Interesting article on Silicon Insider saying ‘Google Is Wrecking DoubleClick, Says Unhappy Client’. The article suggests that people long in academia, and short in real-world experience are now running the show… and its missing the mark. Greatly. That certainly rings true with the many ex-DoubleClick staff that I have met – not to mention grumbles at agencies. But at this point in 2010 I think we are missing something else.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware of DoubleClick’s contribution to starting the online display industry, and have written favorably about them in my history of online advertising. But that was then. After all, it doesn’t take a Harvard degree and you certainly don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that 15 year old ad technology, is well… 15 years old!

You wouldn’t buy a 15 year old car for your client. You wouldn’t use a 15 year old computer, and pretty much guarantee you didn’t have a mobile 15 years ago. 15 years ago CompuServe WAS the Internet. Now, if you haven’t heard of them, you can go read about them in Wikipedia. The same will happen here. A brand will die, a new one will replace it.

Any legacy systems were built for a very, very different world. All you had back then were tiny little clickable gifs in a bland world of blue text links. Now needs are different and the world needs something built completely from the ground up to meet different challenges. DoubleClick knew it, hence the acquisitions over the years. Yet it seems Google thinks the answer lays in a different direction; namely technology will replace humans. Sorry I don’t buy that. I just believe people want to be helped by people and customer service is not a ‘Steve Hawkings’ telephone voice saying click *#3. Technology should never replace people.

Consider this ‘different’ world and cultural differences like in Asia. It used to amaze me that Google Search was not so strong there like in the West until I realized that they have always had broadband, so why text search and click on gifs when you have always had video – and streaming TV on mobile – or can point a mobile at a QR code, as opposed to typing something in. A different infrastructure has brought about different challenges and consumer preferences. Guess what people, the same is about to hit the West with a whole range of new portable media devices running over 4G, or Internet enabled BluRay live in the homes. We will end up with a mix-match of consumer experiences in both cultures. The web today is far more then clickable text and gifs, digital advertising is more then banners in browsers.

And so in the advertsing technology arena we accept things have just got way out of hand. Technology today is far too complicated, and certainly has not simplified stuff down the way it should. In my honest opinion advertising technology has failed. Bright-eyed and bushy tail digital enthusiasts leave college with marketing degrees and instead of working on the next innovative thing, they find themselves at 10pm each week night cutting and pasting stuff in Excel… hello?! No wonder they are so keen for a free lunch on Friday – its the only job satisfaction a lot of them get these days.

So is the answer in replacing agency folk in some TransHumanistic way, assuming if all we are doing is buying and measuring clicks then we can automate everyone out of a job with some clever exchange? Well, despite the clap-trap hot air in people still talking about click benchmarks and view-thru’s at lower-levels, I am equally excited to see some amazing challenges coming in from agency strategy folks who realise that display is driving more then site visits, but rather drawing people into discussing brands on social media, or seeing them investigating more information on review and price comparison sites that drive purchase offline – all of which can leave traces of dispaly advertising to be seen as activity in search or buzz, for example. And all those consumer permeations are not going to be found in just auto-optimising display clicks, assuming that equals media performance.

The industry has been heading down a dead-end road since its inception and we have been fitting round clients into square holes since. We listened to software engineers focussing on easy-clicks rather then advertsing psychology, human neurophysiology or just plain old consumer experiences. We traded years of insightful marketing knowledge and limited ourselves to what technology could do as opposed to making technology do what it ought, and that is facilitate humans to better learn about other humans. We opted for the ‘new super get thin pill’ with exaggerated claims just to take it out in the field and realise it doesn’t work.

So you see, I have issue with technology replacing people, as opposed to making their lives easier. You can take all your perverse technophilia thanks very much and I will leave my head screwed on. People want to work things out with people and thats why agencies have – and will – always exist. This is why I do not think Google and pay-per-click and display exchanges is the answer to the advertising world. You can’t scientifically explain away emotive behaviour and aesthetic appreciation to commercial art any more then you can discuss ‘love’ in terms of chemical reactions of pheromones or reduce why someone has butterflies in their tummy to mere neurons and atoms. Auto-optimizing clicks will never explain why consumers queue up for the new iPhone or to get Jimmy Choos at half price.

Neither is the answer in idolising the glorious past of yesteryear of a digital Madison Avenue, like an episode of MadMen. You can throw your beef around, but for my money I want brand new technology that gives clients what they need now, not reminisce about how great the ZX Spectrum was in the 80’s. And let’s all be honest, arguing Microsoft’s Atlas as a serious contender is liking trying to argue the merits of an Oric-1 over the ZX81…

Thats why I am so blown away that a company with balls has unleashed Mediamind. On a crowded page 10 years ago we needed something to jump out and say ‘click’, that was yesterday’s Eyeblaster. In a crowded and complicated technological world today we need something to jump out and say ‘chill’, that is today’s Eyeblaster. Something that brings a radical new approach to empowering agency staff through creative technology.

So if double-clicking now seems like too much effort, then click here, just once… and get your evenings back.

After all, things are harder then they should be. Simplify.
Mediamind by Eyeblaster.


Update: Looks like the tinder is becoming a wildfire…

“It’s a total sh*t show. Google tried way too hard to make DCLK feel good about the acquisition and it completely backfired.”