Posts Tagged ‘database’

Look in the paper any day of the week and you’re bound to see another story about how enormous mega-nationals are plundering the most arcane and private bits of my personal data in order to produce marketing that is so tailored, so ingenious, so insidious that I am helpless in the face of it. Marketing that allows their agencies to craft advertising messages that are so highly tuned to the particular peculiarities of my personality that I am forced – on some primordial, pre-evolutionary, subconscious level – to buy whatever snake oil, motor car or dessert topping they happen to be selling.

To which I say, “I wish.”

Look, I’m in advertising. So was my father, and his father before him. And I’m here to tell you that I would love to have that kind of information at my fingertips. It would make my job so much easier. Something concrete and substantial. “We’re talking to these people. And they live here, and they eat this and their day looks like this and these are the things they believe, wear, think, feel, buy, blah, blah blah. Now, go make some brilliant advertising that uses all this information to trip their subconscious wires so we can sell a ton of stuff!”

The advertising wouldn’t even have to be “brilliant”. With information like that, it could be fairly mediocre and it would still be wildly successful. How could it not?

But you know what most of us creatives get? “Our consumer is women, age 18-54, average household income, average education. Some have families. Some don’t. And there’s no particular geographic skew – they’re pretty much every where. Now, go make some advertising I can sell to our client.”

Think about that for a second. Women 18 to 54. Now there’s a unified group. Not a lot of changes go on in a woman’s life between those years that might possibly impact the way she feels about a product. Or even whether she needs it or not.

Now, I’m not denying that all that information is, indeed, floating around out there in the info-ether. And I’m certainly not suggesting that you shouldn’t take every precaution to make sure it doesn’t wind up in the hands of identity thieves and other nefarious hackers.

But I am saying that I can count on one hand the number of Fortune 500 companies who are actually making any meaningful use of it in their marketing. Maybe less. Yeah, less than one hand.

I know this because I’ve tried to get them to use it, and they are, by and large incapable of it.

Do you know how many Fortune 500 companies have basements filled with entry forms or servers filled with email addresses that are just crying out to be used and aren’t? I mean, if you actually filled out one of those forms it’s reasonable to assume you have some kind of relationship with the company. Or that you want one. So you wouldn’t be averse to receiving some kind of communication back. Something that included you in the brand family, right? Something that said, hey, thanks for being interested in us. We’re interested in you. Simple right? When was the last time you got something like that? See what I mean?

Seems obvious, so why aren’t they doing it? Mostly because they’re too busy thinking about tomorrow. Tomorrow’s deadline. Tomorrow’s sales numbers. Tomorrow’s media placement. American business is so overloaded right now with the now that they can barely use the tools they’ve used in the past, let alone use these tools of the future.

So does this mean you’re safe? Of course not. There are dangerous folks out there trying to steal your identity so they can empty out your bank account and leave you destitute.

They’re just not going to try to sell you anything while they’re doing it.


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