The Mother of All Productivity Sinks is about to roll over the world landscape (and I’m not referring to the Victoria’s Secret catalog).
The 2014 World Cup.
Honesty is a rare thing in the ad industry, but in a break from tradition, I won’t pretend — even for the clients reading this — that I’m going to miss key World Cup games to work on their now-meaningless, soccer-free projects.
In fact, unless an email features a client wearing jersey from one of the 32 participating nations, it’s unlikely I’ll even acknowledge the contact.
What will I learn from this groundbreaking admission? Probably that honesty is overrated.
Online ad clickthrough rates are so low — and conversions are apparently so bad — that it’s possible for scammers to make millions populating an ad network entirely with scambots.
Most of the advertisers didn’t even know until the trade press broke the story:
Some of the globe’s most recognizable brands — including Oreo, GlaxoSmithKline, Burger King and Sprint — were bilked out of millions of dollars by a Florida company that used fake websites to skim from the ad-tech ecosystem.
Then, the scam’s operators simply disappeared.
Perpetrators of online ad fraud are usually portrayed as running sophisticated, high-tech operations. But this scam is notable for its simplicity. The fact that some of the biggest names in ad tech were unable to detect it draws the industry’s fraud-fighting capabilities into question.
Think about it. An ad network that couldn’t produce anything beyond scambot clicks collected millions and ran for months.
If we’re truly in the era of Big Data, how come nobody knew the online ads aren’t working? Or is the online ad bar now set so low, nobody would know?
Apple’s looking for the “creative edge” in marketing that has apparently eluded their product people, so they’re building an in-house ad agency.
To the immense (trust me) dissatisfaction of their agencies, Apple’s using their in-house folks to compete with their outside agencies:
Amid criticisms that it has failed to innovate, Apple is increasingly taking marketing into its own hands. It’s madly building an internal agency that it’s telling recruits will eventually number 1,000 — the size of Grey Advertising. It’s pitting TBWA/MAL against this internal agency with “jump balls” to mine the best creative ideas, a controversial tactic with outside agencies, let alone an internal one.
My take? Apple’s flailing.
And for creatives hot for an Apple job, keep this in mind: During the roller-coaster crashes of the pre-iPhone years, Apple became famous among valley creatives for shooting the marketing staff first.
Keep writing (except when Holland plays Spain), Tom Chandler.
Simms manufactures top-notch fly fishing gear, but their copywriter (Simms, you did hire a pro, right?) stumbled badly in a recent ad for wading boots.
I blink repeatedly when confronted by a paralyzing word like “proprioception” in ad copy, especially when a quick check confirms the word’s being misused.
(Uhh, the boot is powered by something Wikipedia says is “the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement“?)
Amusingly, the subhead under the offending copy block asks the question “Need Professional Help?”
Well, somebody does.
Keep writing (using words that don’t stop your readers cold), Tom Chandler.
It’s been scientifically proven* that most of what we write is shit, though I didn’t know until now the AMA had formally recognized the condition.
Here’s an excerpt from a serious, peer-reviewed science article by TV writer Andy Bobrow (Malcolm in the Middle, Community, etc), which — if you want to put an end to the pestilence that is SWS — you’ll read right now.
Please, think of the children.
This is something I have never talked about publicly. Five years ago, shortly after my beautiful daughter’s third birthday, I was diagnosed with advanced SWS — Shit Writing Syndrome.
I’ll assume you’ve never heard of it. I hadn’t. Webster’s Dictionary defines Shit Writing Syndrome as “a disorder that turns one’s writing to shit, for example, by causing one to quote this dictionary when describing the disorder.”
The mechanics of the disease are still not well understood. Some experts believe that fecal matter leaks out of your colon and travels through your lymphatic system into your writing. Others think it’s figurative. But those distinctions matter little when you are looking at a page of your own writing and seeing shit.
They found it by accident. I had gone to the doctor for a routine penile enlargement procedure. I had filled out the standard Writers Guild insurance forms, and that’s where it turned up. When my doctor walked into the room, she had a hard time making eye contact.
“We won’t be enlarging your penis today,” she started, haltingly.
Ordinarily, she spoke with such clinical reserve. But this was different, personal. “When we looked at your paperwork, something seemed off. I took the liberty of sending it to a lab,” she continued. “Andy… your writing… it’s almost a hundred percent shit.”
You can read the rest of this gripping story about the scourge of SWS here.
Keep writing shit, Tom Chandler.
(*Not scientifically proven)
I clapped my tiny, overworked copywriter hands together in delight after reading that uber fantasy writer George RR Martin writes on a DOS-only computer that’s not connected to the Internet — using 1980s-vintage Wordstar 4.0 software (yes, it’s a slow day).
“I actually have two computers: I have the computer that I browse the Internet with that I get my email on, that I do my taxes on,” he said, trailing off. “And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine not connected to the Internet.”
The program he uses to churn out thousands of pages of prose is WordStar 4.0, an ultra-minimal word processing application from the ’80s. Unlike some of today’s intentionally bare-bones writing applications, it is minimal due to technological constraints, not by design.
I’m willing to admit (to all three readers) I have devoted precious brainpower to the idea of building a basic writing computer — one equipped with only a command line interface and a disco-era text editor like Emacs.
It would lack the ability access the bright, shiny cat toy that is the Internet. Connectivity would be provided courtesy a basic, human-transported flash drive.
Simple. Clean. No distractions.
In fact, with a longer writing project on the horizon, last week found me almost starting work converting an older desktop PC.
In the end — like the Washington press corps — I enjoy distraction. And because I’m writing copy instead of novels or screenplays, I’m often online while writing. I tell myself it’s research.
Still, instead of searching for the Ultimate Word Processor, maybe writers should focus on creating viable time travel.
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.
For 28 years I've worked as a copywriter. I'm also the father of two little girls. Despite these things, I retain a youthful appearance and remain mostly sane.
I may be a copywriter, but the Underground reflects my interest in writing and other writers. If you're looking for useful SEO advice, you're probably in the wrong place.