Eye in the Sky Making You Buy

mind reading image Big business marketing grows faster than the corporate capitalist economy from which it logically and necessarily emerges.

Here at TCT, we keep track of the resulting Orwellian news from the general human, rather than MSM/capitalist, perspective.

The latest is more effort in the direction of getting computers to be able to read images on the internet. Currently, those remain mostly grayed-out spots to the data harvesters.

But, because of the special richness and emotionality of images, this will very likely change sometime soon. Per Ad Age:

When then-Google exec Vic Gundotra took the stage at the company’s annual developer conference, he showed a photo of the Eiffel Tower. Many in attendance automatically recognized the landmark — and so did Google’s computers.

Since that milestone in May 2013, Google, along with Yahoo, Facebook and other companies, has been struggling to get at a gold mine of potential data: the millions of images flitting about the web. Image-recognition technology is the next frontier for companies that have built multibillion dollar businesses on their ability to convert data into more personalized content for audiences and better targeting for advertisers.

“There’s this treasure trove of data these companies are sitting on in the form of the visual web. That data for the most part is uncategorized. It’s a black box,” said Justin Fuisz, CEO of Fuisz Media, a company that uses image recognition to attach branded calls to action to objects in videos.

The steps are slow, due to the genuinely deep problems involved in trying to mechanically extract human meanings from images. But some problems (not climate change, war, or poverty, mind you) simply must be solved! Hence, the state-of-affairs in late 2014:

“Our clients have never given it much thought. But as soon as it’s available at scale, it’s going to be huge,” said Doug Kofoid, president-global solutions at Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi.

“When we are talking in theoretical terms about [Horizon Media client] Weight Watchers for instance, we can identify who is pinning Weight Watchers specific materials — food, recipes — but also any type of food content that we think would be a qualifier for a potential Weight Watcher prospect. So it becomes very clearly about the actual content that’s pinned,” said Horizon Media Chief Digital Officer Donald Williams.

“The biggest surprise I had was the richness of those images and how much personal information is coming across in the richness of those images,” said Starcom MediaVest Group’s global research lead Kate Sirkin. “It really does start to give you a good flavor of interests and lifestyle and passions of the consumer.”

Big Brother would be sick with jealousy.

Sound Familiar?

“What was it that at every decisive moment made every British statesman do the wrong thing with so unerring an instinct?

“The underlying fact was that the whole position of the moneyed class had long ceased to be justifiable. There they sat, at the centre of a vast empire and a world-wide financial network, drawing interest and profits and spending them – on what? It was fair to say that life within the British Empire was in many ways better than life outside it. Still, the Empire was underdeveloped, India slept in the Middle Ages, the Dominions lay empty, with foreigners jealously barred out, and even England was full of slums and unemployment. Only half a million people, the people in the country houses, definitely benefited from the existing system. Moreover, the tendency of small businesses to merge together into large ones robbed more and more of the moneyed class of their function and turned them into mere owners, their work being done for them by salaried managers and technicians. For long past there had been in England an entirely functionless class, living on money that was invested they hardly knew where, the ‘idle rich’, the people whose photographs you can look at in the Tatler and the Bystander, always supposing that you want to. The existence of these people was by any standard unjustifiable. They were simply parasites, less useful to society than his fleas are to a dog.

“By 1920 there were many people who were aware of all this. By 1930 millions were aware of it. But the British ruling class obviously could not admit to themselves that their usefulness was at an end. Had they done that they would have had to abdicate. For it was not possible for them to turn themselves into mere bandits, like the American millionaires, consciously clinging to unjust privileges and beating down opposition by bribery and tear-gas bombs. After all, they belonged to a class with a certain tradition, they had been to public schools where the duty of dying for your country, if necessary, is laid down as the first and greatest of the Commandments. They had to feel themselves true patriots, even while they plundered their countrymen. Clearly there was only one escape for them – into stupidity. They could keep society in its existing shape only by being unable to grasp that any improvement was possible. Difficult though this was, they achieved it, largely by fixing their eyes on the past and refusing to notice the changes that were going on round them.”

Orwell, “England Your England”

Behind the Toilet Paper: Can You Spot the True Asshole?

In a February 25 New York Times piece titled “Mr. Whipple Left It Out: Soft Is Rough on Forests,” Leslie Kaufman reported that making toilet paper feel puffy and textured is now a major use of the Earth’s remaining old-growth forests.

Kaufman, of course, reports a corporate paper executive’s recitation of the industry’s standard public story of how and why this appalling waste happens:

Customers “demand soft and comfortable,” said James Malone, a spokesman for Georgia Pacific, the maker of Quilted Northern.

That, of course, is a howling lie.  The one and only reason for the advent of puffed-up toilet paper is the normal corporate capitalist sales imperative, not any kind of spontaneous clamoring from us ordinary ass-wipers.

Here is the real scoop, from a classic 1998 Wall Street Journal report titled “The Tricky Business of Rolling Out a New Toilet Paper,” by the excellent Tara Parker-Pope:

This [purportedly fancy toilet paper] is Kimberly-Clark’s biggest push ever in the $3.5 billion-a-year U.S. toiletpaper business, where it is a relative newcomer. Its original Kleenex toilet-tissue brand struggled after its introduction in 1990.  The company merged with Scott Paper, maker of the Scott and Cottonelle brands, in 1995 and created Kleenex Cottonelle, which helped Kimberly-Clark gain a 23% share of the market. But it trails rival Procter & Gamble’s Charmin, which has 30%. Among premium tissues, Kleenex Cottonelle still ranks a distant fourth behind Charmin, Fort James’s Northern and Georgia-Pacific’s Angel Soft.  Overall, bath-tissue sales are flat and premium brands are losing share to economy-priced tissue.

In other words, the real spur to all this environment-raping TeePee was stagnant corporate profits, not popular demand. Left to their own devices, people gravitate toward “economy-priced tissue.”

This, of course, meant that people simply could not be left to their own devices, them and nature be damned.

Pope conveyed the outlines of the usual consequent marketing procedures, which have since yielded the true course of events:

Kimberly-Clark hosted focus groups to talk to consumers about toilet paper, and asked them to compare leading brands with the new Kleenex Cottonelle textured tissue. They discovered that even though tissue advertising doesn’t talk about how well a toilet paper wipes, that is what customers are thinking about.

In the meantime, the company will launch a new, softer version of Kleenex Cottonelle in the rest of the U.S. Those more-traditional ads show a bubble drifting onto folds of toilet tissue. But the product package includes the “clean, fresh feeling” promise, in an effort to prime consumers for the eventual appearance of the textured tissue nationwide.

In similar fashion, the alleged proof of the alleged product benefit comes after, not before, claims about it are implanted into “the consumer”:

“If we have news that’s important for a consumer, then we can find a way to tastefully communicate it,” says Tom Falk, group president of Kimberly-Clark’s North American tissue, pulp and paper business.

The advertising solution is an anthropomorphic roll of toilet paper with a heavy British accent (the voice of London actress Louise Mercer from the old NBC sitcom “Dear John”). “I’m new Kleenex-Cottonelle toilet paper, and I understand you have a cleaning position available,” the tissue says. “I have a unique, rippled texture designed to leave you feeling clean and fresh. I’d love to show you what I can do.”

In another ad, the tissue brags that consumers prefer it to the leading brand. “Looks like all my bottom-line thinking is paying off,” the tissue says. For now, the ads will claim only that consumers say the new tissue leaves them feeling cleaner than other brands, but Kimberly-Clark is “working on a way to objectively measure cleaning better,” says Mr. Willetts. “There’s no method right now.”

Oh, there’s a method alright. George Orwell is spinning in his grave…

Big Business Marketing = Big Brother

Tivo, the increasingly popular programmable television recorder, has just launched Tivo Stop||Watch.  This is a new spying service that will allow its corporate subscribers to know in fine demographic detail exactly who is watching what shows and ads, on a second-by-second basis.  Tivo promises its corporate clients: “TiVo enables clients to track not only when a specific spot was viewed, but also whether variances in ad exposure can be correlated with changes in all kinds of consumption behavior….By observing variances in ratings based on these variables, it is possible to clearly determine how each influenced the effectiveness of the campaign and optimize the future return on similar investments.”

None of this, of course, is disclosed to the users of Tivo boxes.  That would spur avoidance and resistance, and is utterly forbidden.

Remember this completely logical and predictable and normal development the next time you hear the phrase “the free market.”  Cats everywhere are laughing their asses off.