Marilois on Media 11-7-17

Digital Dependence

This is a week where we really can't ignore the societal, ethnographic consequences of digital media. Our lives are digitally dependent. To wit, this week I attended an NBA game, an experience now expertly choreographed with fan interaction. Audience members ham for a chance at jumbotron stardom. But you know what else was on the jumbotron? People looking at their phones. Lots and lots of phone watching, in the midst of millionaire athletes, doing the unimaginable, at ticket prices equivalent to two weeks' of groceries. But then there's this: Russia spent what amounts to a drop in the bucket of ad revenue to influence the presidential election. This week non-CEOs from Google, Twitter and Facebook testified in Congress as to the hacking. Facebook admitted more than 126 million users were targeted with inflammatory political ads, bought by The Internet Research Company, a Kremlin-linked company with a name wrapped in irony. The disruptors are tricky like that. And, yet, Facebook's quarterly profit soars. (79% last quarter) Senator John Kennedy raised an interesting, existential question: If Facebook has 5 million advertisers that change every minute, maybe even every second, what will hiring 10,000 more Facebook police accomplish? Digital media is a powerful, double-edge sword. The collective "we" must be careful how we wield it and cautious in its consumption. I'm unsure how Facebook unwinds this mess. Perhaps, at some point consumers will be so wary of manipulative content that they demand heavily walled gardens. Maybe they can choose their own ad exposure, like Hulu's model? In any case, the situation is a frustration for consumers and legitimate advertisers.

Robots to the Rescue

On the subject of digital immersion, this week some pretty useful advancements from Amazon's Alexa were announced. Alexa can respond to custom phrases, like "Alexa, I'm home," which will automate responsive actions. Google's solution competes, with custom phrases automating multiple actions. "Google, I'm headed home," will provide directions, traffic rerouting and reboot your podcast. Alexa has an additional enhancement where she can schedule actions by smart home appliances. The robots are talking to each other. Marketing firms who create catchy phrases could win at this game of conversion. Alexa, when I say "I'm out of ideas for dinner," order Papa John's pizza home delivery. Come to think of it, that would make a killer TV spot and integrate the mediums of TV with AI. Alexa, let's create a new campaign.

Fog and Football

Hats off to Associated Bank for its attention-grabbing billboard campaign. On billboards, the bank wanted to replicate the effect of Packer's players emerging from the stadium tunnel. So they integrated a fog machine on a billboard. The problem is, passers-by didn't know it was fog and immediately called 911, thinking something was on fire. So what was an out-of-home campaign earned tons and tons of media exposure. To that end, hats off to the Green Bay police for understanding and patience.

Marilois Snowman is managing director + founder of Mediastruction, a media design shop.

Marilois Snowman is managing director + founder of Mediastruction, a media design shop.

Marilois Snowman| Mediastruction | 508-540-3600 |marilois@mediastruction |

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