Joseph L. Flatley wrote an in depth article on the greasy business of Internet Marketing:
The term Internet Marketing in this context describes both a particular business model used to sell fraudulent products and services online, and the community or subculture that embraces it. It operates out in the open — with poorly designed websites, tacky infomercials, and outrageous claims designed to scare off the wary and draw in the curious, desperate, and naive. The Internet Marketer positions himself as a marketing “guru” with a product or coaching services guaranteed to generate income.
I’m familiar with this stuff from my brief stint in search engine optimization (SEO), and from a couple friends who went down that particular rabbit hole. But I never realized how deep that rabbit hole goes. Flatley writes:
PushTraffic was what is known as a boiler room. As Dan Thies, an SEO professional and former employee of an Internet Marketing company called StomperNet, explains, Internet Marketers often “sell super-cheap products so they can get the names and phone numbers, and turn people over” to boiler room companies who try to sell the unsuspecting consumer fraudulent goods.
If you’ve seen Glengarry Glen Ross, you’re familiar with the boiler room MO: pressure a lead into spending a heck of a lot of money on something worthless.
In your last three books, you’ve developed this world where marketing is treated like espionage. There are agents and double agents and intrigue upon intrigue, but it will be in the service of something like a new denim line. Is this approach intended to be satire? Or is it closer to the truth as you see it?
If something really is satire, I don’t enjoy it. It can’t be satire and be that good. What I like is something that’s closer to a useful, anthropological description that has a really, really sharp satirical edge. Satire, traditionally in our culture, pushes the exaggeration past where the edge really hurts, and you sort of just goof on it. But other cultures, like the British, totally get it. Where you want to be with satire is right on the razor’s edge, where it really hurts and you can’t tell whether you’re being put on or not.
One of the easiest illustrations of the differences between their satire and ours would be the two versions of The Office. The British Office had a genuine humanity to it. It could be totally moving. The American take on it is far more buffoonish, and the attempts at humanity in it are maudlin.
Yeah, absolutely. The original Office is heartbreaking, it’s totally heartbreaking. And it’s not that we can’t do it, but that sort of work doesn’t have the prominent foregrounding in American culture that it does in British culture. And it’s something that can often scare Americans the first time they discover it.
Maybe it’s that most people prefer to know what they’re getting beforehand. They don’t like to feel confused about genre or intent.
I think that I am kind of functionally incapable of staying absolutely true to genre or form. Sometimes I feel sorry for somebody in the Atlanta airport who’s just bought one of my books when what they really want is Ludlum or Clancy. They get on the plane to the other side of the world and all they’ve got to read is this screwy shit about designer blue jeans.
Does permanent job loss mean that someone is no longer a consumer? In some cases the answer is yes: some people continue to spend as if they still had a job, and the inevitable result is eventual destitution. Once they run out of unemployment benefits, savings and credit, their purchasing ability decreases to the barest minimum provided by food stamps. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this makes them rather uninteresting from a new product marketing perspective.
But other people may be quick to shed their biggest categories of expense, walking away from their mortgage and their car loan, allowing their medical insurance to lapse, and developing a new lifestyle that is well within their new budgetary constraints. They may couch-surf, take advantage of house-sitting opportunities or rent a spot at a campground by the season. For the cold part of the year, they may head south and, again, camp out. They may look for seasonal employment, do odd jobs for cash, or use their skills to repair or make and sell items for cash.
With their largest expenses gone, their disposable income may actually be higher. However, their needs and requirements are quite different, and since most product offerings target the settled, fully employed consumer, they are in some ways under-served. This is an area where new product development opportunities abound, and companies that gain a share of this growing market segment and build brand loyalty among this fast-growing consumer underclass will lock in a decade or more of profits and rapid growth. As a marketing strategy, it is not just recession-proof but actually recession-enhanced.
In a lawsuit filed Sept. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Amber Duick claims she had difficulty eating, sleeping and going to work during March and April of last year after she received e-mails for five days from a fictitious man called Sebastian Bowler, from England, who said he was on the run from the law, knew her and where she lived, and was coming to her home to hide from the police. [...]
It turns out the prank was actually part of a marketing effort executed by the Los Angeles division of global marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which created the campaign to promote the Toyota Matrix, a new model launched in 2008. [...]
Her attorney, Nick Tepper, said the Matrix campaign was similar to “Punk’d” a former MTV show starring Ashton Kutcher that featured celebrities being set up by their friends for elaborate pranks. Toyota’s marketers used the Internet to find people who wanted to set up friends to be “punked,” and Duick was set up by a friend of hers, he said.
Apparently it has something to do with this:
Saatchi & Saatchi’s lawyers are claiming she “opted-in” to the campaign with written consent. Her lawyer claims that “written consent” consisted agreeing to the fine print of an online personality test she took.
These two quotes are by Edward Bernays, from Stuart Ewen’s PR!: a Political History of Spin
“[The term public relations] hasn’t only been misused, but people have used the name for press agents, flacks, publicity men or women, individuals who simply try to get pieces into the paper that are favorable to a client. Whereas, by my definition, a public relations person, who calls themselves [sic] that, is an applied social scientist who advises a client or employer on the social attitudes and actions to take to win the support of the publics upon whom his or her its viability depends.” (11)
“The job of a public relations counsel is to instruct a client how to take actions that ‘just interrupt… the continuity of life in some way to bring about the [media] response.” (14)
1. every Tweet has to be approved by legal.
2. you plan to use Twitter like a giant RSS feed,
3. you think using Twitter is a social media strategy
4. you think it’s a good idea to have someone tweet as if they are the president of the company.
5. you are not going to respond when people direct tweets at you.
6. you think paying for followers might be a good idea
7. you think all that matters on Twitter is getting a lot of people to follow you
8. you want to protect your updates.
9. you plan to track Twitter with Google Analytics
10. You think you can market to people with whom you have no relationship
A new study from Northwestern University offers precise electrophysiological evidence that such decisions may sometimes not be guesswork after all.
The research utilizes the latest brain-reading technology to point to the surprising accuracy of memories that can’t be consciously accessed.
During a special recognition test, guesses turned out to be as accurate or more accurate than when study participants thought they consciously remembered.
“We may actually know more than we think we know in everyday situations, too,” said Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern. “Unconscious memory may come into play, for example, in recognizing the face of a perpetrator of a crime or the correct answer on a test. Or the choice from a horde of consumer products may be driven by memories that are quite alive on an unconscious level.”
The study links lucky guesses to valid memories and suggests that people need to be more receptive to multiple types of knowledge, Paller said.
In the wake of the mercury in high fructose corn syrup making rounds this week, Johnny Brainwash has some info about the flacks trying to defend the good name of the corn refinement industry, as well as illuminating information about how they operate.
Increasingly, small cameras are being embedded in video screens in malls, health clubs, and grocery stores both to determine who is watching and to customize what is displayed to the audience.
Small cameras can now be embedded in the screen or hidden around it, tracking who looks at the screen and for how long. The makers of the tracking systems say the software can determine the viewer’s gender, approximate age range and, in some cases, ethnicity — and can change the ads accordingly.
That could mean razor ads for men, cosmetics ads for women and video-game ads for teens.
And even if the ads don’t shift based on which people are watching, the technology’s ability to determine the viewers’ demographics is golden for advertisers who want to know how effectively they’re reaching their target audience.
While the technology remains in limited use for now, advertising industry analysts say it is finally beginning to live up to its promise. The manufacturers say their systems can accurately determine gender 85 to 90 percent of the time, while accuracy for the other measures continues to be refined.
The full article can be found here, but I was most interested by the links at the bottom of the article showing the players in this area:
I have three emotional principles in all my work. One is wonder, another is sympathy, and the third is critique. These are virtues of different disciplines that are generally not combined. Wonder we think of as a traditional scientific discipline or motive. It’s great to wonder at the grandeur and glory of the universe, the childlike wonder, the Stephen Jay Gould wonder, the Einsteinian wonder.
But there’s also the traditional historical virtue of sympathy, which is to realize that the world we live in really is kind of a moment in time when we have the entire history of the universe behind us that we can explore as well. And when it comes to human interpretation, it’s important to see the past the way the people saw it. So I’ve written two books on Nazi medicine, and the goal there was not just to condemn them, but to see how in the world they came up with those ideas and those movements and how they justified them to themselves. So we see them as full humans and not just scarecrows, so we can actually understand the depth of the depravity or whatever. But at least we see it honestly, and that’s a traditional historical virtue.
The third principle is critique, which is to realize that we’re humans first. If we’re cosmologists or historians, we’re at least humans first and then cosmologists and historians. We need to critique and show that there’s a lot of garbage out there, and we don’t want to be apologists for some horrific status quo where people are dying by the millions. And so we don’t just want to see things through other people’s eyes and we don’t want to just wonder at the glory of nature. We want to realize that there’s horrific suffering in the world and that we, as humans and as scholars, have a duty to do something about it.