Man + Machine = The Reason To Read This Post
by Joe Mandese, Mar 5, 2013, 4:50 PM
One of the most important things I’ve learned in the time we’ve been publishing RTM Daily is there is no such thing as “real-time.” The reality is that time is relative, and quite often, asynchronous depending on who -- or as the case may be -- what is applying it. The who, of course, is people. The what, increasingly, is machines. And the more machines speed up the way in which people process time, the nuttier we humans seem to get. That’s one of the reasons I was happy to see Varick Media Management has published “Man + Machine,” a white paper that doesn’t take a typically adversarial view of the subject, but examines how people can utilize super-fast machine algorithms to do something some humans spend a lot of time trying to figure out: how to make advertising work harder and more efficiently.
The paper, which was authored by Varick’s Keith Gooberman (see Adage.com pick-up below), Eva Johnson and Jona Mici -- people who understand how to work with both machines and other people -- is part of Varick’s mission to demystify some of the mumbo-jumbo, salesspeak, adtech talk, and Big Data fear-mongering that does ultimately adds to the confusion and misdirection surrounding advertising, media and marketing technology.
I got to see this first-hand during a series of meetings with the Varick team, including several interviews with Gooberman and his boss, Varick President Paul Rostkowski. It was all part of my own mission to utilize trade publishing -- including this publication -- to demystify, and humanize, what I believe is the most exciting and fastest-moving parts of our business. The problem is I’m still operating on human time, not machine time, and I guess it took me longer to understand Varick’s story than I anticipated. So Ad Age’s Kate Kaye beat me to the punch with a nice Q&A with Gooberman that shows how he thinks, if not exactly how he works. I’m still hoping to publish something that shows the latter -- as soon as I can figure it out. But hey, I’m only human.
Meanwhile, check out Varick’s “Man + Machine,” because it does a pretty good job of explaining where they’re coming from, and especially why the future of Madison Avenue isn’t just black boxes, though any agency -- and trading desk -- worth its salt, will surely master those too. If there’s one thing I have learned from Varick, it’s that it’s not the machines, but how people use them, that makes the real difference.
“It is difficult for machines to intellectualize poor campaign performance and its causes -- to understand the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how,’” the Varick team writes. “Humans can explain campaign strategy in clear English terms.”