Bigger (and Bigger) Brother

big_brother We TCTers are aware that, having long since replaced price competition as the main vehicle of business competition, the practice of behavioral engineering known as “marketing” grows larger, more sophisticated, and more expensive over time, with almost no pauses. In the TCT book, I called this process “the marketing race.” In this post, we review some of the latest evidence of its existence.

First, Ad Age reports the results of its survey of marketing practitioners regarding their firms’ usage of the newest marketing frontier, the internet. The results are as predictable as the rotation of Earth:

Last June, in the weeks following Facebook’s botched IPO, Ad Age and CITI surveyed marketers about their views on the social network. The big takeaway? While the majority (85%) felt they needed to be on Facebook, only about half felt they needed to be advertising there.

Fast-forward to January 2013: We asked a new crop of 701 marketers and media execs their views. You’d expect sentiment to have risen a little, and it has: More marketers on Facebook say they’re also advertising — 61%, compared with 55% seven months earlier. We also found a slightly higher percentage that said their Facebook ad budget would “modestly” or “significantly” increase, 58%, compared with 56% in our earlier survey.

As you might expect, Facebook’s mobile ads are on the minds of marketers: 69% now say mobile advertising on Facebook is “somewhat” or “very” important compared with 63% seven months ago.

79 percent of those marketers who’ve used them report being satisfied with their ROI from deployment of Facebook’s newest product, “Sponsored Stories.” To see how those work, take a gander at these eager beavers rhapsodizing them:

In a one-time concession for this maneuver, Facebook just settled a class-action lawsuit against it, btw. The financial cost? 0.4% of its 2012 revenue.

Finally, Google reads your Gmails in order to scrape marketing data, and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than dropping Gmail (on the very questionable assumption other “hosts” aren’t or won’t soon be doing exactly the same thing).

Market totalitarianism — it only grows…

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Marla Singer
Marla Singer
7 years ago

pfft – Facebook links? So low tech – try ‘personal surveillance camera’! A recent counterpunch essay on the implications of the “google glasses” – the web-connected eyeglasses for augmented reality, that also conveniently could trace what you do every single second:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/22/big-brother-wears-google-glass/

As with most things, while this has a wonderful potential in the abstract, for a long while it will be just pure evil.

Marla Singer
Marla Singer
7 years ago

I watched the video a few times – I think it’s fascinating. I don’t know if people like this really exist, but the the very fact that the image of apparently well fed, well educated people with vaguely helpful and concerned expressions being “excited” about the ability of western white people to tell their friends they like Starbucks or something can exist is plenty surreal. Such a waste of life for everyone involved (the well paid cubicle drones included)

Marla Singer
Marla Singer
7 years ago

Actually, I take that back – i know that people like that exist, the doubt is simply wishful thinking: a few weeks back I was at a party, w/ a couple where both spouses were working for the marketing research department of a local grocery chain. They were *very* proud of their ability to successfully profile neighborhoods on very specific dimensions (far beoynd SES) and influence the minutia of sales. While I can certainly understand and appreciate the satisfaction of a job well done, even when the job is evil, I still wanted to punch the husband in the face… Read more »

Martin
Martin
7 years ago

Md is perfectly correct – how can these Ivy League officer training mills justify their alleged elitism when scrufulous pedigreed jackasses like “Engineer Phil” issue such robotronic lies?
What does corporate tool husband mean “your purchases are influenced by far more factors than you realize?” I “realize” the factors that go into my purchasing, and, with DVRs and my ability to ignore, I’m not being controlled by Madison Ave, but I’m an outlier, who cares about my low-level purchasing?

High Arka
7 years ago

DVRs, ignoring, etc. will only last so long. This one will rant more about it elsewhere and later, but for now, the next layer is found inside the content itself. The openly-avowed “commercials” you see in this time period are an example of planned obsolescence. As noxious and obvious as they are to increasing numbers of people, they’re meant to be discovered and slain.

The increasingly plot- and character-based commercials, and decreasingly plot- and character-based programs, will continue down their respective graphs until they become one and the same. It’s already begun to happen.

nercules
nercules
7 years ago

With reality tv and sponsored stories we are witnessing a seamless grafting together of meaningless content and lifeless form.

Marla Singer
Marla Singer
7 years ago

Martin, here’s one of the few examples he ‘kindly’ offered me: – in neighborhoods with more educated customers (controlling for income), the way in which the fresh vegetables are showcased can dramatically affect sales – e.g. the exact same batch of lettuce will sell out much faster, if you lay it out so that it looks more like a farmer’s veggie stand, sprinkled with water and all, not too squished – relative to if you just organize it efficiently so it takes less space – which is what they’d do in a poor and less educated neighborhood, where people are… Read more »

Martin
Martin
7 years ago

Yeah, Marla, that’s brilliant reporting – I understand that my assigning purchasing “free will” to myself while denying it to others is a form of illusion, but I was very disheartened to read of one quote last week in the NY Times neoliberal review – “Illusions, perhaps, are the only reality.”
Guess who said that TCT-worthy koan? McCluhan? Chomsky? Foucalt?
Nope. Benito Mussolini. He’s probably working at Facebook right now.

Mark Lovas
7 years ago

Hmmm, I seem to be very out of things. What annoys me about grocery stores in the USA (at least El Paso, where I lived from 2009-2012, and at least in my parents’ neighborhood) was that most of the time, fruit and vegetables—-no matter how wet—was not fresh. But, then, maybe I lived in a low wage neighborhood, and El Paso, Texas is a non-prosperous community overall…. However, that’s not what I wanted to say. Here in the Czech Republic–where I happen live today—- there are spies in every grocery store and bookstore. Yes, I know they are not called… Read more »

Mark Lovas
7 years ago

If someone says your purchases are influenced by factors you don’t know about—-factors which implicitly he controls (and you don’t), let’s be clear: He is being an arrogant jerk. However, what he is not telling you is that the research he relies upon also routinely says that people’s decisions are different if they have time to think about what they are doing. And, the real issue is as much how and why we are put into situations where our reasoning powers are overloaded–not that we deliberately choose that option but that we’ve got a variety of institutions designed to overload… Read more »

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