To extend our recent theme of the need for robot brains, it seems the corporate marketing race has recently been outpacing its top management’s skill set. Hence, at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, they are launching a new “CMO Program,” with “CMO” being Chief Marketing Officer.
The core problem, it seems, is that the mountains of surveillance data being gathered from the internet and toothbrushes are growing faster than our Dear Leaders’ capacities to turn it into shareholders returns.
Here is the explanation from Gregory Carpenter “the James Farley/Booz Allen Hamilton Professor of Marketing Strategy at the Kellogg School of Management and Faculty Director of the Kellogg Markets and Customers Initiative (KMCI), and Academic Director of the [new] Kellogg CMO program”:
[M]any executives have long viewed marketing as more art than science….Companies across industries are struggling to extract value from rapidly evolving technologies such as data analytics and social media, and CMOs will increasingly drive these efforts….[which] have created more dynamic and potentially more profitable opportunities for companies that can infuse marketing into every facet of the enterprise.
While tactics will come and go, the more significant challenge will be organizational. Companies will have to make a massive investment to find, attract, integrate, retain and develop key talent such as data scientists and social media specialists. To be effective, CMOs will also have to gain a better understanding of analytics, social media monitoring and the organizational challenges they pose.
These objectives will require CMOs to expand beyond their traditional responsibilities. Yet many marketing executives lack the range of skills and knowledge to excel in this changing environment. One of the primary obstacles for potential CMOs is that so much of the knowledge they must acquire to be successful lies beyond their formal marketing organization. With little time to learn on the job, the most successful candidates will focus on professional development in the years preceding their ascendancy. Leadership training programs have long been offered to aspiring executives, but CMO candidates must actively seek out mentoring opportunities in increasingly critical areas such as technology and data analytics.
Imagine for a second that you could interview a product. How often is it being used? For how long? And where in the house does it live?
Sounds crazy, but it’s increasingly probable as marketers mine for data beyond the usual places — web browsers, loyalty programs and smartphones — and capture information from pill packages, soda fountains and the most mundane of consumer implements, the toothbrush.Yes. The toothbrush.
Take the $49.99 Beam Brush, launched in January. It syncs with a user’s smartphone to record brushing time, and that data can be tracked and shared with dentists, orthodontists and, eventually, insurance companies.
Sounds crazy? No. Sounds entirely logical, if you understand corporate capitalism and its marketing race.
And here’s the equally predictable thinking behind such new devices:
“People often refer to us as a toothbrush company, but we’re not. We’re actually not interested in toothbrushes at all. We’re interested in health data,” said Alex Frommeyer, co-founder of Beam Technologies, based in Louisville, Ky. “In many ways, [data-tracking] is the entire point” of the Beam Brush.
In the quaint old days in which the TCT book was written, I used to keep track of how ads were showing up in places like urinals and the bottoms of golf holes. Now, the products themselves are being used not just as marketing stimuli, but as yet another way of spying on targets.
Ad Age sees wonders ahead:
[B]eyond fitness and health care, the data mined from sensor-equipped products could hold huge advantages for marketers. The biggest opportunity could be in more “simple product” categories — such as consumer packaged goods — in which data-generating technology helps marketers test ideas and could eventually guide everything from product positioning to distribution.
In effect, data allows marketers to get feedback directly from products, said John T. Cain, VP of SapientNitro and co-founder of Sapient-owned Iota Partners, an agency that “instruments” products and environments to understand consumer behavior.
“If you could talk to the products, you might get a completely different perspective,” he said, doing his best rendition of a 21st century Dr. Dolittle. “As the price of technology comes down, increasingly there will be and can be embedded sensing bits in products.”
My digging around in the Fortune 500 data — part of the slow progress toward the Courting Carmageddon book — shows that the annual revenues of the biggest 100 U.S.-based corporations is now (2011) equal to 50% of U.S. GDP. This is achieved with a number of employees equal to 8.7% of the U.S. labor force.
In 1954, by the way, the Top 100 took in revenues equal to 24% of GDP with employees numbering 7% of the national labor force. Thus, the revenue share has grown four times faster than the employment share, despite the rapid rise of the supposedly labor-intensive service sector of the corporate economy.
Talk about something that’s simply unsustainable! Alas, such utterly basic facts have zero chance of ever being reported in the marketing platform known as the mainstream corporate media…
McDonald’s, by the way, is not in the 2011 Top 100! It is #107…
Doug Pressman (pardon the pun) dug up this old interview. The transcript is here. Seems to me this raises lots of juicy TCT questions, not the least of which is why Huxley saw where the body was buried, but never really got his shovel out to dig…
Advertising Age reports on the evolution of political marketing as handled by its leading practitioner, President Zerobama. The great treasure here is, of course, the thing that lives where, in an actual democracy, a constituency would reside: “the Obama campaign’s data files” on its marketing targets, a.k.a. voters.
The latest news is that the Zerobama campaign wants to pass that treasure to its new post-election selling endeavor, the “lobbying” (read: data-scraping) operation known, in terms that would make Big Brother blush and Ella Baker spin in her grave, as “Organizing for Action.” [Note: TCT refuses to link to this reprehensible scam.]
But wait! This is not yet the bottom of the barrel. According to Ad Age, the real aim in all this is the effort to institutionalize the latest advances. The facts here speak for themselves. Here is Ad Age‘s description of the ultimate reality:
“The VAN,” as it is known in Democratic Party circles, essentially is a storage and management system for its clients’ voter-file data and supporter information. (VAN stands for Voter Activation Network.) VAN’s biggest client, the DNC, has a contract with the company for all its state parties allowing Democratic candidates across the country to access its Vote Builder database, which compiles names, addresses, ages, phone numbers, voting history and other publicly available information.
Voter Activation Network!
For the umpteenth-plus-one time: Orwell would be out of business these days.