While Tibetan monks increasingly light themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule, I wandered down to New York's Zuccotti Park to see what the protesters who are not even thinking about self-immolation are so pissed about (other than a vague notion that big banks and Wall Street screw-ups have contributed to the shitty economy -- and, well, something needs to be done!). It was kind of like Woodstock. Without the mud. Without the bands. Without the lake. Without the traffic. Considerably less acid, but about the same number of peace signs. Lots more electronics. About the same number of guys just there to get high and laid (not necessarily in that order). And nearly 24/7 media coverage.
One of the challenges of understanding the collective malaise is finding a consensus about what the problems are -- and, more scarcely, how to fix them. Nevertheless, I did capture a few of the complaints as I cut into the free food line.
"I just can't sleep thinking about the arbitrage at work in the whole ad exchange, DSP, SSP ecosystem," said someone dressed like Janis Joplin. "I can't help but feel that clients are not getting the best price with so many intermediaries taking a piece of the action, however small. Then there is channel conflict, price erosion, and advertiser quality to fret over."
"Not to mention impression quality, which is supposed to be an algorithmic prediction of how likely the user is to take the action desired by that buyer on that impression, relative to all other impressions, but doesn’t always produce the forecasted action," chimed in a homeless guy who says he dropped out of high school 25 years ago.
"This is a great country, but I swear to God, I don't understand who would sell or buy impressions that are mostly on long-tail sites, below the fold, or deep in the frequency curve. Have we really fallen this far?" added a recent college grad who can't find work in her chosen field: fashion.
“I have just one question,” said a war veteran sporting that cred-establishing far-beyond-the-horizon look in his eyes. "If I were to give you an impression and all its associated characteristics, could you tell me the predicted user action rate (and hence the impression quality), as well as the correct buyer value, market value, and relative value? I think we all know the answer to that one, man."
Overhearing that, a nice kid from Brooklyn chimed in: "Can you really believe a study that found a 24% lift in intent to recommend a product after consumers had been exposed to online display advertising about it? And this supposedly was still true, even when consumers didn't click on the ad? They must think we were born yesterday!!"
"Really, how stupid do the 1 percenters think we are, trying to tell us that smart algorithms can control contextual relevance at the page level, including attributes such as channel, content, and sentiment?" added that girl who doesn't even know who Janis Joplin was, but dresses like her. "Are we just supposed to stand here while people say, 'When the logistics of the campaign are automated, marketing professionals can spend more time on the strategy and creative ideas that lead to rich brand experiences,' without even challenging it or asking for some sort of proof?"
I must say it was invigorating to see the youth of America focused on the critical issues that will shape our world in the coming decade or so. Before I left, I dropped $5 in the contribution jar and wished the occupiers the very best of luck. High-fives all around.