Mojo Still Trumps Metrics
It sometimes feels like we are living in a jargon jungle. Since the whole concept of a thing called "advertising technology" barely existed in the 20th Century, it is only natural new terminology had to be developed.
When desktop publishing came into existence during the 1980's, the terminology drew from existing publishing terms. There may be some publishing people reading this who don't realize "cut and paste," for example, is derived from laying out our books by cutting type galleys with razor blades and pasting them on boards with hot wax. These original digital terms were created for our comfort and acceptance. (Yes, I know: "What are type galleys?")
Gotta admit it saddens me to see a new advertising glossary solidifying around antiseptic terms, accenting the science and minimizing the art. This promotes the attitude that publishers not bother capturing hearts and minds in order to deliver strong audience, but instead become sales-lead delivery boys.
The idea we should use "supply side" and "demand side" when discussing online advertising is something I resist. "Modeling" and "convergence of data sources" are fine things. But when I read about "throughput solutions" and "branded data transparency," it no longer sounds like we are discussing the publishing industry.
Those terms all refer to tactics whereas conquering your marketing challenges requires strategy. I remain convinced that strategic visions are what we publishers excel at serving, even if we do serve up some leads at the same time.
Someone once said analytics look at history; they do not look forward. Then there is the myth that marketers can turn on social media like a faucet and drink their fill of new buyers. Analytics and social media? Both outstanding tools, no doubt. But used without marketing mojo they become textbook examples of putting the cart before the horse.
A breath of fresh marketing air
Let's recognize that technology vendors are trying to get us to adopt their jargon. If we believe our efforts can be reduced to 1's and 0's, then those who control digital technology control us. Not 'body snatcher' control – control as in making technological decisions primary to editorial decisions.
Lately I've been reminded they don't have us yet. In dozens of recent conversations with marketers all I hear them espouse are proven marketing truths, not techno-babble. It feels like someone has been pumping oxygen into the room.
"Emotional response . . . educating the audience . . . listening to their needs . . . an engaging reader experience . . . executing ideas . . ." These are what real people still talk about. And my favorite: "The Wow Factor."
Now you're talking! This I understand. I have seen all these things work with my own two eyes. Use technology to accomplish them? Bet your sweet . . . But please, let's talk about buying or selling ads and not some damn supply chain as if we are serving Walmart.
I've yet to hear a living, breathing marketing professional talk the newspeak espoused by vendors. Let's try to have technologists use our language—after all these years, "cut and paste" seems to be holding up just fine.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.