Friday, August 31, 2012

Whither the web

Today one of my favorite marketers, Seth Godin, has written a long (for him) explanation of the difference between magazine ads and web ads and why ads on the web will win in the end. You can read the entire post here, but I think the following paragraph sums up his position pretty well.
"Until advertisers start to value the focused, memorable, impactful opportunity they have in buying the right ads in the right place for the right audience, web users are going to be stuck seeing irrelevant ads on sites that don't respect their time and attention as much as they should. We have salespeople and investors and agencies and buyers that come from a world of mass and scarcity, and the opportunities of focus and connection and abundance are taking a while to sink in."
While I don't disagree with the theory of his argument, in practice what he's hoping for is a world I'm not sure will ever exist.

To achieve the kind of pinpoint accuracy Seth envisions requires people to give up massive amounts of data – or marketers to practice data mining on a scale that no privacy advocate would ever allow.

This marketers' nirvana where consumer purchase history, online behavior, GPS location, attitudes and other discoverable data are all compiled, analyzed and employed in the service of connecting a single consumer with a tube of toothpaste, or some other product, just isn't going to happen.

At least not in any world I want to live in.

Marketing has been and will always be as much an art as a science, because a great number of consumers will be increasingly careful with the data they share and continue to be unpredictable in their actions.

Anyone who thinks they have a handle "the science" of online marketing need only look at the plummeting value of Facebook (its IPO price was set based on its speculative value as a marketing vehicle) to see how scientific it really is.

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