

Notice anything?

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Hallelujah! Millennials Are Dead. Here Comes Generation Z

IMG_7399Just when I was about to open a vein over the incessant furor about how Millennials are different, unique and in need of such nonsense as influencer marketing, they’re dead.

Here comes Gen Z (sheesh–will somebody brand the next round of generational crap better?) to mesmerize the marketing magpies. After reading this issue of Ad Age, I can safely predict that the next round of nonsense sold to us under the guise of reaching this “special” group will be even more idiotic than the ad tech and mar tech invented to scam advertisers help us reach Millennials. Heaven help us. Scratch that. Ritson help us!

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Be The Solution

tenorWe get the advertising we deserve. As marketers, we’ve put our skepticism on hold. And we’ve been taken. Programmatic buying, content marketing, influencer marketing, and native advertising are just a few of the fallacies the advertising ecosystem has foisted on marketers in the last few years.

We’re just magpies, looking for next shiny thing. And magpies, in case you didn’t know, can’t do science. An infographic or a vendor white paper is about as scientific as most of us get. And because we’re easy to fool, it’s easy for those fooling us to use our own tendencies against us.

Bob Hoffman quotes Richard Feynman extensively in The Problem Isn’t Technology. It’s Us. I encourage you to read Feynman’s address to the 1974 graduating class at Caltech, Cargo Cult Science.

Although Feynman was speaking in the age of ESP, transcendental meditation, Uri Geller, and other such woo, he was really speaking about the eternal problem of human nature. We’ve wanted to believe in magic since we sat in caves, looking at the stars, and making up stories about what they were and how they go there.

The caveman with the best story got a special hat, a bigger cave, and tribute from the other cavemen. The cavemen today get a C round, unicorn status, and a perpetual speaking slot at every conference to feed you more B.S. If they’re really good, they go to Davos. Or get a TED talk.

Be the solution. Run clean univariate tests. Hire a few people with grey hair that have seen a few cycles of B.S. Most of all, be scientific. Science is harder work than unthinking believing, but will do wonders for your bottom line.

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Remove Tracking Pixels, Secure Your Data

Data leakage from publisher sites results in loss of data revenue for the publisher. An unsophisticated buyer would never buy premium first-party data from the publisher, when they can buy “the same” stuff for pennies on the dollar from vendor X.

Data leakage isn’t just about lost revenue. It opens up the publisher to legal risk, depending on local regulations (cough, GDPR).

Thoughts on dealing with data thieves are here. But the article doesn’t provide the correct and easy answer. Remove the tracking pixels. What do you think those 50 or 60 trackers on your site are doing anyway? Think you’re getting full value from the data that’s leaking out?

I’ve got a Rolex for $30 if you do.

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