Shamelessness on Stilts

She’s a major corporate-news hit now:

Notice the multiple dishonesties on display in this little routine.

1. Engineers “are one of the fastest growing jobs.”  Balderdash.  Not only is the single kind of engineering work on this list hardly a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-build-stuff variety, but it will employ a mere 25,400 individuals by 2020.  That will be something like 1/700th of one percent of the projected labor force then.  Yes, what a promising field!

2. If Ms. Engineer became an engineer — let’s not quibble over actual facts here — then how did that happen, given that she was into typical gendered toys and didn’t know what engineering even was until she was a senior in high school?

3. Does every GoldiBlox toy come with an admission and scholarship to Stanford University?

4. Look again at the kid playing with the actual toy.  How long do you think that will last?

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If You Must Shop…

…turn off your phone.

Helpful story in The New York Times today about the progress of corporate capitalist behavioral tracking. Lowlights:

Nordstrom’s experiment is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers’ behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it.

RetailNext, based in San Jose, Calif., adds data from shoppers’ smartphones to deduce even more specific patterns. If a shopper’s phone is set to look for Wi-Fi networks, a store that offers Wi-Fi can pinpoint where the shopper is in the store, within a 10-foot radius, even if the shopper does not connect to the network, said Tim Callan, RetailNext’s chief marketing officer.

The store can also recognize returning shoppers, because mobile devices send unique identification codes when they search for networks. That means stores can now tell how repeat customers behave and the average time between visits.

RetailNext also uses data to map customers’ paths; perhaps the shopper is 70 percent likely to go right immediately, or 14 percent likely to linger at a display.

Cameras have become so sophisticated, with sharper lenses and data-processing, that companies can analyze what shoppers are looking at, and even what their mood is.

For example, Realeyes, based in London, which analyzes facial cues for responses to online ads, monitors shoppers’ so-called happiness levels in stores and their reactions at the register. Synqera, a start-up in St. Petersburg, Russia, is selling software for checkout devices or computers that tailors marketing messages to a customer’s gender, age and mood, measured by facial recognition.

Of course, this being the NYT, they have to conclude the report by dismissing its meaning. Hence, they end by quoting an über-odious mommy-marketer:

“I would just love it if a coupon pops up on my phone,” said Linda Vertlieb, 30, a blogger in Philadelphia, who said that she was not aware of the tracking methods, but that the idea did not bother her. Stores are “trying to sell, so that makes sense,” she said.

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Total Content

cluster Q: In how many ways can corporate marketing campaigns take the stupidest, hoariest memes and fold them back upon themselves, all in the name of increased material waste (and profit)?

A: Read this, and weep.

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A Small Crisis

corps 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.

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The March of Progress

eyeball Per Advertising Age:

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.”

Market totalitarianism anybody?

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Analyze This!

finger As we TCTers know, Facebook is in the marketing business — nothing more, nothing less. Its reason for existence is to make money by providing other major corporations with a new and improved vehicle for spying on people’s off-the-job habits and preferences.

As such, Facebook is 100 percent subject to the logic of big business marketing, including its competitive, ceaseless expansion and refinement.

Hence, the recent news that Facebook’s subordinate property, the Instagram photo-sharing “service,” has recently started offering Facebook’s real clients access to the new GazeMetrix image analyzer.

What’s that, you ask? Per Advertising Age:

Instagram’s rise is spawning an ecosystem of startups such as Statigram and Nitrogram looking to provide analytics to brands….GazeMetrix’s ability to see what’s inside photos without relying on hashtags to interpret which are relevant is its differentiator.

GazeMetrix is an early stage startup with image-recognition software to let brands track where their logos are being photographed across social media….The idea is to give brands a window into how their logos are representing them, as well as an opportunity to contact users who’ve posted photos of Starbucks cups or cats hugging Coke bottles, and ask for permission to republish them on their own channels.

Of the 25 brands GazeMetrix is tracking, Starbucks is tops in terms of the volume of photos featuring its logo. Runners-up are Coca-Cola, BMW, Monster Energy, Google and Corona.

Translated into English, what this says is that Facebook is gaining the ability to collect data on its victims not only through the words they click on and type, but also through computerized recognition and analysis of the pictures and symbols they post.

TCT wonders: How long until there are Facebook Life Cameras© hung in every home?

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