Marketing BS Briefing: Zig instead of Zag Edition
This is the time of year for end of year reviews and 2022 predictions. They also say you should zig when others zag. So this will NOT be an end of year review. (Bonus: Here is a collection of all the major end of year reviews in one place). This week is just another run-of-the-mill briefing. I am on vacation this week and next, so I may skip the first week of January as well, or I might not. It will be a surprise for all of us. Onto the briefing!
Porn Arbitrage: In October 2019 I wrote about how Tumblr used pornography to grow their business, and explored how other small companies could leverage it in a way that large companies could not. The NY Post has a piece on how a math teaher was using pornhub to reach more students.
Cameo: Here is my post on Cameo and the disruption of celebrity endorsements. Now Thomas the Tank Engine has an account on Cameo. Why not? Every brand mascot should have a channel now. The question is why Disney is not all over this? Get the official Mickey Mouse of Elsa to call your kid on their birthday…
Net Neutrality: Four years ago the FCC repealed net neutrality. At the time doomsayers told us that this would be the end of the internet. CNN said it would end of the internet as we know it. NBC said it would ruin everything you like about the internet. Senate Democrats put out a tweet claiming the internet load speeds would drop to a crawl (“one-word-at-a-time”). “Digital serfdom was coming”. Apple, Google and Facebook claimed that net neutrality regulations were “essential”. Anyway, it is clear by now that the doom did not happen. Here is a thread collecting some of the “concerns” at the time. Maybe worth thinking about other doomsday scenarios that might not be?
Changing Behavior: Marketing is all about changing behavior, and pop-culture suggests that the power of marketers is scary. Anyone who has been a marketer knows that it is much harder than it looks. This study in Nature had 30 different scientists create 54 different “four-week intervention programs” with the goal of getting participants to increase their exercising. A separate team of judges tried to predict which programs would be most successful. Only four of the the 54 programs had ANY effect after the 4-week window, and the judges were no better than random at predicting which programs would work. I expect the entire thing is noise. Marketing is good for raising awareness, but the idea that it can change people’s behavior is mostly a myth.
Logo Evolution: This twitter account shares images of company logos and how they have changed over time. Twitter example:
Marketing to Employees
Facebook: In spite of all the recent attacks on the company, they do not seem to be losing employees. Vanity Fair investigates why.
Business and Strategy
Amazon-cart: Amazon is going to compete head-on with Instacart.
De-bundling: There are only two ways to make money in business - bundling and de-bundling. Airlines have been debundling for years now (pay for meals, then bags, then…). Now hotels are starting to experiment as well with separate fees for pools, gyms, and early check-in.
12-foot ladder: If you append “https://12ft.io/” before a site with a paywall, this site will give you a “ladder” over the paywall. It does this by pulling the content the site is sharing with Google (so it does not always work, but most sites want their paywalled content crawled by Google, so it mostly works). As the rabbits get faster so to dot he foxes…
Office Privacy: An experiment in a phone factory showed that putting curtains around workers on a production line increased output by 10–15%. Related: Noise-cancelling headphones in an open-office reduced errors by 14%, but actual silence reduced errors by 33%. And good quality audio results in third parties judging you 19% smarter.
AI, GPT-3 and Machine Learning
Animation: Meta (formerly Facebook) has created a tool that animates drawing. I have seen this type of thing at a Disney attraction. Now it is available for anyone. Have your kids draw a picture, and then turn it into a cartoon.
Explain it like I am Five: If you ask GPT-3 to explain something to you it will - but it often gets it wrong. The team at OpenAI decided to focus on that particular problem (“Getting an answer from the AI). They trained GPT-3 to make searches on Google based on the questions someone asks, and then express the answer in the format of the best answers from the “Explain it like I am five” subreddit. It still does not perform as well as an intelligent, thoughtful human, but it is getting closer! Related: This google doc is collecting answers to many EILI5 questions about science.
Visual Effects: A 7-minute video explaining how the effects in Dune were very different than what you see in other effect-heavy blockbusters (like Marvel and DC movies). Recommended.
New World Order
Remote Chess: This study, shared by Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution showed that when chess players start competing remotely their performance (based on comparison to “perfect” AI-moves) drops, but the gap vs previous “in-person performance” decreases over time “suggesting an adaptation to the new remote setting”.
Sexy Professors: The higher a field’s GRE scores, the lower their scores on “rate my professor”. Hypothesis: If you need to be really smart to be in a field, it selects for IQ. If you don’t, then once you are “smart enough” it selects for other things - like attractiveness.
Jim Mattis: “If you haven't read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren't broad enough to sustain you.”
Beethoven: A very cool visual/auditory demonstration of a Beethoven symphony. For those of us that do not have a background in music theory it really shows just how amazing Beethoven was.
Be Thankful: Some under-rated reasons why you should be.
Keep it simple,