Friday, February 09, 2007

The Meaning of MindChange

The other day I was asked what the word mindchange means.

The word was originally coined by Willis Harman - a futurist, emeritus professor of Engineering-Economic Systems at Stanford University, and a member of the Board of Regents of The University of California. Harman realized that we need to change the way we think before we can hope to change the way we act.

Einstein thought along the same lines when he said, and I'm paraphrasing here - problems can't be solved within the mindset that created them, they must be approached from a new direction. How does this apply to digital advertising? What seems to be happening in the digital marketplace is that we are bringing all of our linear thinking over - reach, frequency, commercials of certain lengths (:30, :15) - and assume that things will work just fine.

Well, things aren't working just fine. And won't until we start to re-think what the actual problem is that we're trying to solve. The problem isn't that viewers are in control in the digital marketplace. The problem is that impressions, the basis for underwriting advertising over the last many years, are flat-lining. Which means that the financial foundation of the ad industry is crumbling. Instead of a mindchange, we try to change the digital platform to fit our old ways of thinking, desperately attempting to resuscitate the patient by aggregating impressions. And in so doing, hang on to the business models of the past.

But the fact is that in the world of digital media, while audiences will occasionally be large, they will more often be small, and usually, tiny. Impression-based marketing, a brilliantly functional model of the mass media, will need to evolve into something else. What that something else is, is what we need to discover.

It starts by re-thinking the problem. And understanding that the problem isn't one of aggregation.

It's one of compensation.

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