May 7, 2010 Michael Bickerton
In order to understand what is happening to marketing at this early stage of The Google Age, we thought it best to examine the context. Said another way, context is what is at work in the background, informing our decisions. Indeed, if our context gives us our decisions and our decisions determine our actions, it would be good to understand the context in this situation.
As context is made up of many factors such as culture, experience and history, what has determined the decisions in business since the end of World War II? Even before 1945, mass media was shaping our world. What we knew and believed was heavily influenced by mass marketers and mass media owners. The technologies that we developed were, for the most part designed to reach more people at the same time. For those who grew up and entered the business world during this period, all we knew was “mass marketing”. Most of us just did not distinguish it that way. It just was the way it was.
It is believed that a fish has no distinction called water. It just is what the fish swims in. A fish can only get the distinction “water” if you take it out of the water. So let’s pull ourselves out of the business world for a moment and look at what might be at work. The only business context we could have had for years is “mass marketing”. Given that, we spent our time and brainpower developing smarter, more creative ways to HUNT for new customers. We used every new technology to get an edge over our competition, and more important, we used genuine creativity. But HUNTING was still HUNTING. Given our mass marketing context, that was all we could distinguish.
We would SPEND significant ad, promotion and sales dollars.
HUNT for customers everywhere.
HOPE we can then catch them at the right time and or HOPE they remember us when it comes time to buy.
We refer to it as the shhh model and the media owners were hoping to keep it very, very quiet. After all, it was the source of their wealth. We have to pay the gatekeeper if we want access to the eyeballs that the gatekeeper controls. It is just how it works. The media owner invests millions in developing properties that your target audience is interested in, so they can sell you advertising and sponsorship opportunities at significant premiums. The transaction must be based on a fair, consistent factor so we have come to buy media on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis. As marketers, we then had to separately weigh the quality of the audience (how targeted they were vs our ideal targets) as well as the CPM required to reach them. It is a subjective process that is extremely hard to measure.
Michael Bickerton, Raven5, March 2010