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The digital dream world is a nightmare

October 21, 2010

The Ad Contrarian has an article in Ad Age about Digital. It’s called Digital Dream World, and it’s worth reading.

Generally, I agree with Bob’s points. Banner ads became the most needy marketing tools on the planet, always asking people to “touch me, feel me, or hit my monkey.” Interactive marketing is one of the dumbest terms ever created to describe what someone does, and I say that as a person who sits in an interactive department. (For a thoughtful look at this, go here)

But this kind of talk bugs me:

“Yes, I know there are examples of brands that have been successful with “conversational” social media strategies. We always hear about them. We never hear about the thousands of failures.”

Because it’s not honest. There are gazillions of examples of total crap across all disciplines. Be it print ads, billboards, radio, TV, to find utter crap, one just needs to look up.That’s partly because to do ads, one only needs a sign on their door. There isn’t any certification in this business. No bar to pass or school to graduate from. Want to do ads? Just convince a client to pay you and away you go.

Worse, these people create the clutter that we (ahem) professionals have to break through. So not only do they suck, but they make it seem like the whole category sucks. As for the good stuff, there’s an award show for every category.

Yes, social media marketing has increased the amount of crap the same way “Photoshop” increased the aforementioned crap (we can do your logo for $10!). Some dude with 10,000 followers on Twitter now promises clients the ability influence their customers on Twitter, not knowing that the so-called Social Media Consultant got the 10K followers for a completely different and non-salesy reason.

And it won’t replicate.

But here’s the point, and the reason I exerted Bob: if we use “look at all the crap” as an argument to stop trying, we’ll all have to get another job. We hear about the successes in social media partly because they are so rare.

An Old Spice here, a Ford there, mix in a tiny bit of Einstein Brother’s Bagels and you’re left with the idea that digital is a channel that’s neither just social or just interactive, but more than an online brochure.com.  Somewhere in the gray areas are the ideas of a new way  to think about the tools in the marketing toolbox. And that doesn’t mean quit using TV, it means how can TV work with Facebook? Should it?

If you hear people say “You must use Facebook to engage with fans” then run. You would if they said “You must do a Billboard.” This isn’t different. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s right.

Still, that doesn’t mean that all brands can’t use social media to aid their marketing efforts.

This is all new, but I happen to think there’s value for the grumpy contrarian in getting insights from what customers really think about brands. Dare I say, eavesdropping on “conversations”. That’s the wind I’m pitching the sail and using to navigate this shit.

Digital is changing things. It’s not changing everything, but it’s impacting everything in little ways. And when those ways add up, it starts to feel scary.

Even scarier is not really knowing how the changes will impact us all.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 25, 2010 7:10 pm

    It is really amazing how the digital age has come with so many positives, that we fail to see the challenges that it presents. Very well done, food for thought!

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