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…

Triumph of the Shill

At right, you see photos of a pair of historical sisters. At top is Leni Riefenstahl, maker of history’s most infamous propaganda film. Below Ms. Reifenstahl is Rebecca Van Dyck, overseer of one of history’s most recent propaganda films. Though Van Dyck would undoubtedly feel outraged at the observation, the fact is that she performs exactly the same work as Reifenstahl: Making emotional advertisements for extremely dangerous ruling organizations and classes.

Van Dyck’s new product is the 90-second “emotional spot” she produced on behalf of our friends at Facebook, in her capacity there as VP of “consumer marketing.”

Van Dyck’s dishonesty about the nature of her employer and the motives of her film-making are as breath-taking as it gets.

Regarding Facebook, here’s her explanation to Ad Age:

The film, titled “Things That Connect,” opens with a series of artful, emotional vignettes of people sitting and interacting on chairs — before moving on to other objects and events through which folks come together, such as a doorbell, airplanes, bridges or a basketball game. The point being, that all these things exist, perhaps, to remind us that we’re not alone.

“What we’re trying to articulate is that we as humans exist to connect, and we at Facebook to facilitate and enable that process,” explained Van Dyck.

So, which do you believe, dear TCT faithful? The claim that Facebook is a charity doing social work on behalf of its users, or its founder and CEO’s statement that “Our business is advertising”? Van Dyck thinks you’re too uninformed and stupid to make the call. (She also relies on the fact that the contrast will remain concealed from her film’s target audience.)

The timing of Van Dyck’s psy-op is certainly no accident, either, as it exactly overlaps Facebook’s just-announced (to its real end-users) further removal of restrictions on marketer access to its unprecedented demographic and behavioral databases.

For those who need to look at the car crash, here you go:

It Only Gets Worse

eye spy Remember when Google was supposedly all about cutting-edge math and decent places to work?

Take a look at the website Adweek.  Without signing in, try to read one of their stories.  Pick any one.  It won’t matter.

What you get after clicking a headline there is undoubtedly a sign of what’s clearly next in the evolution of the commercially-run internet — compulsory data disclosure.

Clicking any AdWeek story now lands you on a page where you get an opening sentence or two, then must choose between answering a marketing question or “liking” the story page on a so-called social marketing platform.

The culprit here is Google, which is now pushing its “Google Consumer Surveys” onto “content providers.”

Why am I being asked this question?

The website you are visiting is using a survey, powered by Google, to enable access to its paid content. Answering a quick question here gives you immediate access to the content you want without having to pull out your wallet or sign in. These surveys contain questions written and provided by survey creators that want to conduct market research. The website you’re visiting earns money from the surveys that appear. This service makes market research fast, accurate, and affordable, helps to fund great web content and enables you easily and quickly get access to it.

Your answer is anonymous and is aggregated with all other anonymous answers to the question. It’s not connected with any information about you, and is not used to develop a profile or to deliver ads. Once the survey is complete, an aggregated report is provided to the survey creator about the specific question it asked. Like ads on the web, some surveys may be delivered to you based on the interests and inferred demographics associated with your browser. You can click here to review or edit these, or to opt-out.

This new level of coercion is both an obvious affront to the fading dream of an open, democratic internet and a new source of revenue and targeting knowledge for both Google and the most money-oriented websites.

TCT urges everybody to take all possible steps to combat this ridiculous maneuver. Opt out, give wrong answers, use ad blockers, boycott sites that adopt GCS, and, most importantly, advocate creation of a public, not-for-profit internet that leaves the Facebook and Google pirates, as well as the overclass manipulators for whom they whore, in the dust.