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Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006 at 12:47 pm

Marketers ‘in the drivers seat’ according to Scott Brinker

By Anthony Garcia
October 4th, 2006

Brinker100206_2Every once in a while you read something that makes you stop, scratch your head, scrunch up your forehead and wonder violently about the state of the internet, the country, the delicate balance of the ecosystm, and even the universe.  You wonder if  precicious gifts like life, profit, hope and common sense can stand up to the crap storm of human mental defeciencies.

No no no,  I wasn’t watching Al Gore’s new movie or reading about the war or Mid East politics, I was actually reading an Article at Ad Age.

The article started out innocent enough…

Historically, the most popular web-marketing metric has been traffic. How many visitors come to your website each month? How many unique, how many repeat? The web grew up with "hits" as a common denominator: The more you have, the better you are.

He continues on and brings up conversion rate as the ‘new’ measure.  Sure he is a wee bit behind the times(about 7 years by my count) but I am thinking to myself ‘at least he gets it."  Then I read this…

"Pitch mode," in contrast, funnels those who respond to an ad down an intentionally narrow path. The marketer is in the driver’s seat, crafting a presentation the user sees one screen at a time, usually in a linear sequence.

Now I have no gripe with Scott Brinker being wrong, wrong can happen to the best of us.  What troubles me is when ‘experts’ play on the fears and insecurities of vulnerable marketers who are desperately trying to improve their conversion rates and might actually start to believe that ‘pitch mode’ is an efficient means of optimization.  (Yes, despite our best efforts, some marketers still believe they are in control.)

But, Maybe I’m wrong, maybe marketers do have control.  Maybe this bridge is for sale.  Maybe I really am tall, blonde and have a full head of hair.

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Comments (2)

  1. I agree with your post wholeheartedly, but I think “baby steps” would be a good defense to Scott’s comment.

    The team at my company is made up of a lot of techie people (web designers, web developers, and usability experts), with a few marketing specialists thrown in there as well to round us out. That being said, we’re very used to the idea of learning about, and catering to a web visitor’s wants and needs (we’ve been doing it for a long time, without too much marketing experience involved).

    It seems like what Scott is trying to convey is that marketers that have chosen to try to tame the web need to start thinking WAY BEYOND just “hits,” and start thinking more along the lines of the user’s needs, and how to deliver them the information that they’re looking for in a relevant fashion.

    I could be wrong, but I think that trying to get people from “hits” to “Persuasion Architecture” in one giant leap might leave some marketers spinning!

  2. Anthony,

    Just read your commentary on my article from last year, which apparently struck a nerve. Thanks for not drawing an evil mustache on my picture.

    However, I think we may agree more than you think. Just because marketers are responsible for delivering web experiences on behalf of their companies that will meet or exceed user expectations — and those expectations have indeed changed dramatically over recent years — does not mean that marketers should implement them from their point of view. Everything needs to be through the eyes of the customer. I suspect my use of the phrase “pitch” implied otherwise, sort of an old-fashioned term that clearly conjured up the wrong idea. Maybe a better word would have been “path”.

    The principles of persuasion architecture are right on here, and giving users what they seek, on their terms, is the best way to execute context-specific paths for respondents to online campaigns. We’ve found that crafting highly focused paths, when executed with a user-centric perspective, can be very effective. But it absolutely has to be in a context where the user considers it a benefitial experience.

    We definitely agree that measuring performance on conversions is an infinitely more relevant metric. You’d be surprised though (although maybe not?) how many corporate marketing departments still view the world through hit-based measurements. As Chris commented, my article wasn’t trying to break new ground with that insight, but rather to just lend my voice to the chorus that conversion-centric thinking is a much better lens.

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