Macs, Markers and Music.

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I just read the first page of an IBM white paper entitled “The End of Advertising as We Know it.” IBM spends a lot on advertising, is should know of what it speaks. But IBM also spends a lot of energy and Benjamins getting people to buy machines that process data.

The IBM thesis is that one-to-many advertising – using TV to create demand and preference for brands — is old school and the new school model surrounds micro-segment targeting, where handfuls of people, even individuals, are targeted. The new school messages are delivered over a number of mediums, especially the web, in ways that are much closer to the point of sale, much more measurable and efficient. A one-to-one approach.

IBM is wrong about the death of advertising. Way wrong. TV ads will live on. In fact, they will get better as we ferret out the sloppy craftspeople. But IBM is right in that marketing budgets will be using a lot more digital tools to help find customers, set the hook and maintain loyalty. These things will coexist; finding the right mix is the key.

The problem with IBMs of one-to-one prediction is that it requires more data analysts, marketing scientists and technology to get involved in consumer communications. The highly paid creative geniuses and the poorly paid Millennials who sit at their feet are not crafting the myriad brand stories. And product image suffers. The art of brand building and brand maintenance is lost when handled by the technicians in IBM’s data-driven world. The percent of actual dollars spent on marketing will tip in favor of computers and computer services and away from Macs, markers and music. A slippery slope indeed. Peace!