July 23, 2014

Twitter Giving Up On Social Media Marketing?

Here at The Ketel One Executive Center of The Ad Contrarian Global Headquarters, we've been saying for some time that:
a) The delusion of social media marketing is rapidly evaporating
b) Social media sites are morphing into channels for carrying traditional paid advertising as fast as they possibly can
There are three reasons for this
1) Consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands"
2) Consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands"
3) Did I mention that consumers have shown approximately zero interest in having "conversations about brands?"
If you need proof of this, click on over to your Facebook page and see if you can find a conversation about a brand. What you'll find is a festival of paid advertising.

While the dim bulbs in the marketing industry spent 5 years exhorting us to "join the conversation" actual human beings were thinking "what fucking conversation?"

So the lovely fantasy of consumers carrying our marketing water for us by going online to extol the virtues of our mittens, mayonnaise, and motor oil has gone all sour.

Facebook saw the light and stopped pretending to be a vehicle for social media marketing. They became a born-again old-school paid advertising channel. As one Facebook executive put it to Time magazine...
“…if businesses want to make sure that people see their content the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising.”
If I may take the liberty of translating the above sentence, here's what the Facebook guy was trying to say:
"We can't make a nickel off this social media bullshit, but we can have a nice juicy steak dinner selling some good ol' fashioned paid ads."
Of course Facebook's rival, Twitter, is drooling.

Having seen what Facebook's stock price did once Facebook stopped living in new-age never-never-land and started seriously selling real ads, Twitter wants a slice.

But first they have to figure out how to convince people -- especially marketers and investors -- that they are not what they said they were.

The problem is that marketers and investors love the idea of social media but hate the reality of it. They want to see real money from real ad sales. Not hot air about "conversations."

And so Twitter is now on a mission to convince the world that they are not really a social network.

According to The Wall Street Journal last week...
"Executives hope to shift the perception of Twitter from a social network to a broadcast platform"
A broadcast platform? But hold it. Isn't broadcast dead?

The only question now is how long it will take the cement-heads in agencies and marketing departments -- who are still gorging on empty calories at the social media buffet -- to figure out what the hell is going on.

July 21, 2014

Technology And Consumer Behavior

Last week I gave a talk at a national real estate conference. What do I know about real estate? As I told the conference, the only real estate transaction I ever made a nickel on was when my house burned down. 

Putting the talk together, however, gave me an opportunity to clarify some thoughts I've had about the relationship between technology and consumer behavior. Here's an edited excerpt from the talk:

Technology has changed our lives. It has changed the way we live, the way we do business… it has brought us new and useful tools for our companies, and it has simplified a lot of our daunting tasks.

But there is an untold story of the digital age. It is the remarkable degree to which consumer behavior has remained stable in light of a revolution in technology, communication, and media.

Technology has had an enormous impact on our industries and our companies. And we naturally assume that it has had a similar impact on consumer behavior. I'm not so sure. Just because technology has changed what we do so much, doesn't mean it has changed what they do so much.

Marketers are resolutely attached to the belief that new technology invariably leads to large-scale disruptions in consumer behavior. My purpose this morning is to present you with a different point of view. 

In addition to my advertising career, I also spent a few years as a science teacher, and one year as a special assistant to the Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences.

Being around science practitioners gave me a healthy repect for the difference between a fact and an opinion. So for this talk we are going to dispense with the immoderate opinions and assertions of many in my industry, and talk about facts.

Here are 7 marketing and media facts you may find interesting:
1. E-commerce in the US accounted for only 6% percent of total retail sales in the 1st quarter of this year. 94% of retail activity is still done in a store.

2. Contrary to the confident predictions of all our media experts, over the past few years TV viewing has reached its highest point in history.

3. The average American spends over 7 times as much time watching TV as she does on line.

4. Only 8% of video viewing is playback from a video recorder. 92% of TV viewing is done live.

5. Since 2011, when mobile devices like tablets and smart phone took off, the media device that has suffered the worst decline is not TV or radio, it is the personal computer. In fact, between 2011 and 2013 time spent online with personal computers dropped at 7 times the rate of TV.

6. Notwithstanding all the hype about mobile commerce, in 2013 commerce on a smart phone accounted for less than ¼ of 1% of total retail activity.

7. Despite all the hyperventilating about the web replacing television, 97% of all video viewing is still done on a TV. Only 3% is done online.
So what are we to make of these facts?

The conclusion I have drawn — one that I have come to often in my career — is that marketers almost always overestimate consumers' appetite for new things, and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior. 
And now for the sales pitch. If you're having a sales meeting, conference, or other business event, and you need some speakers that won't bore the shit out of your attendees with the same old bullshit, Type A can help. Here are some "reviews" from last week's talk:
If you want info about having Type A at your event, contact us here. Thanks.

July 16, 2014

The Dumbest People On Earth?

Just when you think the online advertising industry can't get any more absurd, they prove once again how groundbreakingly awesome they are.

The current buffoonery is over "viewability."

You see, twenty years into online advertising, advertisers are finally getting their heads out of their behinds and realizing that about half the ads they have been paying for are not viewable.

We're not talking here about the 99.9% of online ads that are ignored because they are so fucking ugly and stupid. We're talking about 50% of all ads that are supposed to appear on a page but don't.

Even if someone was dumb enough to want to look at these things they can't because they ain't there.

Of course, the online publishing industry is shocked... shocked I tell you!
You wanted your ads to be VIEWABLE? Oh, why didn't you say so? We thought you just wanted to pay us for...well, for being like so hip and cutting edge and totally techno and having like metrics and data and shit.
So now the morons who have been buying this crap for 20 years are playing hardball with the publishers. They are insisting that their ads be viewable. Next these bedwetters will be going to restaurants insisting that their meals be edible. Whiners.

But here's the best part.

The Media Ratings Council (whoever the hell they are) has an official standard for "viewability." If half the pixels of an ad are viewable for one continuous second, the ad is deemed to be "Officially Viewable."

I love the "one continuous second" thing. Because, you know, if half the pixels are viewable for, like, two halves of a second, that shit just ain't gonna work. But one continuous second, well, that's advertising gold!

Here's what an agency research genius has to say about this:
"...calling for more than one second in-view would be difficult to execute, potentially pushing the pendulum too far..."
Oh no, we wouldn't want to push that pendulum past one second. Someone might actually notice the fucking thing.

Amazingly, this quote appears in an article entitled "The Viewability Debate: Being Seen Is Good, but One Second Isn't Enough" -- written by the same person who is afraid to push the pendulum past one second. Someone is very confused.

Well, whatever the agency and research dimwits have to say, the bottom line is this -- you have to give the online advertising sales industry credit. It takes an astounding degree of artistry and talent to grow at double digit rates when you're selling something that is:
Either the people selling this stuff are the smartest people on earth, or the people buying it are the dumbest.