Turn the machines back on

 Monkey typing

When I read this post on Robin’s blog, I had to check it wasn’t April 1 and time for more ‘Google buys France’ and ‘Apple’s going to make a mobile phone’ stories (oh hang on a second, one of those was true). So, courtesy of the New York Times, here is Publicis Group’s strategy:

The plan is to build a global digital ad network that uses offshore labour to create thousands of versions of ads. Then, using data about consumers and computer algorithms, the network will decide which advertising message to show at which moment to every person who turns on a computer, cellphone or eventually – a television.

Of course, it’s possible that NYT has mangled the story but there are elements that even an accomplished satirist couldn’t make up. It seems Digitas – Publicis’ primary digital group (the new name in the UK for Modem Media, amongst other glitterati) – has bought a Chinese ad-building (production) company which is now called ‘Digitas Greater China’ (honestly, I’m not joking, look at the article!).

The vision is a different ad per customer, per view, targeted by stage in the purchase cycle. Well that’s bound to work isn’t it, just look at the success of Direct Marketing. And of course, we’re going to need almost infinite production capacity to get that done:

Digitas executives say that consumers end up with a better experience — even a service — if the ads they are shown are relevant and new.

Isn’t it fascinating to watch the whole industry mourning it’s quiet death with such public frustration. If some poor Chinese labour is earning $2 a week to make that banner I’m looking at, it’s bound to be great. 

First of all – what customers want isn’t better advertising, they want better marketing, including price, place, promotion and – of course – product. Advertising is a function of marketing and for years the most fun part but it is not what it is about. Second of all, since when were display ads the only type of online adveritising? At best, the popularity of the banner, rectangle, skyscraper etc can be put down to advertisers desire for something like TV and print that they can buy, certainly not because consumers want them. Third of all, isn’t better advertising better advertising,  rather than varied advertising being better advertising? And, fourth of all, what will we do when we need to advertise to the people that work in the Chinese advertising sweat shops?

Of course, some may think that Google has already produced and delivered a better strategy with adWords but no, that’s just a tip of the iceberg. Chairman and chief executive Maurice Lévy, is way ahead of the brothers Brin:

Mr. Lévy, who has a penchant for grand ambitions, says he does not plan to compete with Google — rather, he wants Google to need Publicis.

In other news. The Oxford University Press is going to see if they can produce the entire works of Shakespeare using an infinite number of monkeys. (Funnily enough someone did try this).

 UPDATE: a really interesting post on the need to invent the online (and online video) ad models.

1 thought on “Turn the machines back on”

  1. […] The idea behind the Smart Ads, is using the total knowledge of the user’s behavior (including for example, their last search or which of  the Yahoo! sites they have visited and with what frequency), to influence which ads are then shown. Smart ads allow those ads to be configured on the fly to include a relevant offers or promotions. The constituent parts, presumably are to be made up in Digitas’ Greater China Sweatshop (as we saw with Publicis’ digital strategy): […]

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