In recent years – advertising and marketing services or communications services people in particular-– seem to have lost sight of what we do for a living. Most of us seem endlessly engaged with trying to be "all things for all people". We have in effect created our own lexicon to confuse ourselves, our clients and the consumer in the process.
Isn't it ultimately ironic that here in the US-- the oft heralded home of all things simple--that marketers (and our clients) have very calmly accepted, very calmly acquiesced to entire modes of thinking that actually undermine coherency. It is really quite sad. It as if--and I mean to give a very polite nod to the french philosopher I will reference in a moment-- that we have not only lost the ability to see the forest for the trees, but the trees themselves have become obscured so badly in the process that we are not sure if we are looking at trees, nor what trees are anymore.
Think about the hyper-connected world we live for a moment and the unique challenges of doing business in it. There are more than just layers to cut through, first of all, and since language often proves to be a vexation and not a sharp tool for doing so-we must strive for something effective amidst the veritable roar of white noised complexity. The second issue is that the entire notion of marketing is now wrapped up in things not normally associated with it--like data management, mobile technology, semiotics, anthropology, design...I could list another fifty other things that have somehow crept into the marketer's domain--but the fact is that both clients and I dare say-marketers themselves, have lost sight of what our jobs is in the marketplace.
I believe the primary responsibility of a marketer is coherency. It is critical that we strive to respond correctly to most significant recent general trends in client behavior, and the demands of the hyper-connected world we now live in. Personally speaking, I am concerned with only four things: emerging markets, emerging media, "big data" and last, but not least “horizontality”. The last two are not verbiage, essentially I am saying we need to get everything we can out of the analytics and insights we are swimming in.
We marketers need to actually solve for coherency, we need to think about enhancing awareness and not dulling it.
The sheer volume of information we contend with on a daily basis--economics, mass-media, politics and education-- comprises a whole separate universe--a "consumerverse" composed of solely appetites, thoughts, movements and spectacle. When neuroscientists record the brainwaves of a person passively surfing the internet they note that after about half an hour, the brain decides that nothing is actually happening, and it goes into what is known as a hypnoidal twilight state. In other words about your 1/2 of your brain goes into sleep mode.Consider next that these are passive "users" according to the 1% Rule:
- 90% of users are “lurkers” – read, consume and observe
- 9% of users intermittently produce content, engage in comment or discussion
- 1% of users create content.
So, what is this amorphous, mind-dulling mass of mediated reality that people are half-sleeping in?
Such would be the successive phases of the image: It is the reflection of a profound reality; It masks and denatures a profound reality; It masks the absence of a profound reality; It has no relation to any reality whatsoever;It is its own pure simulacrum.
I'm not the first person to observe and comment on the nature of mediated reality. That's Jacques Baudrilliard right there--the inheritor of Mcluhan's dialectic on all things obtuse. This quote and the point I'd like to make with it require the reader to make a bit of an intellectual leap. (Just letting you know).
Those who create and fill the "consumerverse" we live in are not stupid. That would be me, and people like me. I would submit to you that "we" are indeed more powerful then you might imagine and are using vast amounts of technology to propagate the reality we "experience" because by very simple and brief extension--we are really talking about who is programming, building and engineering the prototypes for the world we are going to live in for the foreseeable future.
Social theorists and technologists alike talk about the coming emergence of a super intelligence and the "internet of things". That global network, once alluded to by the Yankee Group in Boston as a behaviorally adaptive, personally curative and literally--uninterruptible network is not long off. We ought to consider more seriously how coherently we plan to market it, and navigate it.
If you think about the incessant buzz of your refrigerator for a moment, consider the faint din and omnipresent hum of the internet of things. It might be louder than you think.