Thursday, 10 January 2013

Mooncalves, marketing, midata, my money and yours

We live in a new world, so we're told. Revolution all around us. Is that true?

Is it dishwasher-proof?
Here's Murad Ahmed in the Times newspaper, 9 January 2013, reporting from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:
For just £60, the world’s first “smart fork” can be yours, boosting your cutlery drawer’s IQ while changing your eating habits and making you thin ...

The HAPIfork gets smarter over time, tracking a person’s rate of eating across several meals and slowly increasing the seconds before it buzzes as you learn to eat more slowly. After a meal, it send the information to your mobile phone.

“People have never questioned how a fork works before,” said a rather trim Andrew Carton, the president of HAPIlab, who says that he once was obese. “They’ve been eating all their lives and think, who are you to tell me I’m not using a fork correctly? But we think the fork can and is evolving.”
Good luck to Mr Carton.

Enough with the "guru"
It's not just the products and services that are changing. Now if you want to sell anything you must use social media. But you don't know anything about social media, do you. It's new. You need an expert.

And luckily, there are more and more of them available. Ms BL Ochman has been keeping count. In 2009, only 60,000 Twitter uses included the phrase "social media" in their bio/profile. As 2013 opens, that's up to a whacking 181,000, including 174 "social media whores", as Ms Ochman tells us, and 10 "social media veterans", one of whom has 17 months experience.

And there are 18,363 "social media gurus". That's a lot of gurus. As Ms Ochman says, realistically:
... let's save "guru" (Sanskrit for "teacher") for religious figures or at least people with real unique knowledge.
Multimedia? See also, profane video from Ms Ochman's website.

Camels in at the deep end
Some of these self-appointed gurus sound as though they're in a bit of a state. Psychologically. Here's Peter Vander Auwera, 8 January 2013, Who am I, Really?
We probably have to invent a new word for this “one environment of me”: maybe the word “Dysical” – as a contraction of Digital and Physical – could do the job? But it is more than one word we need. We need a new language, a new vocabulary, a new grammar; new ways to create the sentences and the narrative that can capture this new form of being. And when we have developed basic literacy in this new language, we’ll perfect it like art, like literature, like poetry, for deep and rich self-expressions ...

We swim in a sea of data and the sea level is rising rapidly. Tens of millions of connected people, billions of sensors, trillions of transactions now work to create unimaginable amounts of information. This is a new environment requiring lots of adaptability. We are a species from the land that have to learn to live in the ocean. Like camels that used to live in the desert, that now have to survive in the ocean ...
"Poetry" – that's the giveaway. Mr Vander Auwera is Belgian, a bit like being French, and they've always gone in for this sort of flowery narcissistic melodramatic stuff, it's nothing new, and he's not nearly as confused (or young) as he sounds.

Marketing funnels
You don't have to be Belgian to use this new grammar. Here's Jamie Beckland. He wants to tell you about post-revolutionary psychographics. Apparently it's The End of Demographics: How Marketers Are Going Deeper With Personal Data:
Marketers have built a temple that needs to be torn down. Demographics have defined the target consumer for more than half a century – poorly. Now, with emerging interest graphs from social networks, behavioral data from search outlets and lifecycle forecasting, we have much better ways of targeting potential customers ... that entire system has broken down ... Fragmentation is now the norm because the pace of change is accelerating. Generations have been getting smaller ...

They were targeting 14 million consumers to sell 50,000 units – that means they were hoping for 3.5 sales for every 1,000 people with whom they connected through their marketing ... What if, instead, you could get 500 sales from every 1,000 people you marketed to? ... It’s possible through psychographic profiling. Psychographics look at the mental model of the consumer in the context of a customer lifecycle ...

Social profile data is the critical cornerstone of psychographic insights. The level of nuance and insight provided by social data, when compared to standard demographics, is the difference between performing surgery with a scalpel or a butter knife. Previously unimaginable questions are now routine: Are customers who kayak more likely to buy water shoes than those who canoe? ... companies such as GraphEffect are measuring purchase intent by doing semantic analysis on Facebook status updates. This type of qualitative analysis can move users into specific marketing funnels from their very first online experience with your brand ...

The next generation of ad targeting will focus more on telling the customer a story over time, based on specific behavior triggers. That means ad networks and clickstream data aggregators will work together to trigger when a customer moves forward in a mental model toward a purchase event ...

Social profile data can also be used to predict customer lifecycle ...These patterns are predictable, so you know the future behavior of ... This vision is starting to gain traction among serious marketers. At the 2009 Internet Strategy Forum, Xerox’s VP of Interactive Marketing, Duane Schulz, said that a 1% clickthrough rate was a huge failure – even though it is 10 times the industry average. In his mind, a successful campaign would never waste 99% of its impressions. Using psychographic data, you don’t have to waste any impressions.
"You don't have to waste any impressions"
In amongst the verbiage, the truth is beginning to be discernible, isn't it. For all the talk of torn-down temples and shorter generations, the sales pitch is the oldest lure in the book – we can foretell the future. Or even, we can create the future – we can make people want to buy intelligent forks.

It's baloney. It's false. They can't.

They can't predict the future but we all fall for it sometimes. Stockbroker X has the best record in the City, he'll make you a small fortune (as long as you give him a big one in the first place). Astrologers in India are still called upon to calculate the most propitious date and time of day for the chairman of a multi-national to sign his next big agreement. Kings and queens have always been susceptible, just as much as the common man or woman or mooncalf ...

... or Whitehall mandarin:
  • Buy these biometrics, Sir Humphrey, and you can eradicate crime.
  • Maintenance costs out of control? Stick your IT in the cloud.
  • Public services to become digital by default? I can provide identity assurance using social profile data.
  • Give me access to everyone's transaction data, and I'll have the economy growing in no time.
What the gurus find when faced with a Whitehall mandarin is that "measuring purchase intent by doing semantic analysis on Facebook status updates, this type of qualitative analysis can move mandarins into specific marketing funnels from their very first online experience with our brand" and by "telling the mandarin a story over time, based on specific behavior triggers, ad networks and clickstream data aggregators will work together to trigger when a mandarin moves forward in a mental model toward a purchase event" funded with large quantities of public money – your money and mine.

Is there any way to stop them falling for it? Maybe. A revolution?


Updated 24.3.14

It's a long time now – November 2012 – since Ctrl-Shift introduced us all to the "quantified self space". And over a year since the post above was published with its cast of delightful eccentrics all animatedly creating the future to order.

Where are they now? Have they all disappeared?

Not a bit of it.

All our favourite self-certified social media whores, veterans and gurus – see Ms BL Ochman above – were gathered together in London last week, 20 March 2014, for PIE2014, the Bretton Woods of the Personal Information Economy.

Peter Vander Auwera remains European champion phrase-turner at this essentially ludic event, with:
Hugo Pinto is his only challenger:
Between them, we learn that the consumer value serum of robot creepiness algorithms uncannily interacts with ad based trust models driven deep into the human data valley, and that's the dynamics of the personal information economy laid bare in a nutshell.

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt was in the PIE as was William Heath, of course, and Christopher Graham, the UK's strangely supportive Information Commissioner. Do they really think this sort of encounter group session furthers the cause of midata and open data?

They do these things differently in the US. While our chaps are busy chatting about uncanny valleys, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg just gets on the phone to President Obama and tells him what he wants, Mark Zuckerberg tells Barack Obama he is 'frustrated' over US government surveillance.

Updated 27.10.14

Here's a new departure in pronouncements on web marketing – a warning that it will be 25 years before anyone including investors can rely on the guru's predictions – "alas, it'll take about 25 more years (on top of the past ten) to collect enough data to prove significance":


Westminstrel said...

Surely I am not the only one now eagerly awaiting a strategic partnership between HAPIlab and midata? Can I look forward to a world where my smart fork will announce that my 3 shovel-loads of food have been deemed adequate for an average man's dinner and that I should consider getting some exercise? All delivered in the pleasing tones and encouraging manner of the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt.

I am warming my plate in anticipation...

David Moss said...

Westminstrel, you talk good sense – HAPIsense – even with your mouth full. Look at the possibilities:

1. Someone at the office standing between you and promotion? Give the fork his phone number. Then you eat a dustbinlidful of spaghetti in 18 seconds and he or she gets arrested for aggravated obesity.

2. Want to shoot a promotional film for Weightwatchers? Take the crew down to any advertising agency – any advertising agency – and watch them all fast for six days while Do Not Disturb means the fork won't let anyone eat.

3. Feeling peckish, but you don't want to upset your HAPIfork? Buy two. That way, you can be loading one up while you eat off the other. Bingo – everyone's HAPI.

4. Over to you ...

David Moss said...

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