March 20, 2018

Preparing For Generation U

They're U-thful, they're Unbelievable, and soon they'll be U-biquitous!

Generation U -- also known as the Unborn Generation -- will soon comprise 100% of global consumers.

This will happen as soon as all the assholes currently alive are dead. At the rate we're going, that could be next Thursday.

That's why smart marketers are already studying the characteristics of this disruptive generation and learning how to engage with them to be engaging with their engagement.

Gen U is different

- Thus far, they are not limited by the artificial boundaries of "being alive"

- Many of them don't know how to spell Vaynerchuk

- They will demand corporate authenticity and responsibility, just as we demand it from our favorite corporations. You know, like Facebook.

- They can't tell Skittles from M&M's

- They are projected to be even more pathetic and useless than Baby Boomers

- They will be the first generation since Millennials who can't wipe themselves

How To Make Your Brand Resonate With Gen U

- Two Words: Content, Content, Content

- Mobilize your gamification. Or gamify your mobilization. Or have mobile conversations. Or... wait a minute, I have it...Virtual Reality or 3-D printing or something. No, no, no... QR Code Storytelling!

- Learn who the intrauterine influencers are and create an umbilical umbrella strategy

- How does your brand narrative align with the prenatal lifestyle?

- Create a placenta play center. Talk about your disruptive activations!

The Facts About Generation U 

- Favorite food: Mashed gluten

- Better get ready...according to, 50% of Gen U's will be women!

- According to research conducted at the University of Icefishing, over 80% will have self-driving cars implanted in their brain. Although, honestly, it's hard to see how.

- They will be the first generation never to see a rerun of Two Broke Girls

- They are a big challenge for marketers to reach because... well, you know, it's kinda hard to reach up there

- They will eschew artificial intelligence in favor of authentic dumbness

March 14, 2018

Ad Tech And Social Pathology

The history of civilization is littered with horrifying social and cultural practices that, at the time, seemed perfectly normal.

Today, we are mortified by the idea of slavery. We cringe at the way women have been treated. We are appalled by the past treatment of religious and ethnic minorities. Past child labor practices seem incomprehensible.

And yet, in the context of those times, these abhorrent customs and practices were not just acceptable, they were established cultural norms.

Sometimes, it is only in retrospect that we understand the harm of social traditions and policies.

Today we may be in the middle of such an unacknowledged and unrecognized pathology. The three-headed monster of ad tech, tracking, and surveillance marketing seem perfectly normal to us. Most people don't give them a second thought as they live so much of their lives online.

But these currently acceptable practices have the potential to lead us into very dangerous waters.

We know the dangers of totalitarian governments. But we have no idea where totalitarian marketing leads. And make no mistake about it -- we are quickly headed toward totalitarian marketing. Very soon marketers and media owners will know everything there is to know about us.

It is not at all farfetched to imagine a time fifty years from now in which people will look back and say, "how could we have allowed marketers to know what we believed, who we talked to, what we said, where we were at all times, and what we did?"

We do not yet know where such unprecedented access to our most personal and private information by organizations unknown to us leads. But I promise you one thing - it ain't good.

History has taught us that the hardest time to recognize social pathology is when you're standing right in the middle of it.

March 08, 2018

Digital First Equals Me First

"Digital first" is the philosophy of imbeciles who know the answer before they know the question.

They know the treatment before they know the condition. They know what tool to use before they know what's broken. Imagine a doctor whose philosophy is "appendectomy first." He knows the cure before he knows the disease.

There is no other industry that would accept such manifest stupidity. But it is not just alive in our industry, it is commonplace.

There are a few reasons why this idiocy exists. First, and most understandable, is that it's what some people were taught. They learned it in school and have sought to learn nothing new since. They have made a practice of interpreting the world through its myopic lens.

Believing in the rapidly decomposing digital fantasy (see this and this,) they never bothered to acquire any other advertising or marketing knowledge. If the only tool you have is a hammer...well, you know the rest.

These people are ignorant, but it is usually an honest ignorance.

But there's another group of "digital firsters" who are not nearly as ignorant and not nearly as honest. They are the ones who put digital first because it is more lucrative. They have found that they can make more money buying digital advertising than traditional advertising. It doesn't really matter to them what's best for you, they know what's best for them.

Sadly, reading between the lines of the ANA's media transparency investigation, some agencies seem to fit nicely into this box. They have no ideological commitment to digital, they have an ideological commitment to money.

Mark Ritson wrote a couple of compelling pieces about this recently in The Australian. Unfortunately, The Australian is behind a paywall so I can't link you to his pieces. After quoting a few media experts who assert that...
- commissions on traditional media usually run the in the 3% range
- commissions on digital media run in the 7-10% range
- because of automation, digital media are no longer any more difficult or time consuming to buy than traditional media
- agencies often set digital media buying quotas for media buyers to meet
... Prof. Ritson concludes...
"...let's also accept something that no one in the industry wants to talk about: that digital media gets a much greater share of the pie than news media (print) because it is more profitable for the agencies that recommend it."
"...The simple marginal profit that agencies make from digital media is almost triple what they would get from channeling the money to news media."
As I said in my Type A Group Newsletter last week, Prof. Ritson is too wise and prudent to make outright accusations. I'm not. There is no doubt in my mind that to some agencies "digital first" is just code for "me first."

Does this mean that everyone who recommends a digital media buy is a doofus or a crook? Of course not. There are circumstances when an online buy is a perfectly reasonable recommendation. But anyone with a functioning brain will consider what the problem is before he recommends a solution. Anyone who starts with the solution -- e.g., "digital first" -- is a fool.

Here's a surefire litmus test for determining who you're dealing with. If they have the answer ready before you tell them the question, they're either imbeciles or opportunists.