Uncommon Sense: FUCCEM

The problem with traditional advertising as intermediary model in electronic media both on and offline these days is that it simply, completely and entirely ignores what I call FUCCEM, the Five Uncontestable Conditions of Commercial Electronic Media, namely:

No one wants more ads.

Everyone wants more content.

No one and everyone are the same guys.

The ads aren’t there to support the content.

The content is there to support the ads.

From what I can gather, only yours truly and a mere handful of other marketers on the planet seem to embrace FUCCEM for now.  Everyone else seems to be engaged in various extraordinary efforts to optimize a patently failing model. Seems like the entire ad industry has gone stark raving mad.  The entire ad industry is suddenly engaged in finding new ways to optimize stupidity.

Let’s face it, folks: All optimization technologies are concessions to failures of the basic model.  No one would invest a dime in ad-tech if the model was still clocking at a 5% CTR instead of statistical zero.  Or if click fraud and adverse brand exposure weren’t rampant problems.  



Likewise, no one in advertising would traffic in anything as risky and impossibly complex as consumer data or social media if they could still find a way to earn an honest living by creating and delivering brand messages.

The truth is that the current advertising-as-intermediary model is failing in all meaningful ways for all the major stakeholders: advertisers, agencies, publishers and consumers.  Already far too complex and wholly unaccountable, the entire advertising industry is being optimized and acronymed to death.

Lest you think for a moment that my disdain for the current ad business is confined only to those actively engaged in advertising, please think otherwise. On the very front end, it’s time for the investment community -- the guys who fund this folly -- to re-examine their investment criteria and realize that real innovation and real sustainable differentiation in the advertising industry are not attainable through technology -- and never really were. At least if the past generation of failed optimization technologies is any indication.

Indeed, our obsessions with and fealties to digital technologies of scale in an industry that only works for all the reasons we can’t possibly explain have only driven performance downward through the floor and costs upward through the ceiling.  Contrary to popular industry mythology, the future of advertising resides less in better technology and more in better ideas.

There is no sustainable differentiation when everyone’s sustainable differentiation is attached to a different technology that optimizes a different .1% of 1%.  And when everyone is focused on applying all of their time, attention and technology on their own .1% of 1%, no one will be able to compete with a better idea -- most likely because no one will know it when they see it. And no one will see it because no one will take the time to look for it.

In a technology-saturated, tool-driven market the only sustainable differentiator is a better idea, not another technology.

The basic choices are clear.  Either we can continue to optimize stupidity or we can say FUCCEM.


3 comments about "Uncommon Sense: FUCCEM".
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  1. David Burdon from Simply Clicks, May 24, 2012 at 7:58 a.m.


    Great stuff. But ironically the industry seems to be obsessed by ever more transient and less engaging models that get further from the actual needs, wants requirements of the end consumer.

    Let's say search (organic or paid) is driven by an intent to review or satisfy an intrinsic need or want. We therefore get 3-5% click through rates and average website engagement of 3-6 pages and 2-5 minutes and conversions of 1-6% depending on effectiveness of the overall campaign chain. Instead of developing this model the butterflies in the industry are off evangelising about social media. Which delivers tiny CTR's, poor engagement and even poorer conversion.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, May 24, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.

    1. The more complicated, the smarter the ones designing and figuring out applications sound. 2. Professor Irwin Corey could have told you all about it. 3. To support within and without, the objective is to confuse and complicate and to fillet the populace.

  3. Henry Harteveldt from Atmosphere Research Group, May 24, 2012 at 11:10 a.m.

    It was worth waking up this morning just to read this.

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