From 1984 to 2010: The Emergence of “Household-Level Addressability”

big_brother Regardless of the state of the wider human and ecological world, corporate capitalism pushes market totalitarianism ever farther up the asymptote.

Advertising Age is reporting that addressable television advertising, long coveted by corporate marketers, has reached the point of being “an emerging concept.”  2010, Ad Age says, is the year when TV addressability will move from small test runs to full implementation into the broadcast streams for millions of U.S. households.   “Next year is when you’ll start to see how addressability gets sucked into a more core marketing strategy,” said Visible World President Tara Walpert Levy to the long-running marketing journal.

So what is “addressable TV advertising” and why does it matter?  Ad Age explains the technique:

Two types of addressable technologies are available: zone addressability and household. Zone refers to a group of ZIP codes or neighborhoods that can often be bundled demographically, so a marketer can target a predominantly upper-income neighborhood or a predominantly Spanish-speaking area. Household addressability can target TV viewers based on specific data ranging from age to sex to current ownership of consumer goods.

In other words, big business marketers are about to gain the ability to send customized advertisements to specific geographic and demographic targets, down to the level of the individual household.

Thanks to cable television’s progressive replacement of old-fashioned ether-based broadcasting, corporate marketers have long been able to collect detailed viewing-behavior data from individual households.  Now, their customers (big business advertisers) will also be able to tailor the marketing communications going back into those households according to what they’ve learned from their prior analysis of not just viewing, but also shopping, demographic, psychographic, and financial data.  Corporate capacities for creating and measuring the effects of behavioral stimuli are poised, once again, to expand.

Will it actually work?  Will ad-addressability bring our already comprehensively commodified, commercialized, and deskilled personal lives into still tighter compliance with the dictates of the bottom line of the world’s private-jetting overclass?

Ad Age again:

Ad Age, Visible World and Cablevision’s poll found over 59% of respondents considered addressable advertising to be at least 50% more effective than a non-targeted campaign.

Cablevision’s Optimum Cable recently advertised its triple-play subscription packages in New York with household addressable ads that targeted customers based on current subscriptions. Households that subscribed only to wireless and phone packages received ads offering a package that included cable, while cable-only households were offered a package that included phone and high-speed data services. David Kline, president-Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., said the company saw a double-digit lift in subscriptions among the targeted households. In zone addressability, Cablevison’s recently launched Optimum Select allows viewers to interact with an ad to request information or request a product sample, “We’ve seen really phenomenal response from consumers in our first month,” Mr. Kline said. “We often run out of product.”

Though capitalism remains comparatively subtle and anarchic, the arrival of “household-level addressability” constitutes a real step beyond the telescreens of Orwell’s Big Brother.  Those could only look in on you.  Nobody in Oceania sat in front of their telescreen for fun.  Certainly, nobody was addicted to sitting in front of them.  People didn’t stand around the water cooler talking about what they saw on the telescreen last night.  Oceanians didn’t purchase giant, energy-sucking, room-dominating plasma telescreens and hook them up to telescreen recorders.

We “Americans,” the supposedly privileged residents of the allegedly history-ending, best-of-all-possible-worlds, do.  Meanwhile, our Earth-wrecking masters are laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank.

Our Pablum-buro: One Way Corporate Marketers Censor Media

Could any information or drama the Fortune 500 defines as “family friendly” possibly address our real needs at this point in human history?

Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they won’t force their between-ads filler on us.

Check it out.

Sympathy for the Scrooge

mcduck Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was recently described, rather accurately, by C. Montgomery Burns, proprietor of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, as “the story of a fine businessman who’s hounded into acting nice by three socialist ghosts.”

How fitting then, that the onset of the 2009 holidays brings us Scroogenomics, by economist Joel Waldfogel.

Waldfogel’s topic is the wastefulness of Christmas gift-giving in corporate capitalist America.

In its summary of Scroogenomics, Business Week reports:

Waldfogel says holiday spending is “a massive institution for value destruction.” That’s economist-speak for the fact that so many gifts—billions of dollars’ worth, he contends—match up so poorly with what recipients want or would have bought for themselves. Now, in a new book, Scroogenomics (Princeton University), he puts an updated figure on the waste arising from holiday giving. “U.S. givers spent $66 billion in 2007,” he writes, but the value of recipients’ satisfaction is much lower. Quantified, the satisfaction gap represents “an annual deadweight loss of $12 billion.” That’s approaching what the federal government dissipates yearly, he says, citing the $17.2 billion in misspending estimated by Citizens Against Government Waste.

“Value destruction,” of course, is exactly, precisely the true wonder of Christmas for our overclass of corporate shareholders.  As recent events have once again shown, their socio-economic order generates an unending problem of over-accumulation of wealth at the top.  In order to alleviate that systemic dilemma on investor-friendly terms, huge and increasing waste is absolutely required.  No Christmas-as-usual would mean even worse Depression.

Wittfogel, meanwhile, is not against gift-giving, properly done.  He merely points out that our annual Christmas waste-orgy is a mighty poor version of charity and love.  We get flattered — mostly by corporate marketers but also by our own hopes, vulnerabilities, and lack of institutional awareness — into thinking all the geegaws and rubbish we circulate are somehow on target, somehow a workable substitute for making the world a better place, somehow a deep lesson learned and applied.

Among its many terrible ironies is the fact that Corporate Capitalist Christmas leaves us not even doing as well as the post-haunting Scrooge.  He, you may recall, provided some true essentials, not Pet Rocks, to the Cratchits.

Big Business Marketing’s Simple Methods

Big business marketing was a trillion-dollar-a-year juggernaut by the early 1990s. It is almost certainly now a TWO-trillion-dollar-a-year juggernaut.

Big business marketing provides almost all the money for commercial television, which remains far and away the #1 shaper of people’s “free time,” mental databanks, and worldviews in the United States.

Contrary to academic jibber-jab about the complexity of “reading” advertisements, ,as a communications-maker, big business marketing operates almost exclusively via these 4 classic coercive behavior alteration tactics:

1. Lies (of both commission and omission)

2. Flattery

3. Threats

4. Brain-Conditioning (think Pavlov and his use of repetition and titillation to reform mental agendas)

Marketing is now so dominant, these tactics have come to govern not just the ads and promotions, but the actual TV shows, as well. These days, very few prime-time TV shows are NOT 100% intentional button-pushers, with underlying dramatic designs taken wholly from corporate marketers’ radically shriveled and demeaning approach to audiences.