Finding A Cure For Newsitis

An exchange last week with my significant other summed up a lot of what I'm hearing right now about the fast and furious developments in the interactive industry.

"I'm so over MySpace," said Cara.

I asked in return, "If you're so over MySpace, what are you into?"

"I don't know," she said. "It's just easier being over something."

Can you tell why I'm crazy about her? She then fell asleep, and I scrounged for a pen and paper. What Cara experienced is one symptom of a pervasive syndrome that is on the verge of becoming a pandemic.

The syndrome isn't yet well documented in medical journals. It was once noted in an Austrian paper as Schmidt, Semel und Gates Krankheit, but it was never submitted, as the author later confessed he was "so over" his own research. For this American publication, we can refer to the disorder as New Economy Warp Speed Is Too Intense Syndrome, or NEWSITIS.

Some of the symptoms of Newsitis include:

  • Spending hours setting up elaborate folders in Outlook for all of your newsletters, just so you feel better when you never read them.



  • Lashing out with fits of jealous rage every time someone sends you a Web site connected to a Crispin, Porter + Bogusky campaign.

  • Changing your LinkedIn profile header to "Leave me the *@$& alone."

  • Counting sheep to help you sleep, then staying up all night wondering what the sheep-to-dream conversion rate is.

    The syndrome is reflected over the course of so many daily conversations. People tell me, "I have so much information coming into my inbox [or, now, RSS reader], and I don't have time to read any of it." Or someone will share a great new marketing idea, one that can reach 0.001% of a marketer's target audience (with the pitch always going, "but this is the right 0.001%!"). Or, there's the line a former colleague used to utter every so often: "Dude, maybe for my next job I'll be a farmer."

    Much of this stems from the "keeping up with the Joneses" effect of marketing. Most marketers aren't radically shifting their budgets or changing their marketing plans from one year to the next. Yet over the course of the year, Marketer A doubles its paid search budget, Marketer B launches a buzz-grabbing consumer-generated media campaign, and Marketer C brilliantly integrates search with TV for a major promotion. Taken all together, it seems like marketers A through Z (with the alphabet repeated a few thousand times over) are all doing all of those things, and that every marketer will have to do all of them just to stay even.

    Of course, it's all a fallacy of perception, yet it leads to sleepless nights, frayed nerves, and reckless decisions. If Newsitis keeps spreading, marketers everywhere will get up, sit up, go to their windows, open them, and yell, "I'm overloaded as hell, and I'm so over targeting, accountability, and consumer control."

    It doesn't have to reach that boiling point. Agencies, search engine marketing firms, search engines, and others have a crucial role to play, saying to every Marketer A they work with, "Marketer B (a competitor) just reallocated its budget this way, Marketer Q (a market leader in a related vertical) is trying this innovative integrated campaign with both branding and direct response goals, and you don't have to worry about anyone else. We'll keep you apprised of what really matters."

    It's easy to understand why marketers would say they're "so over" much of the hype. Cara's right--it is far easier being over something. Let's keep reminding them why they were so into it to begin with. Develop a cure for Newsitis, and you're well on your way to a long, loving, and profitable relationship.

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