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  • Rakesh Prasad
  • 1285
  • Parliament House
  • April 26, 2017, 4:22 p.m.
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Digital marketing evolution and Basic Concepts - Bringing back the Sanity of Internet

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  • Digital marketing  evolution and  Basic Concepts  -  Bringing back the Sanity of Internet
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Read in Englishहिंदी में पढ़ें

Digital Marketing Concepts and Evolution.

Internet is "democratized" were the words after the launch of facebook a major digital marketing platform in 2004 and twitter in 2006. Earlier to say something on the internet you needed a channel, a gatekeeper who will vouch for what is published, will be responsible for what is published.

Those were the days of accountability, honor in media, public discourse. Everything was on the record and could be quoted, the kind of media which gave quality.

Governments can control the media, media is not free, its all for the elite, need to free up the public and their thoughts, bring out the revolution, freedom of speech, was the romanticism behind the marketing campaigns. it will bring billions out of darkness, make the world a better place.

A campaign still used while launching internet.org or similar by mega billionaires. 

But after 2004 is the world a better place? specifically India? Look around in the era of Digital Marketing Evolution through the decades largely controlled by Google's, Facebook's of the world, and think.

Honor Code

Let's get into the basics of media. A media organization of long gone era had a structure and a gatekeeper (Editor) who was responsible for dissemination of information, which kept the information going out of its channel in sync with sanity. Remember media organizations are advertisement based and the role and honor of an editor were very important so the news and information are not compromised.

There were bodies and regulations, also a self-enforcing honor code for people who are engaged with the channel. It kept things largely in sync, India, and the world has seen some honorable and respected news editors in print and TV. To keep the influence up for the newspaper or channel the bars were very high in terms of quality.

Information Democratization

Now facebook and twitters of the world started with a limited use case of connecting "real" people in a virtual world where people can keep in touch with people they know, can talk to their friends and family even when they are far away.

They were free riding on huge investors money and replaced other tedious ways like letters, phone calls, actually meeting your known and loved ones which needed efforts, time and money. Of course, we live in a world where it said: "time is money".

Regulators are woefully behind the curve of technologies. So no one really thought about what if people actually had to pay for these systems(not free), would they have replaced the older generation of communication? Those running on a basic economic principal of - Selling a service and getting paid to run and make profits.

In simpler words

A real world analogy is savvy but crony business starts giving free food(not his real business) in front of an old restaurant to push it out of business, so he might get paid by a drug company to live test their life mutating chemicals on real people later, once people are too much in habit of freebies, the old restaurant is long gone, and the rich guy has a monopoly. It's a time-tested strategy and has worked for hundreds of years in some shape and form. This was the digital marketing concept peddled through an array of marketers, many paid for to promote such practices.

Why it works and targeting frail human behaviors nudged by "harvested" or stolen behavioral data.

The platforms tapped into three very basic desires of humans and promoted in tremendous ways, all being free, like a honey trap.

1. Project their alter egos to everyone else.

2. Snoop into what others are doing.

3. All this while doing least amount of work (the whole viral push behind like and shares, 140 characters).

Billions were spent to provide and promote these free services quoting free speech, freedom etc. Now historically whenever humans get anything free or subsidized its lapped up quickly and harvested dry.

Subsidy to overconsume for private profits.

Farmers, city people alike, when given free electricity and freedom to dig bore wells, will dig till all the water dries up, Green Revolution though a great concept is a testimony of that. The investors pushing in billions knew this, the idea was when there are billions of such people neck deep into the habit of freebies, they can be harvested to do "various things".

Does it even work?

Selling a shoe based on if someone searched for a shoe, or was talking about a shoe is not really a moral hazard, if a legitimate, reasonable company pays such platforms to target their ads and the person gets to choose from a set of responsible brands its a win-win for all but is it that simple? maybe that person was talking about beating someone with a shoe, or a habitual liker who likes everything and also liked shoe, so the click through ratio wouldn't beat other forms of advertising, and would require way more ads to actually reach someone who "while engaging with friend, snooping on others and faking himself" would actually engage with your shoe ad.

Facebook folks and others knew this and to boost revenues they opened ads for everyone with minimal oversight.

This was a fine line, nothing bad in giving small guys a fighting chance and it looks great on the cover, but it started a war. Big marketers just had to up their game to harness sophisticated techniques and partnerships, and smaller guys to spend more to be relevant. Everything boosted revenues of these platforms, endowing them with a major pricing power in the global economies.

The concept of influencer marketing and the entry of the "Cult"

And then the backroom games started the whole concept of social clout, the influencer who can sell brands, the first wave to monetize such an expensive system. If you check the list of most influential people on these networks they are all entertainers, teenagers endorsing brands. Competition is huge so here is what an average influencer looks like - @TheMattEspinosa @KimKardashian they are promoted to sell brands and certain culture and are worth millions. To get to this level of influence they have to follow a certain path.

- Antics to be in limelight, e.g. crude reality shows, headlines grabbing controversies, putting up a show and compete with others putting up shows.

- Fake followers - In an open system with minimal oversight with right kind of money a legitimacy can be bought and created, various analytics sites quote more than 80% of fake followers for major influencers on these sites.

- Paid army in cyber cells actively endorsing the legitimacy of these influencers. keeping up the illusion.

Influencer marketing and Information Overload

To keep this show going, an information overload in the form of digital pollution was needed, dumbing down a whole generation. A whole economy was built around this marketing strategy, building many more billion dollar honey traps.

Entry of "Selfie Politician"

Many industrious people around the world specially India started saw this opportunity, to build credibility, reach a larger audience to sell consumables and political "ideas". And that gave birth to the politics as we see. In old times leaders were born out of revolutions, our current breed of leaders are born and die out of selfie. Their behavior resembling the behavior of their counterpart social media stars solely selling consumable and entertainment.

Are these really mega media platforms, just not regulated and without accountability.

This heavily complex system right now resembles like - A tremendously huge advertisements based media system with influence on masses but the owners of the system don't share any moral or legal accountability on the content created.

News channels and media though 24 hours now were watching, the ad revenues were slipping to this new form, the unbound giants. Many media channels and their editors were still bound by the honor code of old years but ripe for a decline.

Now a journalist of honor had to compete with drawing room informal chit-chats guided by these informal influencers for advertisement revenues.

Formal media houses had no other way but to jump in and there was the start of "post-truth world"

If we look around us what do we see?

1. Leaders working for a selfie, public discourse has fallen to the level of a B-grade reality television series. Legislation and executive processes are now bound by short-term appearances and not by long-term sustainability of the nation.

2. Media houses working without any accountability feeding into this whole system, losing their own identity. Now used only for "manufacturing consent" to win elections.

3. A tremendous amount of Indian tax payers money is being moved into the accounts of these mega foreign giants in one form or another.

4.  The old form of formal government communications like press releases on Doordarshan, Radio or other legitimate, responsible, accountable channels is now heavily overshadowed by a barrage of tweets, posts, and promotions backed by a heavy machinery.

This whole scenario is pushing a country like ours with a lower level of technological and education enlightenment towards a major catastrophe. We have seen attempts by foreign mega billionaires to subjugate India's internet systems under philanthropic robes like "Free basics".

Can India let internet with such a huge impact on population be the captive of a few mega foreign billionaires running the show through their cronies and consent manufacturers?.

This is a live action research to document this aspect of the Internet including the bells, and whistles running this system and the whole economics behind it including.

- Cyber cells and propaganda machinery.

- People - starting with political leaders misusing the system.

- Conflicting economic incentives created by major digital oligarchies like Google, Facebook, and similars.

- Socio, economic, cultural impacts of such technological implants on India.

To contribute to this research click Connect and get verified.

Team @ballotboxIndia.

Title Image courtesy - Walt Disney

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