Elephant in the Room
So I guess we really can't NOT talk about Facebook this week. What you may want to know, in no particular order of importance:
- This might be a good time to invest in traditional media. If I own a group of radio and TV stations, I'm reminding marketers of something. Guess what broadcast doesn't do? It doesn't stalk consumers. Yes, it disrupts the experience. But at least it doesn't assume consumer mindsets and leverage their weaknesses. And of course billboards can't be turned off, even if they can now track passing consumers and retarget them via digital devices.
- Which leads me to the next point. Facebook is getting a lot of grief. Yes, they have a responsibility to their constituents. But we media agencies know that Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg. There are several other very powerful data companies that know A LOT about consumers. Like Google.
- So if I'm Google, I'm thinking about branding. Facebook's brand is so inextricably tied to its management, Cheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg. There's a face and a name to vilify in the zeitgeist of privacy invasion outrage. Kind of challenging to pinpoint that anger at Google, whose brand is faceless, a behemoth of technology. Google's persona is more artificial intelligence then human interaction. But let's not deceive ourselves, Google tracks us just as precisely as Facebook. It will be interesting to see with which data companies Google has traded consumer insights.
- Like LiveRamp, a company owned by Axciom, a powerful data company that has mapped over 250 million Americans' devices to street address to IP addresses to email address.
- Let's say Americans delete Facebook in unprecedented numbers. We cannot forget that Facebook also owns Instagram. And WhatsApp and Friendster and Oculus. And tons of talent. So, really, we need to get our act together in terms of digital engagement rules, because Facebook. with a valuation at nearly $500 billion, can buy whatever new social sandbox consumers adopt.
- And that brings up another good point. What should the rules of engagement look like? Some marketers have suggested we compensate consumers for their attention. Flat out pay them. It's a tricky balance. We've long held the model of you-give-us-attention-and-we-give-you-free-content. But then this digital generation came along and wanted content without the advertising disruption. So marketers, including political characters, got tricky and made advertising look like content.
- In defense of my industry, at least most marketers concentrate on targeting consumers with feel-good messaging and relevant information, meant to make life better. Mark Zuckerberg announced this week several strategies that will make Facebook data mining more transparent. What will be interesting is how consumers react to the knowledge that they have no control over their digital footsteps, a fact that most of the Digital Generation has already accepted.
Marilois Snowman| Mediastruction | 508-540-3600 |marilois@mediastruction |