Our industry needs more Curmudgeons…

…not egotists, gurus, and blowhards — we have plenty of those.

Maybe curmudgeon is the wrong descriptor (I think old person that whines all the time). Perhaps “Skeptic” is the appropriate word to describe two people that are worth time time investment. I follow these two industry veterans because they both do a fantastic job of poking the aforementioned self-promoting “gurus” with sharp sticks of logic.

Andrew Smith is not really a “skeptic” as much as he a “realist” when it comes to separating the facts from the hype in digital media. Andrew ( http://www.escherman.com and @andismit ) presented “Using analytics to drive more effective social, PR and advertising campaigns” to our members at our recent meeting in Barcelona. It was eye-opening. Andrew did a stellar job of separating key numbers away from the nonsense in analyzing digital metrics. 90 minutes filled with valuable perspective and practical tools to align data with common sense.

His post on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140508164127-143109-is-social-media-and-digital-advertising-drowning-in-a-sea-of-fakery ) will give you an excellent overview of his perspective of what is happening in the data analysis part of our industry. It is just small part of his on-going efforts to bring some reality to the process of seeing value to the digital marketplace.

His post starts with two significant statistics:

61.5% of web traffic is not human.

I’ve seen both these industry statics in other articles. Scary numbers, indeed. Especially when so many rely heavily on inflated datapoints to sell their success, and therefore convincing the industry to buy solutions based on un-reality. A huge waste of media budgets. If you are looking for ways to make better sense of what works, and where to spend your time and budgets, I recommend including Andrew’s thinking as part of your education.
The other person that keeps me appropriately skeptical is Bob Hoffman (@AdContrarian). He pushes back on so much of the hyped data we are bombarded with every day in the digital space . He is considered by some to be a curmudgeon, but his self-described “Contrarian” label is a much better fit. In fact, and it is in the title of his poplar blog (http://adcontrarian.blogspot.com ) and best-selling book ( 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising
Bob’s work is part industry satire, and part rant in his unique perspective of the over-reaching declarations presented throughout the our industry. He enjoys calling out the supposed expert by comparing their “profound statements” with the facts. To me, his mission is to get us all to not believe everything we hear and read, until we verify.  Agree with him, or not,  but he is very entertaining.
Here are my two recommendations for you.
2.  If you can find another 40+ minutes, I highly recommend you watch the embedded video of a recent presentation by Bob Hoffman:  Bob Hoffman – The Golden Age of Bullshit – Advertising Week Europe 2014 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyTn_DgfcFE)
Both of these will instill a healthy dose of skepticism in all the data flying around our industry about the successes of digital marketing. We all need to be aware of the balance between hype and reality in evaluating the power of all these fabulous tools for connecting people for the sake of selling something. There are some fantastic tools and resources available to all of us. We just need to be better at understanding what really works, versus what doesn’t deliver as promised.
There is value in Andrew Smith’s insights and read Bob Hoffman’s rants. Both of them help keep the gurus and blowhards from taking over our profession.
– Peter Gerritsen