Marketing’s Evolution From Mad Men to Math (Wo)Men
These days we get so caught up in the minute-to-minute gyrations of digital media that we sometimes lose an understanding of what’s actually been occurring in our marketing industry over the last decade. That’s why the attached New Yorker article is so important. It’s a really long read, so save it for when you have some down time. In the meantime, I’ll try my best to summarize, but in full disclosure I won’t truly do the article justice.
As a starting point go back 50 years to the Mad Men heyday of the 1960s. Brands were made and broken by their creative positioning, and the ad agencies’ creative types who brought these ideas to life were business gods. In pitch meetings the creative leads would sit closest to the client and work their magic. For purposes of this analogy think of this approach as the Religion of marketing.
Now fast forward to the 2000s, when computers’ microprocessing speeds became advanced enough to spawn a new industry generally referred to as big data. Suddenly data could be collected on potential customers and crunched at scale to allow for hyper-targeting. Companies like Google, Facebook, and now Amazon began perfecting the data game and turned that into a monetization engine the likes of which the world has never seen before in any industry. In our analogy think of this chapter as the Science of marketing.
So where do we stand in 2018? The science of marketing has absolutely overtaken creative’s religion, and this trend shows no sign of abating. As a result creative ideation, which should never really go out of style, has been relegated to an afterthought once a computer algorithm tells us what platform to buy and whom to market to. I’m guessing Don Draper is rolling in his grave right about now.
Regardless of how you feel about this evolution, promise yourself you’ll read the article. It’s too important for our industry not to.