April 29, 2015

airbnb Commercials

Have you seen the TV commercials? Here's one (click here if you don't see the image).

There's two lines of reasoning out there. There's the folks who get paid by saying silly things that generate page views that ultimately attract advertisers. They tell you that television is dead (and it may be dead ... what happens when cable is unbundled and ESPN cannot charge every household in America $5 a month ... or what happens when 90% of the public chooses to not get Fox News or MSNBC because they find political rhetoric offensive ... how does Fox News / MSNBC survive when 22 year olds are no longer subsidizing programming designed to agitate 65 year olds?)

The second line of thought is different. It's not public. It's common sense business people working in an evolving ecosystem. Advertising is an evolving ecosystem, make no mistake about it. The ecosystem changes all the time. One day you have a free audience on Facebook, the next day you're paying Facebook pennies to speak to the free audience you cultivated on your own, and the day after it is too expensive to talk to your audience on Facebook, causing you to shift advertising dollars to (gasp) television.

This doesn't mean that television is back, much in the same way that it doesn't mean anything that JCP mailed one (1) catalog. It's just an evolving, bubbling ecosystem, where smart people are looking for inexpensive solutions to reach people. The smart people are first, they get any (if any) benefit that exists, and then the masses come, driving up prices, getting less for their dollar. When the masses arrive, the smart people have already moved on to something different. That's why they are smart people!

In my projects, I see those who analyze, and those who "do". Those who analyze are always late to the party. They worry about getting an attribution algorithm just right. They spend four months evaluating attribution partners. They argue about the right way to define things. Those who "do" try television. They just try it. They don't even bother to see if sales should be attributed to television, they just move, constantly. If television works, sales increase, and every person in the company can plainly see it ... no need to parse the solution out in a complex mathematical attribution algorithm that may well be wrong in the first place, an algorithm that ultimately feeds a larger data-intensive ecosystem that truly benefits the algorithm creator more than the algorithm user.

Hard work is coming, folks. Twenty years ago, the internet was new and exciting and new business models were created upon it. Growth was easy. Key innovations since has been less effective at driving sales increases (search, social), requiring the internet to cannibalize offline activity to grow. We have no idea how mobile will turn out. So until we see how mobile turns out, there's a period of intense, hard work required out of all of us, hard work that won't necessarily yield positive results.

Here's an example of the hard work that is coming ... Uber delivering for companies like Neiman Marcus. Will Neiman Marcus experience a sales increase? Highly unlikely. Are the testing something? Are they following the herd?

Do not follow. Following is expensive.

Do not wait. Waiting is expensive.

Try something. You need new customers.

Try something different. When it doesn't work, move on, don't bemoan the fact that it didn't work, celebrate that your have a culture willing to try things. If Airbnb tries television, and they're lauded by the digerati, shouldn't you try something different as well? Try.