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How The Economy Back During The Depression of 2009 Changed The World Part 8: Marketing

Posted on December 15, 2008. Filed under: advertising, Apple, consumer marketing, Mashable, RSS feed, Science Fiction, Second Life, Social Network, tv ad | Tags: , , , , , , , |

In my continuing series on the Depression of ’09, or Bush’s Collapse, as historians have come to call it, I will focus on how marketing and advertising was effected. In 2038 it’s hard to believe that only 30 years ago quotes such as “no one every got fired for doing television” and ideas like Mass Marketing weren’t ridiculed. One needs to remember that back then Social Media was used to differentiate a particular form of “online engagement”. Of course people still used the term Internet to qualify where they absorbed a particular piece of information. Most Gen A kids today are still confused by the fact that during the Gen X/Y days we received information from multiple devices with screens: one you could interact with, and one you just stared at. I won’t mention “radio” for fear of veering too off topic.

Leading up to Dep II folks used the Internet to gather data, purchase goods, and be entertained by music, vids and games. In most cases a company I’d individual would “post” media to a “web site” where users could read, click, watch, or download it. Users had very little choice on what they got, generally being given only a few options. Something was about to change all that though.

Just prior to the election of President Obama, the first of his 3 terms, several print publications (see references below for definitions) named the consumer as the Person of the Year and Marketer of the Year. The average citizen was beginning to take control of how goods and services were presented to them. Up to this point most manufacturers and service providers would build a generic product then hire marketers to create advertising campaigns to promote their product. The advertisements would, almost without exception, be focused on a wide demographic. Men: 18-45, teens: 12-22, were typical designations. Of course no one today would waste time on such a broad and incongruous grouping. Even now, at 79, I can remember being a teen, nine of us were very similar. There were jocks, studes, vocies, rich, poor, popular, geeks, etc. It still amazed me that anyone sold anything in such a broad way. It’s important to remember that back in the 20th Century and into the singles of the 21st Century, most people just accepted that they belonged to a demographic and accepted products and services as they were: Corporate America was in charge. Of course that is no longer the case: we get goods and services tailored personally to us, we brag about the cool advertising generated by our profile. Lime most of history, it is easy, in hindsight, to see the tipping point: The Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chinese Colonization of Mars, Secretary Michelle Obama’s Global Union Initiative, etc. Bush’s Collapse changed the relationship between consumers and corporations forever.

It is unfair that the Collapse be completely blamed on George Bush, it is so named primarily because the Iraqi Folly put such a financial burden on the country, at a point when a brief financial meltdown was imminent. It took several decades of corporate greed, governmental missteps, and an economy based on speculation and Wall Street, to cause the Collapse. The “Silly President” just happened to push it over the edge.

The hardship had many unexpected consequences including the collapse of the television, radio (much different than what we consider it today), music and oil industries. The collapse of the oil industry and it’s evolution into an international conservatorship has been widely discussed and irrelevant to this story. The Big Media collapse has direct bearing though.

Citizens attention was divided in their entertainment, communications and informational options then: between a television, telephone and radio or a computer. With meager incomes most had to choose between the two. History shows they chose computers. These bulky, desktop machines were far less elegant than our current solution, yet they offered information, communication, entertainment and productivity in one package. This primitive machine had been used to market to consumers in a 19th Century manner, with 20th Century technology. A few technology advances offered the ability for social networks to begin to crop up, all separate and distinct. Very quickly more niche networks emerged, focused on specific subjects, forms of communication, and psychographics. CGTalk, Twitter, and Ning are examples of each that I was immersed in. Very quickly the populace found they had replaced one fractured interface with another, as their attention was now divided between multiple separate “sites”.

Yet the seeds of control had been sewn. Many of these sites, oddly called “networks”, offered personalization features as well as the ability to be viewed on mobile devices. Soon a demand was met: the ability to bring all of their desired content together under a universal, personalized ID, that they could interact with on any device. Early mobile and computer companies began building customized devices receiving customized information. Soon behavioral targeting was giving users information they wanted before they asked for it. Advertisers couldn’t bridge the gap. Most companies were still selling generic products using mass marketing tactics. The people demanded better. They had the power to make demands. It was easier fir a mom & pop operation to deliver customized goods, promoting them with customized messaging, easier than large companies. Product and Services industries as well as their advertisers couldn’t compete on such a micro-level. This signaled the end of marketing as it had been for decades.

Early social media proponents recognized early on that talking to one was better than shouting at a million. Advertisers and companies, in their desperation finally began to listen. An entire generation of marketers and advertisers was displaced. Their seats were filled by social media evangelists managing hundreds of non-employee brand evangelists. These weren’t just mouthpieces, they weren’t even paid! They were brand fans. It was the pyramid management system. One SoMe evangelist would invite brand loyalists, even competitive brand loyalist to try products and report on them. These loyalists in turn were followed by thousands, who, in turn, influenced millions of others.

Many companies during this time abandoned the strategy when they received negative feedback. The smart ones began to see this as positive input. It wasn’t long before companies were creating custom products for their loyalists. It was expensive. This zoo drove the desire from all consumers to have personalized products. Advertisers soon got in the act, creating customized messaging. Consumers had long given up the idea of privacy or anonymity online. Their tracked behavior, purchase history, financial background, resume, even family info now fed shared databases from which technology evolved to serve advertising unique to every recipient.

It seems odd, in this day and age, that a single add would be the basis of an entire product campaign. Teens in college, sports fans in bars, even the few that still work in offices, share their commercials as a bag of identity, as unique as a fingerprint. Just today my grand kids and I were laughing over our implant OS updates from Apple. I’m still on 10.4.2!

Who knows how personalization will effect us in the future. If I have to spend 4 hours on an airship to visit my grandkids on the West Coast, I’d like a seat that knows I have a bad back!

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Michael Durwin in a Google

Posted on March 22, 2007. Filed under: blog, Boston, Eternal Gaze//Scope, Google, Matt Hanson, Michael Durwin, RSS feed, Second Life, Warcraft, |

Google search bar with Michael Durwin's name in it.

I’ve been a bit self-obsessed I do admit. Over the last year or two I’ve been searching for my name, Michael Durwin, on Google. I’ve spoken to several companies who have Googled me prior to business meetings. It’s been very interesting to note what they have found, online community comments, Amazon book reviews, old portoflios, etc. I can’t tell you how many people looking for information on Michael Durwin have found my old portfolios. Granted, all designers evolve, but the last thing a designer wants to hear is that someone saw their work from 4 years ago and be judged based on that!
Because Google is such a big part of just about everyone’s online experience, it’s important to be mindful of your online image. Many are talking about avatars in reference to 3D characters in Second Life, Warcraft, etc. I’d suggest that users create an avatar the second the begin building their online representation, usually with an email address. Web sites, blogs, email addresses, online community comments, etc. are all facets of our avatar.
That means that everything you say or do online becomes part of your avatar. Users who act like pricks in community forums, put up pictures of them with their drunk buddies on MySpace, videos of parties in YouTube, etc. should expect that anyone looking for information on them such as human resources, recruiters, fathers of girlfriends, the government, clients, press or anyone else wanting to know you better, is not going to have the best impression.
I believe that it is very important to manage your avatar or online personality. Not to say that any of us should censor what we discuss online, but we have to be prepared to accept the consequences.
I recently ran into an interesting situation. While searching for my name on Google, a new entry popped up on a web site called Eternal Gaze//Scope, which is apparently a blog from UK writer Matt Hanson (no, not one of the Hanson brothers of 90s pop fame). THe site is intended to be a blog but pulls reviews of motion graphics clips from a site called is an awesome motion graphics site. It is comprised of some of the most amazing motion artists I have ever seen. Users post their work for review by their peers. I have several pieces posted on and to be honest they pale in comparison to some of the other work there. That however, is the point. I’m posting to a site that, while I know it is accessed by the general public, is primarily used by other motion graphics artist. Those users feel free to be as harsh as they want in reviewing work, which is not always pleasant but it is constructive for the most part. My issue began when I found a couple of comments that, in the context of’s site are fine, but when taken out of context, shed a negative light on me personally.
As mentioned above, everyone should expect that any thing they say or do online is accessible to anyone. What is tough to take is when online comments, articles, etc. are made on one particular site and repurposed on another out of context. Of course you can’t do anything about it because those who do this have a certain sense of entitlement and hide behind the anonymity provided by the web. Eternal Gaze//Scope’s writer Matt Hanson expecting me to speak to him in a concilitory manner if I were to contact him again. I’d already requested that he discontinue pulling reviews and posting them out of context. Matt Hanson doesn’t feel he’s done anything wrong. Why Matt Hanson needs to pull RSS feeds or repurpose other sites’ content to fill up his blog is beyond me. Matt Hanson could just post a rant like this one bitching about some punk emailing him about to remove his name from his blog!

So, to sum up my rant… We all need to be aware of appearances even if they are in the form of email, forums, pictures, etc. because you never know who’s looking and you never know when your personality is going to be co-opted, and you can’t control how, where or by who either.

See ya,
Michael Durwin

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