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The unclicking 84%

Mark points us to this great set of stats.

Basically, all of the clicks for all the ads online come from only 16% of the surfers, and most of them come from just 4% of all internet users.

So, if you optimize your ads for clicks, it means you're ignoring a huge population.

If your business is built around the kind of person who clicks, you win. If it isn't, you either need to not buy ads online or buy ads optimized for attention and familiarity, not clicks.

Imagine that only left-handed people clicked on ads (it's about the same percent). What are you going to do if you make a product for the right-handed portion of the population?

It's okay to make an ad that isn't easy to measure. If it works, that's enough.

When data and decisions collide

Until recently, most of the decisions we were called on to make were based on hunches, insight and a little bit of data. Occasionally, a field like direct marketing would develop into something quite data-driven ("I don't care if you like mailer one, Smythe, mailer #2 did three times, better! Number 2 it is.") but not often.

It took Ignaz Semmelweis more than twenty years (he died before it happened, actually) to persuade doctors that washing their hands could save the lives of mothers giving birth. He had the data, he had the proof, but that wasn't enough to change minds.

Data mining and the proximity of the internet to most of what we do is changing the proximity of proof to decision. Now, you don't need to do a lot of research, the data is just a click away.

What are you going to do when your hunches don't match the data that's now pouring in?

The data shows, for example, that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk. It doesn't feel that way, of course, but will you respect the data and stop, cold turkey?

The data shows that the vast majority of wine drinkers can't tell the difference between a $20 bottle and a $100 bottle. Will that keep you from buying the fancy wine? How much is the placebo effect worth?

The data shows that famous colleges underperform many cheaper, friendlier, smaller colleges. How much is your neighbor's envy worth?

These are just a few of the millions of examples of counter-intuitive data-driven findings. It took Galileo decades to persuade people the light objects fell as fast as heavy ones… even though he was busy dropping them off buildings for all to see. I wonder how long it will take us to get our arms around this avalanche of insight. Probably longer than most of us think, and marketers that jump too quickly to data are going to be disappointed (while lifehackers that use the data are going to continue to have a huge advantage).

Limited edition boxed set available today SOLD OUT!

[We ended up selling more than three a minute. You guys are so cool. We had a few counter problems, but it didn't effect the number we sold…they're all gone, 800 in total, and I won't be able to sell any more. Thank you for the energy and support!]

It seems as though the Apple tablet is unlikely to be ready in time for the holidays… what to get?

How about a boxed (a wooden box) set of five of my books? Very limited (only 800 will be sold, ever). Sold at a discount from retail, with cool packaging, assembled by elves, delivered by Martians, blessed by enlightened goats.

My goal was to make a rare item, even if it doesn’t make any money. More and more, I’m thinking of books as artifacts and souvenirs, as convenient and collectible packages for ideas that spread. I’m hoping that for a few hundred people, this boxed set will be an example of that.

The set includes Tribes, The Dip and Meatball Sundae. Also included is the fancy new Purple Cow (new because it includes twenty more pages of user-suggested purple cows) and the extra-fancy new All Marketers are Liars (new because it has a new cover–a better cover, actually, more on that later–and a new foreword).

If you want to buy any of the books individually (no box), use the links you can find here.
If you’ve read some or all of these before, even better! What would make a happier gift for the clueless marketer in your life?
The details are here, so be sure to read the fine print.

I’m sorry if they sell out before you get there, but first come first served seemed like a fair way to handle it. Remember, one per customer! If you pay for more than one, we'll donate extra payments to charity.

Thanks for reading and have fun!
Box, sleeve, design, elf fulfillment, goats.

Ms. In-between

The either-or world continues to decay, confronted by a shifting economy and the tools of the net.

It used to be easy to tell if someone was a journalist. Either you were or your weren't. So giving special privileges to journalists was easy. Parking permits, press badges, first amendment protections… no problem, you're a journalist. Everyone else? No way.

It used to be easy to tell if someone was an entrepreneur. Either you had a full-time job or you ran a business. So we could treat employees the same (health insurance, no moonlighting) and assume that the few that didn't have jobs were full-time freelancers or entrepreneurs.

It used to be easy to figure out who did the buying at an organization. The purchasing department did. So we knew who to call on.

Now, of course, it's all jumbled up. Everyone is a journalist, of course, but just a few do it for a living. Everyone is a freelancer, or, at the very least, always looking for the next gig. Everyone with a credit card can do the purchasing, they just expense it.

Society hates this. It means we need to make up new rules, FTC disclosures, legal principles, safety nets and more.

Marketers love this, because it means change and that means opportunity.

If the only reason you're only wearing one hat is because you've always only worn one hat, that's not a good reason.

Help your customers avoid taking responsibility

It's interesting to see that people are much better at putting up with things that happen to them than they are at living with the consequences of a bad choice.

When you can blame someone else (or the gods of spite, chance and bad luck) it's emotionally safer than it is to acknowledge you made a lousy choice.

If the weather is freakishly bad on your vacation, you can embrace pity from your friends, and spend your angst cursing the storms.

On the other hand, if you book a trip in the middle of hurricane season, you've got no one to blame but yourself.

This is a great opportunity for marketers and others that want to engage with the public. If you can figure out how to communicate, "it's not your fault," then people will be grateful, and they'll return. It might not be right, it might not be mature and it might not be the behavior society wants to advance, but it works.

Even better, figure out how to teach your customers to enjoy taking responsibility. It's the long term solution that builds a healthy relationship between customer and vendor… you coach them on good choices and they embrace what happens after they make them.

Attention lust and Olympic craziness

For many organizations and individuals, attention is the most precious resource. The pursuit of attention for our ads, or our city or our careers dominates all else.

How else to explain the silly math that is used to justify Olympic hoopla? Can imagine how little patience people would have for the IOC and their internal politics if they didn't have a show that so many people wanted to watch?

Almost every city that has hosted an Olympics regrets it financially. The TV networks spend billions. The advertisers pay for it. The hoopla is vast and loud.

For what?

For the attention. It's the attention that gets cities to put up with the ridiculous system for choosing host cities and gets the TV networks to ship camera crews half way around the world. It's the attention that turns the Olympic committee into vigilant trademark and copyright police. It's easy to cut countries or companies willing to bankrupt themselves for pride or attention a little slack. After all, the Olympics is a magical event.

Except it's not. The same craving for attention happens every day in every organization in search of just one more pair of eyeballs. As marketers discover that more eyeballs does not equal better, the quixotic quest for attention will start to abate.

The formula is simple but depressing: marketers have been lousy at harvesting attention because there was just so much of it. So it was more like strip mining than careful, efficient use of a natural resource. Now that attention is harder to get, people are overpaying for it and the Olympics is just one example. The alternative is to create focused, intense networks that ignore the masses. For most marketers, that's exactly what we need.

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