Monday, January 24, 2011

previously i have shared missives from Scott Shamp, director of the university of georgia's new media institute...this one rolled into my inbox today, and humorous as it is, the point is important...advertizing only works if it is relevant...

Do I need a smoky look? My iPad thinks I do.

No red chili pepper. Go figure! My reviews on Rate My Professor are all over the place -- some love me, some well... But there seems to be universal agreement on one thing. I am not hot. So the advertisement that popped up during my breakfast with the New York Times app on my iPad piqued my interest.
"Get that smoky look!" Hey, maybe that was what was missing -- instead of scholarly, maybe I need to go sultry. So of course, I follow the link to a full page interstitial (that means the ad takes up the whole screen and you can't do anything else).
"New sumptuous extreme mascara.
Swipe for outrageous lashes.
Estee Lauder. Get a smoky look!"
Yeah, I just provided a click-through for a make-up company. And should I start using mascara I can guarantee that "outrageous" would work its way into my evaluations -- but I doubt that it would help my hotness factor.
I thought my iPad and I understood each other. I thought we were simpatico. There is probably no device (and probably no other person) who has more information about me. It knows which sites I visit. We read my email together. It keeps up with the apps I download. I thought the iPad really got me. Now it is pushing me cosmetic ads?

I get asked all the time what is the difference between "new" media and "old" media (hey, as a director of a New Media Institute it comes with the territory). Now I realize that a new difference is emerging. I used to talk about technology. Today, technology is a given. Now the important difference is aesthetics. Think of aesthetics as the criteria that we used to judge the quality of something. A new set of aesthetics is guiding the types of experiences people expect to have with technology. And one of the most important new aesthetics is relevance. We expect new media to provide us with relevant information -- in our news, our entertainment, and, yes, perhaps even more importantly in the ads we have to endure. The new new media consumer (the 18 - 34 demographic that media has to reach to survive) was reared on GMail where the ads down the side of the screen reflected the content of our messages. They are used to following the "Like" links suggested by friends. And, now research indicates that 48% of young people get their news from Facebook where they can attend to what their friends tell them they find interesting while shutting out the rest. They are selective and focused. More than at any point in history, this new consumer is constantly confronted with a media barrage. They expect media to respect their time by not bothering them with irrelevant info. Bottom line, new media consumers only care about what they care about. And my informal analysis from interacting with young people on a daily basis shows that rather than being creeped out by media that knows about them, they embrace media that understands them -- if the pay-off is relevancy.

So that is what bothered me about the Estee Lauder ad. It violated my new media sensibility -- it was irrelevant. With this technology my iPad and the New York Times should have done better. Because my iPad knows that my eyelashes are one of my assets -- I am looking for a blush that accentuates my cheekbones.

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