Advertising Age for March 30 includes a story titled “Brands Just Can’t Seem to Quit Facebook.”
Facebook exists to collect marketing data, to perform for corporations what people with cameras and stopwatches do inside corporate workspaces.
According to this report, at most 5 of Facebook’s top 1,000 advertisers even might have ceased using the platform as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Most likely, none have.
“This speaks to how important Facebook is as an advertising channel, and that brands are surely making the decision that the benefits of the platform outweigh the smaller risks of brand damage due to association with it,” [marketing research firm CEO Gabe] Gottlieb says.
As Gottlieb knows, the institutional fact is that the spying done by Facebook and an ever-expanding portion of the rest of the infrastructure for off-the-job life is every bit as vital to corporate capitalists as is detailed knowledge of paid labor processes. Barring a huge popular uprising against them and their system, the powers-that-be are simply never going to desist from gathering such data. Power concedes nothing, and scrambles to cover its trail when important concessions threaten to get discussed. Hence, this phony little mea culpa melodrama.
As reported by none other than Michael Wolff, Mark Zuckerberg long ago admitted that, when all the cover stories are dropped, Facebook is a corporate marketing tool.
“Our business is advertising,” said Mark Zuckerberg who, although he was the penultimate speaker at the eG8 conference in a stultifying hot hall, managed to fill the room.
“This trend of people being empowered to share things that they want will be the trend for the next five or ten years. . . .” Zuckerberg probably means to share what they want to share. But it may just mean to share desires in general—impulses, hankerings, things. “If you think about advertising, what’s going to be more effective than any advertising you show is something your friend says they like,” says Zuckerberg.
As TCT has always contended, totalitarian spying is part and parcel of corporate capitalism, which literally requires its constant expansion and refinement.
Not that this kind of boilerplate-but-unmentionable social fact ever quite sinks in. Even the reporter of the above survey of what Facebook does on behalf of its other corporate clients concludes that we “did it ourselves.”
Not surprisingly, it turns out that “smart home” stuff is just another advance in the techniques of big business marketing/corporate capitalist totalitarianism.
Gizmodo has a fascinating report on this topic. In it, a journalist and a computer whiz figured out how to spy on the “smart home” spies. By building a special router, the computer whiz arranged to port to himself a copy of the outgoing behavioral data sent from the journalist’s “smart home” back to the journalist’s ISP (and associated big business data harvesters). Here is what the computer whiz found:
I had the same view of Kashmir’s house that her Internet Service Provider (ISP) has. After Congress voted last year to allow ISPs to spy on and sell their customers’ internet usage data, we were all warned that the ISPs could now sell our browsing activity, or records of what we do on our computers and smartphones. But in fact, they have access to more than that. If you have any smart devices in your home—a TV that connects to the internet, an Echo, a Withings scale—your ISP can see and sell information about that activity too. With my “iotea” router I was seeing what information about Kashmir and her family that Comcast, her ISP, could monitor and sell.
There was a lot to see. Since the router was set up at the beginning of December, there hasn’t been a single hour of complete silence from it, even when there was no one in the house.
Of course, given how we have allowed our media ecology to be devoured by corporate entities and interests, the masses are never going to get adequate, coherent information about this mind-blowing Orwellianism and its obvious connection to TPTB in our flailing, catastrophe-courting society and world. Nonetheless, have a read, TCT folks. It’s what’s happening, behind the curtain.
“It’s pretty scary,” Scott Hagedorn tells Advertising Age.
Who is Hagedorn, and of what is he afraid?
“We are not reaching young audiences effectively,” says this CEO of Hearts & Science, the marketing agency that describes its work for “the world’s biggest brands” thus:
Our clients shift from brands that push content out to brands that pull people in. We’re creating new relationships between brands and people like never before.
The crisis to which Hagedorn refers is the fact that:
a growing audience of people who aren’t tracked — and therefore can’t be targeted or measured — with traditional tools and platforms. They consume media on mobile devices and OTT. They’re “cord cutters” and “cord nevers.” And they represent tremendous buying power for brands. The stakes are high—47% of Millennials and Gen X appear “unreachable” within standard planning tools, and 66% of their media consumption isn’t tracked, either.
And if it can’t be measured, it can’t be properly targeted or planned against as part of a cohesive, cross-platform campaign.
“Planned against.” Write that down, TCT readers.
Meanwhile, not to worry, overclass. Answers, as always, are being perfected by heroes like Hagedorn. Thanks to the emerging standard practice of “integrating code to measure in-app content and ad consumption…on literally every [video-watching] platform, device and client app,” the crude surveillance methods of the past are on their way out.
The days of yore wherein the [Nielsen] panel served as the proxy for an audience — setting behavior, reach, and cost estimates — fall out of the picture. Google and Facebook , along with telecom “pipes” like AT&T and Verizon , and retailers like Amazon, have massive install bases that are logged in across screens, making identity-based marketing not only feasible, but the most accurate solution to capture these new consumer behaviors.
We’ll no longer need the panel as proxy for an audience, as we’ll have a deterministic view of the people in the audience. Identity-based marketing becomes the solution that holds consumer identity as the currency against which we measure, plan and buy media across devices and platforms.
As many of these platforms own the consumer experience from end to end – not just identifying their audience at a granular level, but also creating the content being consumed – it’s only a matter of time until these identity-based currencies and identity-based experiences become the marketer’s art. [WSJ, 9/22/2017]
Apple has touched off a pretty major row in the halls of marketing. Apparently, the next version of its Safari browser will restrict the creation and retention of “cookies,” which are little computer codes that allow big businesses to collect increasingly rich data, without acknowledgement or permission, on internet users. Why Apple is expressing this glint of conscience is an interesting question. Far more interesting and important, though, is what the now-brewing fight confirms about the nature of big business marketing.
If you doubt that, take a look at the big advertising trade groups’ “Open Letter” to Apple. Here’s the operative paragraph:
Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economy, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumers by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.
Let’s translate this passage from marketing-speak into truth, shall we?:
Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handedindependent approach is bad forreflective of consumer* choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers lovetolerate. Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and usefulit harder for corporations to harvest the data they need to keep manipulating people’s “free time” experiences. Put simply, Apple’s proposed machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choicemarketers’ existing dictates; they represent browser-manufacturer choiceinternet users’ clear, strongly-held preferences and best interests. As organizations devoted to innovation and growth in the consumer economymicro-managing off-the-job behavior on behalf of the corporate overclass, we will actively oppose any actions like this by companies that harm consumerscorporate investors by distorting the digital advertising ecosystem and undermining its operations.
According to ProPublica, Facebook now provides its clients (read: corporate marketers) with the capacity to target 55,235 different interest groups, on which FB also collects heaps of outside reconnaissance via so-called data brokers. Per ProPublica: