Yes, voice. The things you say and how you say them. In the ongoing push to identify ever more accurate ways to classify consumers and exploit their needs and wants, the latest tool being designed to monitor us all is the use of AI and hardware to home in on your real-time emotional state. It’s the application of psychographic market segmentation to drill down to an audience of one, you or me, and do it “as we speak.”
How will this be done?
While the algorithm does the classification, it’s the hardware that will empower it.
You might wonder what kind of hardware. How about your phone? Or all those wonderful IOT devices in your home that lend so much convenience to your workaday self, freeing you up to spend more FOMO time on social media platforms, so you can but, buy, buy more and more and more.
Anything we use that is activated by voice can be heard by a machine you know nothing about that analyzes your tone, your inflection, your word choices, and builds an instantaneous profile ready to use psychological tricks of the trade to steer you in the marketer’s desired direction.
This article goes into the details and I highly recommend it.
David Ogilvy, the Advertising Hall of Fame member and eponymous founder of the agency that bears his name, Ogilvy & Mather, was an exponent of long copy in advertising. He wrote two outstanding books on advertising, Confessions of an Advertising Man, in 1963, and Ogilvy on Advertising in 1985. He was the creative genius whose work made Rolls Royce even more famous than it already was and turned Hathaway Shirts into an aspirational brand, among other accomplishments. In Confessions he famously said that the art director should be the creative lead because of the power of great imagery (a picture is worth at least 1,000 words, right?). But with on Advertising he changed his view, saying that the copywriter needed to lead because the copywriter is the one with the ability to fully articulate the message.
By the time he retired to his (quite modest, he said) chateau in France, advertising creatives seemed to have turned away from long copy to focus on striking imagery with short or even no copy at all. I recall one great two-page spread for Nikon cameras that had no copy at all, just the Nikon logo. And I thought then and still think now that it was a great ad.
I would argue that long copy or short, the ad needs to create a desire to engage. Ogilvy liked to say that for a prospect who was actually ready to buy in a particular category, say cars, the prospect could not get enough information. The more, the better. He created a full-page ad for Rolls with very long copy and a headline that said that at 60 miles per hour, the loudest thing you would hear on the inside of the car was the ticking of the clock in the dashboard. Even the headline was long!
Perhaps not all big tech is bad for art after all, or at least for musicians! This news has been posted in an article from the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know if you will be able to access the article from my blog site, since the WSJ has a pay wall. But since the Journal does allow their items to be shared via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, you can go to my page on any of those three for an accessible link to the story. I had recently posted a link to a story that was all about how big tech is ruining the art world. That may still be true in the visual arts but it seems that music, at least, has been given a reprieve by Apple.
“About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online,” is the headline for a Pew Research report about online usage released on March 26th. The article includes an eye-opening demographic breakdown for people being online according to age, gender, education, ethnicity, geographic location, and income.
Forty-eight percent of people in the 18 to 29 age cohort are online “almost constantly,” followed by those aged 30 to 49 at 42%. A mere 8% of those 65 or older are constant users.
College grads come in at 42%, while high school or less are at 23%.
These findings are eye-opening and no doubt useful for a variety of business-related pursuits, such as marketing strategies. After all, if you want to reach your target audience, it helps to know what media they use, so that you can maintain a presence there. Purveyors of senior-related products and services probably should not be looking to social media, while marketers of Gen Z goods and services certainly should!
That’s a question posed by William Deresiewicz in his book, The Death of the Artist. He recently contributed an excerpt from the book to MIT’s Technology Review. There’s a link below but if you are not a subscriber, you will not be able to read the whole piece. Deresiewicz makes a very good case that art may no longer be sustainable in a world that, thanks to the Internet and all its myriad platforms, now makes art available for free or for next to nothing.
Take music for example. We all recall the major problems that arose with totally unregulated and unmonitored file sharing. Musicians and song writers were making art that people wanted but they wanted it for free. Now, those same artists are getting royalties from Pandora and the like but for 95% or more of them, it’s nowhere near enough to provide an even halfway decent income.
And visual art? It’s everywhere. Artists are finding audiences but no money. Stock photography royalties are a joke. And everything from logos to illustrations is being expropriated without payment or even credit given to the creators.
Deresiewicz makes the point that art has been demonetized. Art is becoming unsustainable, especially for newcomers and those who are trying new ways of seeing and sounding. Extrapolating from his excerpt, it seems reasonable for me to say that art may be stagnating, leaving us with a situation where an ever-decreasing number of sources are being followed and so many artists are abandoning their muse.
And the question arises, what happens to culture as art fades away?
CreativeBloq has published a story this morning about tech-media mega-firm Apple claiming that itty bitty startup Pear has infringed on its logo! Really?
After praising Apple for its stance on privacy and user-control in my last post, I am now compelled to berate the company for its over-zealous pursuit of a claim that I see as utterly lacking any merit whatsoever. Does this logo look to you like it resembles Apple’s?
Had this gone to court, I don’t see how any jury relying on the “reasonable person” standard could claim this might confuse people and think they are seeing Apple. But of course, common sense and the legal field are hardly related to each other. And legal fees would probably have bankrupted the newcomer, so they made a small change that satisfied the Apple legal eagles:
I think Tim Cook should be ashamed. My estimation of the company was so high for decades, from the time I bought my first Mac SE right up to my prior post. But that warm and fuzzy feeling has dissipated. Apple is just another mega-maniacal corporate behemoth seeking to crush anything it considers to be in its way.
This is one media firm that is no longer top of mind for me.
You may have heard that Tim Cook has announced changes soon to come in how Apple’s systems will deal with privacy issues and that Facebook is pretty angry about it. Here’s a link to an interview by GQ magazine in which Cook talks about what he terms the “Data-Industrial Complex” (shades of President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning in the 1950s about the Military-Industrial Complex”) and why Apple is working to give people the power to opt in or opt out of being tracked. I say, score one for the good guys!
I just need to vent. If Microsoft is supposed to be a leader for high-tech apps, we are in deep trouble. Recently, my MS AutoUpdate told me I could not update my Office 365 apps unless I upgraded by subscription. So I dutifully clicked the link, paid by money, and got the upgrade. MS proceeded to update my apps EXCEPT FOR EXCEL! For some reason AutoUpdate still says I need to upgrade my Office subscription. See below.
I tried their online chat. Worthless. Endless chain of useless suggestions. I tried calling their 877 number and was informed they no longer offer phone support. I tried another online help on my iPhone. This looked better but there was no apparent way to SEND my message to the support person online. No helpful hints or buttons or anything. Microsoft is worse than worthless. It is psychologically harmful.
Please pardon my shameless borrowing of the name of one of the more interesting streaming TV shows for this headline but it just seemed so much the perfect headline for this post. The Hollywood Reporter has an excellent guest column article by Jeff Orlowski, the filmmaker behind Netflix’s The Social Dilemma.
Orlowski’s thesis is that we are all unwitting Trumans, each starring in our individual versions of The Truman Show, unaware of how social media algorithms are programming us for their profit-at-any-cost advertising platforms. He notes, “While we think these platforms are connecting us to the world, they’re actually separating us from reality.” He then goes on to include this bombshell:
“When Facebook’s former director of monetization, Tim Kendall, was asked in our film what he was most worried about, he replied, ‘civil war.’ At the time that seemed alarmist, but today it feels prescient.”
The ring of truth. Still more: “The experts and tech insiders we interviewed in the film warned us about the dire consequences of letting Big Social play God.”
Orlowski concludes his column thus: “Our social media puppeteers also have a choice [reform or continue doing what they are doing]. Will they complacently watch their creation destroy democracies, or will they take responsibility for fixing the hate-filled mess they’ve made?”
As a former student of Peter Drucker long before I came to study psychology, I would like to contribute the wisdom and prescience of probably Drucker’s greatest influencer, Joseph Schumpeter, from his Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. (3rd ed., 1950)
“…the typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again. His thinking becomes associative and affective. And this entails two further consequences of ominous significance.
“First, even if there were no political groups trying to influence him, the typical citizen would in political matters tend to yield to extra- rational or irrational prejudice and impulse….
“….Second, however, the weaker the logical element in the processes of the public mind and the more complete the absence of rational criticism and of the rationalizing influence of personal experience and responsibility, the greater are the opportunities for groups with an ax to grind. These groups may consist of professional politicians or of exponents of an economic interest or of idealists of one kind or another or of people simply interested in staging and managing political shows. The sociology of such groups is immaterial to the argument in hand. The only point that matters here is that, Human Nature in Politics being what it is, they are able to fashion and, within very wide limits, even to create the will of the people.” (pp. 264-265)
This comes from part 3 of the book, the section on democracy, wherein he dissects the construct of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” and “the common good.” He points out the fundamental flaws of these ideas and it is amazing to me that 70 years later his writing sounds like it was done yesterday.
I would suggest that a more heterodox, less inflamed consideration of current events is called for.