Automatrix

Sarah Mandato As “content marketing” devours the talent and space that once was journalism, its architects include the likes of Sarah Mandato (what a name for an overclass mind-molder!), “director of content solutions at Nativo, a native advertising company.” As shown at Advertising Age, here is how our dear pixie-bot thinks and talks, as she labors to get her victims to “consume” her tricks on her clients’ sites, as “brand content served within publisher editorial streams, matched to the look and feel of each publication”:

How can brands ensure they’re optimizing content?

Optimization opportunities are similar to having a focus group providing real-time feedback about what does and doesn’t appeal to readers. With today’s robust ad tech ecosystem, marketers have expanded tools to apply A/B tests and optimizations on campaigns. It’s no different with content — marketers can test their branded content’s various components, such as headlines and images. By not taking advantage of this, brands are turning down the chance to listen to consumers and gain actionable insights around messaging that best resonates with users.

Yes, “listen to.” That’s “listen to” in the mode of BB and Winston Smith, of course.

Lovely stuff, isn’t it?

The Face of Metastasis

Shane Snow Meet Shane Snow, the founder of Contently, which pimps writers out to corporate capitalists like American Express, Coke, GE, Google, Walmart, and General Motors. The service sold is “content marketing,” meaning fake journalism designed to sell more corporate products and otherwise advance the aims of big business marketing campaigns.

Ad Age reports that such efforts are a major boom industry. The various overclass flagships “are expected to spend nearly $2 billion on sponsored content in 2014.”

Mr. Snow does his pimping by “licensing software to brands to help them manage content-marketing projects and connecting these companies with freelance writers, for which it takes a 15% fee.”

As actual journalism dies via strangulation and systemic neglect, here’s how the action looks at Contently:

There is a range of writers and prices from which brands can choose. There are, for instance, best-selling authors and Pulitzer Prize nominees, youngsters fresh out of journalism school and a number of others who work for major publications but freelance on the side. Contently’s stable includes about 50,000 writers, according to Mr. Snow.

“It’s like a supermarket for writers,” said Tomas Kellner, managing editor at GE Reports, GE’s content-marketing site. “People like me, who need to scale up their operations, can get access to writers for a specific project.”

Market totalitarianism.

Judy Woodruff

Judy+Woodruff+2011+Winter+TCA+Tour+Day+5+dtRss3Tk5vdl What a personage. TCT happened to see her show tonight during her usual phony “concerned” bipartisan posing. While asking some goon about the continuing death of journalism, she asked “How will this affect consumers of news?”

Consumers of news.” Nuff (or Ruff) said. Stay tuned for Antiques Road Show, voiceover provided by “intellectual” actor Paul Giamatti.

A Needle from the Haystack

Guess what. There is one actual journalist working in the United States! Who’d have thunk it?

Logically and probably necessarily, he is based in the epicenter of imperial decline, Detroit, Michigan.

In any event, check it out, and compare this with what passes for reporting in every other outlet, where brains, real questions, and major non-elite topics are banned:

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…

The Bonfire of the Literacies

American political leaders, being deeply indoctrinated actual or aspiring millionaires/billionaires, have long equated capitalism and democracy. In reality, capitalism places very strong limits on democracy. Basic economic policy, the allocation of government spending, transportation policy, global governance, serious restriction of wealth and income polarization (income floors and salary caps for everybody!) — all these things and more are very emphatically “off the table” in capitalist democracy, simply and consistently verboten to voting.

Yet that’s only half the story. Consider, meanwhile, what the normal operation of the system does to the very roots of egalitarian self-governance.

Read moreThe Bonfire of the Literacies