Perhaps They Do?
Other than the oldest profession, which tended to attract customers by word of mouth (please forgive the double entendre), it was, ironically, snake oil salesmen who foundered what is today’s ‘ad racket’. Incidentally, I have nothing but the greatest respect for them and the products that they peddled so efficiently. Picture if you will a man, (in those days they were literally all men) armed with nothing but his charm, his wit, and an adventurous confidence, travelling in a covered wagon into unchartered territories on a mission to sell bottles of elixir with promises of rejuvenating the body and mind and quite possibly redemption of the soul for good measure. They sold hope for the future in a bottle of untested, un-researched ‘who knows what’ as a viable mainstream product. And good luck to them.
Without question it took guile and confidence for them to make a buck or two. They didn’t have $10 million ad campaigns based on spurious testimonials or snappy jingles to help peddle their message. They relied on a razor-sharp understanding of the basic wants and aspirations of their market. They played on the dream of an eternal life or at the very least, a quick fix for all human frailties and problems.
They were, in a nutshell, great salesmen. It seems like with the click of a mouse they have been teleported to 2016. It is good and comforting to reflect on their legacy and skill set, and take note that a whole new breed of these most misunderstood folk are living amongst us, plying their craft, bounded by the laws of respectability, whims and conservatism of these times.
Dressed less like Chartered Accountants and/or Lawyers and more like aspiring rock stars, they litter the business community with an anonymity that belies their self absorbed persona, their hyperbole, their sinister motives and sometimes their slippery disposition. Their covered wagon is the Net with all its opportunities for confusing, misleading, misinforming, and misdiagnosing their customers as well as themselves.
They’re “Digital Marketers”, a seemingly harmless enough mantel but I suggest they should be called for what they really are which is, “Digital Swindlers”. Aided and abetted by the idiotic, fanatical and mostly brainless journalists who, locked into a relentless 24 hour news cycle, would sign their own death certificate if it were put to them in such a form that they could trowel it out as the hyper garbage and half-truths that not even Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” would publish.
Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” Reserve Branson.
Am I being too harsh? Allow me to remind of the first years of the Internet revolution.
Dozens of penny dreadful companies became, literally overnight, billion dollar enterprises and their founders, the billionaire darlings of Wall Street. (I.E. Sausage.com etc.) Lorded & positioned on lofty heights; one week later only to come crashing down in a cloud of blue smoke the next taking their idealistic fool investors with them into bankruptcy, or in the case of our American Friends, Chapter 11.
And who could ever forget the hysteria that fueled the Y2K bug as it spread like wild fire across the globe. Anything with a microchip was predicted to come to a grinding halt at the stroke of midnight as the new Millennium arrived.
Toasters and microwaves would wreak havoc demanding revenge from years of abuse. Planes would fall from the sky and life, as we knew it, would come to an inglorious end. Expert after expert came forward with prophecies of doom. The Canadian Government spent 21 billion (yes Billion) dollars fire walling them selves, from what they thought was impending Armageddon. But what happened? “WELL NOTHING”! NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENED.
The sun rose and set exactly as it always had; alarm clocks everywhere went off with precision. Everything if fact performed in the new century exactly as it had in the old.
The only conclusion we can draw is that people are like sheep. If you say something loud and long enough a mindless mob is sure to gather and follow whatever it is you’re extolling. The up side is that there are some very funny consequences and observations.
For example, at an expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If GM had kept up with technology as the computer industry had done, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”
In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release (by their President Mr. Welch no less) that stated:
“If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:”
- For no reason at all, your car would crash twice daily.
- Every time they repainted the lines of the road, you would have to buy a new car.
- Occasionally, executing a manoeuver such as a left-turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, and you would have to reinstall the engine.
- When your car died on the freeway for no reason, you would just accept this, restart it and drive on.
- Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought ‘Car16’ or ‘CarNT’, which added more seats.
- Apple would make a car powered by the sun which was reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive than existing models, but it would only run on five percent of roads.
- Oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single ‘general car default’ warning light.
- New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
- The airbag would say ‘Are you sure’ before going off.
- Occasionally, for no reason, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grabbed the radio antenna.
- GM would require all car buyers to purchase a deluxe set of road maps from Rand McNally (a subsidiary of GM), even though they neither needed them nor wanted them. Trying to delete this option would immediately cause their car’s performance to diminish by 50 per cent or more. GM would become a target of investigation by the Justice Department.
- Every time GM introduced a new model, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as their old car.
- You would press the ‘start’ button to shut off the engine.
It is true that digital has revolutionized the world but it comes with a price a very high price tag.
Traditionally, when we speak of “fraud” we are talking of someone or some group hacking into a bank or credit card company and stealing everything from the children’s college funds to the launch codes for the NORAD US Tactical Nuclear Missile Program”. But what if it were even more insidious and dangerous than just a bit of white-collar jiggery pokery.
What if Digital Deviants are actually undermining our entire commercial marketing environment? Fustian articles by individual such as Ben Malbon “Director of Creative Partnerships at Google,”
and hyperbolic rhetoric from print illywhackers like Gary Stone published with promises of riches beyond the dreams and avarice of Crassus are a huge threat.
Instagram is reporting potentially explosive claims that they have 500 million active users, (up from 400 million from September 2015), and expect another 100 million users in the United States alone by 2018 according to eMarketers latest report.
Snapchat’s co-founders, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy were among the 290 newcomers to Forbes’ billionaires list with each estimated to be worth apparently 2 billion each. (Not bad when you’re still in your 20’s.)
Nowhere can you find a definitive table that equates clicks on a web site to sales. It’s all a hoax of gigantic proportions that is growing still because it seems, it is in no ones interests to stop it. That sheep mentality I mentioned earlier dictates that everyone market on the web with a fear that they are missing out on something if they don’t, not that they know what that something is.
What if the Digital Swindlers moved to a whole new level of skull duggery?
It is estimated this year, 2016, online marketers will spend $140 billion on digital marketing while remaining clueless as to how many of it will be siphoned off by the Digital Swindlers intent on making their ill-gotten gains by falsely claiming advertisements have been seen by millions of consumers who don’t exist. The DS’s infect personal computers with a “bot,” a piece of software that visits websites in the background. Sadly it can’t be detected by the poor unsuspecting user and is nearly impossible for even the most astute of advertisers to spot because it shares the real users “cookie identifier”. The DS’s stack hundreds of ads on top of each other on a web site or they staff an entire website in a single pixel on a page so advertisers are made to believe their ads are being seen when really they are not.
This non “con-comment” results in the views or clicks amounting to zero; no one ever sees the ads. This is not an isolated problem; it is becoming evident that up to 30% of all web traffic is of a non-human origin.
A Recent Article In The Wall Street Journal.
Doubts About Digital Ads Rise Over New Revelations
Advertising industry grapples with questions about viewer metrics, adding to rebate concerns
By SUZANNE VRANICA and MIKE SHIELDS
Marketers who have been pouring huge sums into digital advertising are wrestling with several recent events that add to a troubling picture: some are finding they can’t be sure how well that money was spent or what they’ve received in return for it.
The lack of transparency that plagues the advertising industry was on stark display this week. Revelations that Facebook Inc. overestimated by up to 80% the average time people spent watching video ads on its platform shocked the media and marketing world.
Meanwhile, Japanese ad giant Dentsu Inc. admitted on Friday it overcharged at least 111 companies for Internet ads. The” mea culpa” was prompted by a complaint from Toyota Motor Corp. that its Internet ads weren’t having the promised impact. Dentsu apologized and blamed overworked employees for the overbilling.
Michael Tiffany CEO of White Ops (a company that works on web fraud issues) says they are known as “hot spots”. The most vulnerable involves sellers of adverting to other publishing sites because many do not have sufficient safe guards in their security protocols.
He noted detection was difficult so measuring the actual success of online marketing was problematic in its own right.
However the illusion of the online phenomenon is like the most addictive of drugs, those not doing it are left wondering what they are missing; and those in it, have no real idea if it is doing them any real good. Remember what Albert Einstein said.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”.
RESEARCH CTL, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL