Commentary

Media X: Anti-Social Networking

This week's reality check comes courtesy of the ex-wife, who would not have a personal life if it weren't for dating sites and social networks. Currently, she's all agog over meetup.com, where she's found like-minded individuals to join on hikes, book clubs and strange incursions into the bowels of Los Angeles for God knows what.

I am inevitably drawn into her online adventures because the former Mrs. Feuer and I have remained close. And so:

a) The boyfriends she finds online are like the villains in a graphic novel; there's always melodrama, and I must give counsel. (Why she would seek advice about men from a man she divorced is a mystery to me.) b) After eight surreal years of marriage and a blissful 17 years of divorce, she still doesn't understand why I'd rather endure a bris than click on J-date. c) She wants to share, usually because she needs something. (I got an emergency call for directions on Saturday night because she made the wrong turn on Hollywood Boulevard and couldn't find the Pantages Theater. During the LSU game on ESPN, for God's sake.)

Ergo, meetup.com. Giant fires engulf Southern California like the seventh circle of hell, and all she wants to talk about is her new, most-favorite social-networking site.

And since she still can't differentiate between someone who writes about advertising and someone who writes ads, the ex warns me forcefully that she never, ever wants to see advertising on there. And it's a multigenerational consensus, because this week, I asked the new young Webhead in the office if he's OK with ads on the sites he visits. (In his case, maybe "lurks" is a better word.) He started sputtering all over my office table.

We still regularly hear about research that shows Americans don't want ads on their mobile phones, free content be damned.

The new media is no place to advertise, kids. Find someplace else to leave a message --not the supermarket, we talked about that. Because you're doing what you always do -- get all hot and bothered about an opportunity, while dismissing the data which shows that consumers don't want to hear from you via that particular opportunity.

Next will come the specialized boutiques, the dollar allocations carved out of the TV budget, the bizarre new titles, the agency re-arranging and much frenzied chasing. Actually, they're already here -- with the usual lame results.

Snap out of it. Fire your neuromarketers, quit screwing around with cognitive psychology, stop babbling about Millennial's media habits. Instead of spending mountains of money buying up social-networking sites, use the cash to hire Julie Roehm.

You still won't sell anything. You'll still get called into the CEO's suite for a tongue-lashing, but the publicity will be outstanding.

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