Friday, November 11, 2016

selling the digital economy

Functional stupidity, or Fachidioten as the Germans wonderfully phrase it, tends to manifest itself in three main behaviours.

Not thinking about your assumptions
Not asking why you are doing something
Not considering the consequences or wider meaning of your actions.

There's a whole book on this stuff, I challenge you to read it and not weep with equal parts hilarity and despair.

We attended a business breakfast seminar this week hosted by two digital economy product/services.

Their principal aim, obviously, was to demonstrate the value of their platforms to the media community.

I'm not going to name them specifically - this piece is in no way an attack on those companies in particular - however events conspired to futher demonstrate some of the prevalent fachidioten style ideological dissonance among media types, these days.

The dominant themes of discussion revolved around millennials (natch), the benefits to advertisers of the platforms' capabilities in automation, algorithm curation, programmatic approaches, data-driven approaches, hyper personalisation and extreme targeting (by age, gender, location, mood, behaviour, real-time and every conceivable niche etc). 

Cue head-nodding across the floor.

(That data-driven targeting is increasingly, and unquestioningly, assumed and accepted as inherently good is fascinating, but a topic for another time).

Following the presentations, came the obligatory Q&A.

An non-millennial, woman at the back of the hall raised her hand with a question for the vendors.
In a quiet voice she graciously acknowledged the efforts our host were making to adapt there platforms to the technological, targeting efficiency and performance needs of modern marketers.

Then in the very same modest way she dropped the bomb.

'Could [the vendors] tell us a bit about what they were doing to grow their own user base, and grow their own brands?'

To which the digital economy companies representatives - without the slightest recognition of the irony that was to follow - happily chirped, 

'Were running TV ads, doing press and outdoor and partnering with large telco's on their advertising and partnering with the big supermarkets' 

'Thank you' she replied, with a very slight - but visible to me - half-smile.