I came across this at Logic+Emotion. Twitter, among a number of other Web 2.0 things makes Marc Simon’s list of the 10 Most Asinine Online Trends and Why CMO’s Should Ignore Them. The article really got to me (and I’m not the only one), so I had to rant about it.
The problem I have with Simon’s list is that he seems to view marketing the way Seth Godin says the world used to before the Web: It’s shouting at strangers. At least that’s the impression I get when Simon talks about using 140 characters to shout out about what they’re doing as being an advertising platform. In the process of missing Twitter’s point, he’s completely missed the whole Web 2.0 point: it’s not about shouting at anyone, it’s about collaboration and communication. Twitter enables real-time conversations, not shouting, between folks who want to communicate. Viewing as a place to stick banner advertising clearly misses its real purpose.
In fact, Simon mistakes so many things as one-way vehicles to shout yet more advertising messages that you have to shake your head:
1) Virtual Worlds: “Today, walking (or flying) through these branded areas is more chilling and depressing than walking through an abandoned amusement park. Do you really think IBM’s brand is being helped by hosting a 3-D area that has tumbleweeds rolling through it?” No, of course not. But whose fault is it if advertisers thought of virtual worlds as a place where anyone would want to fly through a 3D display filled with essentially billboards? Where was the thinking about interactivity, 2-way communication, and collaboration?
2) Pay for Post: “Do marketers seriously believe consumers are going to be gullible enough to believe product recommendations from people who are being paid to recommend the products?” Partial redemption on this one. There is no real collaboration with Pay for Post.
3) Smart Ads: “Ad units capable of displaying customized creative keyed to historical search behavior are a great idea in theory,” but Simon’s concern is more than one person uses the computer and so the wrong ad may be served up as users for the machine change. Now completely ignoring the many ways this particular problem could be overcome, why are we back to trying to make sure the right people are listening when we start shouting? Quit shouting! Go interactive. What better way to ensure you have the right person than to have a dialog?
4) Searchless Advertising: Simon has figured out that ads keyed to search beat a lot of conventional advertising. Nice job being hip with the Internet, there Marc. Too bad this stuff has been done to death. The Venture Capitalists I know refer to Google Ad Words as a tax on marketing. You have to do it, but if that’s all you do, you can’t rise above the crowd because everyone is doing it.
I could go on, but it’s too painful to go through the whole list and the point has been made. Heck, Fred Thompson understands the web better than this guy. Maybe the whole problem is that it was an article in Advertising Age. Just try reading the comments on Simon’s article there without handing over your passport and you’ll see what I mean.
Stop thinking that the Shouting Can Continue Until Clickthroughs Improve. Start thinking about the Web as a 2-way medium. Consider how persuasion ought to work in a Web 2.0 world. Think about how Learning Styles affect how people are receiving your message and how they’re prepared to interact with you.
Corporate Journalism vs PR: Another take on how to stop shouting and start listening for better results.
Organic Branding: “People don’t buy your stuff for your sake, but for their own sake,” sez Bizbob