The “Social Network” Trap

Facebook (allied to Microsoft) and Myspace (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp) are fake-outs on unsuspecting users, mostly children, teens, and young adults.  The raison d’etre of these two “consumer” traps is to gather marketing data and shove advertising even farther into users’ lives.  This website has long reported on this fact, and will continue to do so, as these cynically planned, BBM-sponsored, wildly popular, narcissism-promoting social control operations expand.

Here was Bob Garfield, who, in the December 1, 2008 issue of Advertising Age, observed this little tidbit for his audience of corporate planners:

500 million social-network users, each generating 1,200 page views per month, represent 600 billion monthly opportunities for an ad impression. [emphasis added]

Funnel Spiders Trap
Funnel Spider's Trap

Ordering Pizza Hut From Your Facebook Page

You know how I’ve been warning you that “social networking” sites like MySpace anf Facebook are Trojan Horses for new and improved marketing campaigns?

I won’t say I told you so…but I told you so.

This just in from Advertising Age:

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — A number of fast-food chains are reaching across the digital divide to get young consumers to order via Facebook or their iPhones. And they’re building valuable databases of their customers in the process.

Pizza Hut, which recently crossed the $1 billion benchmark in online sales, is launching a Facebook application that allows fans to place orders without leaving their profiles. Although online ordering isn’t new — the chain has offered it in some form since 2001 — Bob Kraut, VP-marketing communications at Pizza Hut, said the bulk of that $1 billion in sales has come in the past 18 months. The chain is also launching text-ordering capabilities and e-gift cards, which can be purchased, exchanged and redeemed online.

Pizza Hut’s not alone: A number of the nation’s biggest fast-food chains are beginning to embrace text and iPhone ordering capabilities, at least as tests. Already for the three months ending in August, food marketers sent almost 1.4 million text-message ads, up 37% from the same period last year, according to ComScore’s M:Metrics data. Consumers seem to want the offers: of all the ad categories using SMS marketing, restaurants had the highest response rates, with 15.5% of consumers responding to the ads.

Subway spokesman Les Winograd said some of the chain’s franchisees have begun to offer ordering via text and iPhone apps. The chain has an unusually open policy that lets individual franchisees experiment with their businesses.

“Some of that is stuff that they’re doing on their own, but they share information,” Mr. Winograd said. “We’re constantly encouraging franchisees to think out of the box and try something new. You never know, it might take off.” (He said adding turkey to the menu was a franchisee experiment in the chain’s early days.)

Lessons learned

McDonald’s experimented with text-message ordering in Chicago last summer, with signs encouraging consumers to text in their late-night orders. Spokeswoman Danya Proud said there were “some very good learnings from this campaign about how to execute future viral campaigns.”

Chipotle is developing an iPhone-ordering application to complement its existing web- and fax-ordering platforms. The chain also lets consumers pay online, place group orders and save ordering information for return visits.

While shifting consumer behavior may be behind the move toward mobile ordering, it’s also lucrative. According to Mr. Kraut, online buyers spend more. “It’s a little more upscale demographic, and a lot of people use credit,” he said.

To attract those customers, Pizza Hut is launching a promotion with eMusic.com that gives customers 75 free downloads in exchange for buying a pizza online. The chain is hoping to boost awareness of its online ordering, up its cool factor and build its customer database.

Younger consumers

Mr. Kraut said the chain uses its database for targeted, sometimes monthly promotions, as well as market research. He declined to disclose the size of the database or how much it’s grown this year.

“We’re seeing that our customers are getting younger and younger,” said Mr. Kraut, adding that the eMusic promotion is a way to bring “people in from other source and offering them something extra.” Pizza Hut has done a variety of online promotions this year, including a partnership with Rockstar Games and its Midnight Club Los Angeles driving game.

Package-food companies aren’t sitting on the sidelines either. Kraft chief marketer Mary Beth West said the company has created an iPhone application for consumers to download recipes and shopping lists in the grocery store.

“Even in the current economy, people don’t have any more time than they had before,” Ms. West said. “They’re trying to get dinner on the table, and this is going to help them do that.”

Things like walking, daydreaming, and cooking, you see, are profit-killers. The ideal is the living-room conveyor belt-served “media chair,” in which people sit all day using and being sold corporate capitalism’s wares.

Big Brother would have 100 wet dreams if he’d ever been able to conceive of such an arrangement.

SpySpace, er, MySpace…

I encourage people to quit and avoid so-called “social networking” sites. They are not what they present themselves to be, and to use them is to provide the assholes who own and run them with free marketing information about yourself and your friends and family.

If you doubt this, take a gander at how BBM Asshole Chris DeWolfe, the co-founder of MySpace, which Rupert Murdoch purchased from DeWolfe and his partner Assholes for a half-billion dollars, explains MySpace to Advertising Age:

Advertising Age: How is the new redesign of MySpace supposed to change the way people interact with the site and its brands?

Chris DeWolfe: If you look at the last six months, we’ve added a lot of new features to the site that provide better exposure for brands. MySpace is now up to 73 million unique users. Instead of being considered as “social media” or “social network,” those people who are spending ‘portal’ dollars [i.e., advertising on MSN or Yahoo] are now putting MySpace into that bucket, so the buys are becoming bigger. There’s more sellable inventory on those high-traffic home pages. I would equate our home page more with, say, a Yahoo, where a big, branded advertiser wants to make a big splash, or a big statement. Then MySpace.com becomes a must-buy.

Touching stuff, no? In public, of course, this Asshole will always prattle on about making new places for people to enrich their own lives. Don’t believe it for a second. The only thing these goons are enriching is themselves. Don’t give these creeps any more “sellable inventory.”

“My”Space.com

It preys upon petty vanities. It passes itself off as real human interaction, which, along with corporate capitalism’s #1 form of bread-and-circuses, commercial TV, it helps crowd out in favor of time spent on “marketing platforms.” It is owned by the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s infamous media mega-conglomerate. Its ulterior purpose?

Take a look… The print version of this ad (see the latest edition of Advertising Age) ends by calling myspace.com “the world’s largest targeting platform.”  That, and not any desire to improve human life, is precisely its raison d’etre.  No more, no less.
There you have it.  Corporate espionage as “self expression.” “My” space indeed!

If you fall for this trick, you are feeding the devil, selling your soul for a plastic nickel. Don’t do it.

P.S. It also shows you how “new” the new media are. The hipster creeps who invent and run these things are, if anything, WORSE than the quiz show hucksters who preceded them.