Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some privacy conspiracy theorist. I have nothing to hide (kind of). I will trade private data for information like a blind lemming going over Mt. Everest. Especially if the wonderful Internet machine delivers me information or offers or entertainment that I really like. Unfortunately, it’s not really working out like that. Instead of getting news about a new Sun Ra album coming in to a record store I’ve never heard of that’s just six miles from my home, I get more Facebook feeds alerting me to the wonders of Bonobos. Instead of getting an update on a new Indian restaurant that has hand made mango chutney and a reasonable all you can eat curry lunch, I get more news about Bonobos. Instead of big brother telling me about a cheap flight to a great family vacation spot in Martinique, you get it — Bonobos.
The Facebook has become like watching Days of Our Lives in 1982. Full of ads for stuff I hate. That makes me hate both The Facebook and Days of Our Lives.
And makes me wonder how much more I’m going to be willing to open my kimono wide to every data mining pirate out there who has the galleons to buy, beg, or steal my clicks?
Can they just toss me something that is remotely relevant — news, say, of a free-form uke jam session at a bar with single malt whisky?
Oh, and by the way, what is a Bonobo?
I hate to keep harping on this big data thing. I know it can add clarity and understanding and in our completely interconnected interwebs world it is often the only way we can have any sense of what’s going on.
But I’m here to tell you that big data can also be used as an excuse NOT to act. There are always more numbers to get. There are always more scenarios to evaluate. We will know more in a week. A month. A year. An hour. Five minutes.
Sometimes you have to just do something. I remember picking up a very useful expression from someone, “that client is wearing a belt and suspenders.” What’s it mean? It means they are beyond cautious. They want too much validation. And they look nerdy and ugly and dumb too.
(Now, let me very very clear on this — that was for a long lost client from a million years ago who is out of business, no relation to anyone living!!!)
At any rate, as someone else said, paralysis by analysis.
Hey, sometimes you just gotta throw the pitch. See if the other guy swings. See what happens.
But, alas, the blanket of numbers is too often a security blanket we won’t let go of. And in the meantime, a world of opportunity could be passing us by. Oh, and we look real nerdy too.
I’m just sayin…
And, what’s more, these days it’s where and when you say it too. Is your message for Tacos more relevant on a mobile phone or as a tweet? Does a political solicitation get more traction at four in the afternoon, or does it connect more with people who are surfing the internet at 4 in the morning when they can’t sleep?
Big data can tell us this. We can follow patterns of behavior that show us the strange and wonderful ways that people act — at least when dealing with a screen — and that can inform us about PAST BEHAVIOR.
But that’s not the final be all and end all. Or as they are forced to say in the investment ads, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Add where and when people connect with where and when and how and, most important, why they’ll act. Tomorrow.
And the crazy thing. We can’t know. The suspense, and promise, of the next thing is what keeps us going. So use data to uncover unexpected behavior patterns (for example, something like, “why do so many hunters in the Great North Woods buy Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ hand cream?*)
But use planning, and strategy, and guessing, and heart, to change the way people behave tomorrow.
* The answer on the Skin So Soft question: The stuff scares the hell out of mosquitos! Go figure.
If it ever did.
Someone once said, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. Translated into ad world parlance, you could read that as, the opposite of good isn’t bad, it’s cute. I’ll give you an example. Saw a TV spot last night for ING Bank. It was cute. The casting was cute. The cutting was cute. The messaging was cute.
The only reason I remember it is that I wanted to write about it for this blog. Otherwise, totally invisible and a huge waste of the client’s money. If I am a consumer, or viewer, or multi-tasking civilian, I DO NOT NEED ANY CUTE BANK ADS IN MY LIFE!!! I need information, or entertainment, or insight, or truth — hopefully about banking, even more hopefully that has something to do with ING Bank (if that’s who is paying for it.) I think ING can do it. I know they can. It will just take some guts, some digging, some account planning, and some realization that cute is for puppies and babies but not for the who knows what the hell is going on media world we live in today.
Case closed. (PS — I don’t mean to pick on ING, there are about a million other soft messages out there that could have stood in for it. But you get what I’m saying.)
I noticed an ad the other day for a radical remaking of “The Lone Ranger.” Of course, in Hollywood, there is nothing new over the sun, and the wild masks and inevitable insane music track should make this “interesting,” but what I’m really happy about is that the term, “Silver Bullet” will come back into common parlance. I hope. Because even though we don’t use it so much, we certainly believe in it — the one, magic, powerful shot that cures it all. Which brings me to the future of Internet advertising — or, actually, all advertising.
Because Oreo’s — humble, lowly, unscrew ’em and eat ’em Oreo’s — are showing us a possible way forward. Someone over at the Twitter Switch over at Oreo is doing something very right. We all know about how they Tweeted IMMEDIATELY during the Super Bowl Blackout. The most brilliant Super Bowl ad wasn’t an ad, and didn’t cost a dime. Then, last week, they got into a Twitter Tussle with Twix (that has a ring to it…) You can Google it, but trust me — it’s all reacting AT THE MOMENT. That makes particularly good use of the IMMEDIATE and CHEAPO CHEAPO attributes of web media, and the web experience.
A couple of pieces of the unraveling puzzle? I think so.
I had a technology related kerfuffle last week and lost an entire post to this blog. Some of you got to see it, my comparing Churchill’s speech to what it takes to make a website score big. But most of you missed it. Because, well, because of technical difficulties. That post just got eaten, plain and simple. Yes, WordPress did get back to me with an e-mail from customer support — and I tried what they said, and all that was left of my Churchillian post was a couple of shreds.
Which led me to thinking — as much as we think we’ve got this Internet thing down, we are still in the dark ages. Remember when TV’s sometimes used to have coat hangers draped in tin foil sticking out of them in an vain effort to grab a fuzzy image of Johnny Carson? In many ways, our technology is in the same place. Too many passwords. Or not enough. Dropped calls. Apps v. sites. Streaming v. writing. And consider the government trying to collect tax from cloud-based retailers? What’s that going to do?
Subscribe? Free? Open platform? Closed? Steal? Borrow? On-the-go or on-the-couch? Just remember, we are all still making it up as we go along.
And pass me the tin foil.
(p.s. — perhaps someday I’ll recreate the Churchill post — how very analog of me!!!)
There is a no frills supermarket chain in the Chicago area that features no frills like no frills you’ve ever seen. No baggers. Nobody to take your carts back from the parking lot. One check out line. Blaring bright lights. Some of the food is really good — the produce. Some of it a little more suspect — I won’t mention. Most of the package goods are cunningly designed to ape big budget brands. Mac and Cheese that looks like Kraft, cereal that looks like Kellogg’s, and so on.
But if you’re interested in the power of brands, and more importantly, human behavior revolving around brands, it’s worth a snooping trip. One category that really stuck out to me, HBA, health and beauty. It’s interesting, they’ll pirate lots of things, even antiperspirants, but they won’t touch toothpaste. They still bring in branded toothpaste. Rip off razors, ok. But they’ll have branded toothpaste.
Why is that? Because you don’t want ‘fake’ on your teeth, in your head? Or because of the intense levels of emotional brand loyalty toothpaste, that much maligned category, enjoys? No Charmin in sight, but there’s Crest.
Account planners should take a trip there. And the rip-off Yellow Tail Shiraz ain’t chopped liver neither.