December 07, 2017

Best Of 2017 #2: The Future Is The Place To Be


The great thing about the future is that it can't be fact-checked. In our second "Best of 2017" post, we take a look at why the future is so popular among the keynote speaking set.

 When I'm shooting my mouth off at some conference the question I get most frequently is this, "What's the future of advertising?"

I have no fucking idea what's going to happen 10 minutes from now, how the hell am I supposed to know what's going to happen "in the future," whenever the hell that is? For all I know, someday someone might click on a banner ad. Who knows?

But conference goers and press reporters can't help asking that question. They've been trained to do this by marketing yappers.

You see, marketing gurus are usually so confused by all the horseshit generated by their industry that they can't even figure out what's happening now. So they've learned to hide in the future.

The great thing about talking about the future is that you don't have to know anything. You just make shit up and nobody can refute it.

And when the future comes, who's going to remember the baloney you predicted 10 years ago? Meanwhile you make a lot of money and get a lot of press with impressive sounding horseshit.

This strategy also works great for CMOs...

BOSS: Why is business so shitty?
CMO: Well, we're preparing for the future...
Sadly, when the future shows up 18 months later and business is still shitty the CMO gets thrown out on his ass and is replaced by some other nitwit who thinks he knows what the future looks like.

The present, on the other hand, is a dangerous place. It's a place with actual facts. There's accountability. When you say something about the present there's a way to check on it. So if you're a buffoon with a Powerpoint and a bag full of clich├ęs stay away from the present. Nothing to see here. Head for the future - it's your happy place.

One of my personal policies when I do talks is to never talk about the future. The present is bad enough. The only time I do so is to ridicule predictions made by marketing geniuses. Always good for a few laughs.

I try only to speak about what's currently happening. Not horseshit about stuff that may or may not happen in 10 years. A good deal of what I talk about is how different the present is from the once certain predictions of marketing futurists.

I go to a lot of conferences (hey, it's a living) and I have to listen to a lot of speakers. It's pretty easy to know pretty quickly who the bullshit artists are. They're the ones who are telling us what the future is going to be like and warning us that we'd better be ready for it or we'll be left behind. And being ready for it usually includes buying into some baloney they're selling. 

The futurists know nothing that you don't know. Well, I'm wrong. They know one thing - they know how to turn bullshit into a speaking fee.

And they always have an escape valve. When you point out that a prediction of theirs was 100% dead-ass wrong, they give you this -- "just wait, you'll see."

In other words, they kick the can farther into the future. It's a no-lose proposition.

So I have some predictions to make about the future...
  • Social media will replace advertising
  • The 30-second spot is dead
  • Google glasses will be everywhere
  • TV will die
  • QR codes will change advertising
  • Interactive TV will be huge
Just wait, you'll see.

December 06, 2017

Best of 2017: Social Media Agency Of The Year For Not Doing Social Media


Since it's December and I'm a lazy-ass bastard, it's a good time to re-publish a series of "best ofs." One of these years I'm going to do a "worst of" but I'm afraid it would go on for months. Anyhow, here's the first of this year's "best ofs" from last January. It's about BBDO winning "Social Media Agency Of The Year."

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.

November 29, 2017

You Are Not In Charge. Get Used To It.



The New York Times,  November 29, 2017...
"The five most valuable American companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — control much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to nearly all of the online ad business. A handful of broadband companies...provide virtually all the internet connections to American homes and smartphones....Together these giants have carved the internet into a historically profitable system of fiefs."
Hey, but don't worry. You're in charge. It says so everywhere - "the consumer is in charge."

Of all the idiotic utopian nonsense about the web, there is probably nothing to rival this stupidity. They have all the power but we're in charge. Right.

Here's how in charge we are:
Staggering Variety of Clandestine Trackers Found in Popular Android Apps
Researchers at Yale...have documented the proliferation of tracking software on smartphones, finding that weather, flashlight, ride-sharing, and dating apps...are infested with dozens of different types of trackers collecting vast amounts of information to better target advertising....researchers identified 44 trackers in more than 300 apps for Google’s Android smartphone operating system. The apps, collectively, have been downloaded billions of times.
Then there's this...
"...one type of script allows whoever owns the website you’re perusing to literally watch whatever you’re doing. Called “session replay” scripts, these services record everything you type, where you move your mouse, and more. This isn’t anonymized data collection–it’s very personal. It’s “as if someone is looking over your shoulder,” write the Princeton computer science researchers..."
It was supposed to be democratizing. It was supposed to put power in the hands of the public.

The web is now very little more than a very large, immensely profitable marketing spy agency in which huge global entities follow us around, secretly collect personal information about us, and attempt to monetize our every move.

You are not in charge.