'Twas the week before Christmas, when alone in my house
I was finishing shopping, with a click of the mouse;
Then I cleared out my browser cache, cookies deleted,
In hopes of nefarious snooping, defeated.
Yea, the whole ecosystem lay snug in their beds,
While visions of cookies alit in their heads;
But these weren't the cookies you baked, or you ate,
That you left out to cool, on a red and green plate.
No, these cookies told advertisers about you,
About all of the things that you wanted to do.
Did you buy electronics, a guitar from Fender?
Were you that most precious, an auto intender?
In what Zip did you live, And in what DMA,
And to whom were your eyeballs worth the most, today?
The consumer press had quite a panic created
Over issues of privacy wholly invaded
And now there was talk about some "Do Not Track"
Which the whole ecosystem feared would set us back.
Well, my head was a whirl with this "What They Know" chatter
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
So I reached for my smartphone, and issued a tweet,
And let Foursuare know too, since friends might like to meet.
Then I made my way down to the yard, in the snow,
Keeping Facebook appraised, as along I did go.
When, what to these cynical eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
The sputtering, cursing driver gave pause,
But I knew right away this was ol' Santa Claus.
So I asked him, "Good sir, on this crisp winter's night,
What has caused you such anguish? You do look a fright."
More rapid than eagles his answers they came,
And he heaved up, and listed each of them by name;
"Oh pixels, Oh DSPs, real-time bidding,
Oh persistent cookies, oy! Who are we kidding?
Aggregators, exchanges, oh optimization,
Analytics, ad servers, and verification!
Ad Ops, infrastructure, and technical specs --
And we wonder why people think this stuff's complex?"
He was on a roll now, and I stared at him, rapt
For I knew that the things he was saying were apt.
And the more that he spoke, well, the more he became
Rolly, jingly, and jolly, befitting his name.
"But what are we to do then?" I asked the great man
And he smiled at me, and said, "Josh, I've got a plan."
"Yes, I thought that you might," I said back to Saint Nick,
"But I've used up my word count, so spell it out quick."
Fleshy hand on my shoulder, we walked through the snow,
And he said, "Let me tell you the things that I know.
"When you're building a brand in the digital space,
It isn't a big algorithmic arms race.
It's still about people, like me, and like you
And telling them just what your product can do.
And for heaven's sake, son, when you're doing the telling,
It matters a lot if the telling's compelling.
(In fact," he confided," that's why it's called selling.")
"So impressions to cookies efficiently sent
May help some in the ecosystem make the rent
But the way to break through all that marketing chatter
Is to use the websites that your prospects think matter
And compelling telling on those websites' pages
With whom your best prospect most deeply engages."
It all sounded so simple, so logical too,
That I knew I just had to come share it with you.
So I turned and said "Thank you, and now I must go" --
But he'd vanished, and I stood there alone in the snow
Not a sign, not a footprint, not one broken twig,
Like he'd never been there, 'twas no Santa Claus gig.
But I tell you the truth of what happened that night
And I can't rightly say, was he wrong? Was he right?
That's for you to decide, in this season of cheer,
I'll just wish you the best, and a happy new year.