The Future of AdTech/MarTech — Long Story About How I Can Help Twitter Finally Make Money
Twitter had just posted its earnings for Q3 2019 a couple of days ago, when I stumbled on news about how poor it was, and how the stock had lost 10% in value based off that.
I think Twitter made profits for the first time last year. I was still thinking on this, when I stumbled on something totally unrelated but, as is the nature of these things, a few dots connected in my head, and brought the light of insight.
The dot that sparked the light of insight was this one:
Mimesis and Girard
Before I dive in deep, I will give you a brief overview of Mimesis and Girard. If Mimesis sounds familiar, its because it’s related to two words that you may already be very familiar with: Meme and Mimicry.
I can tell you for free, that Definition nr. 2 is a very recent addition to the lexicon.
Now, back to Mimetics and Girard. Girard was a French Philosopher that propounded a theory of human behavior, the core points of which are:
- We learn a lot of things by mimicking others in our society.
- This mimicry extends into what becomes a tragedy of the commons — where you get an iPhone XS MaxPro, because your mate got an iPhone XS; and then he gets an iPhone 11 just to top you ad inifinitum.
- This mimicry then becomes so bad, that society reaches a point of saturation where scarce resources now become a point of conflict.
- What happens at the point of this saturation? At this point of maximum conflict, the society usually points out a Scapegoat — that is viewed (whether rightly or wrongly) as the cause of all the problems in the society — who is then sacrificed (Aztec Human Sacrifices come easily to mind). After which, there is some form of reset to the societal level mimetic conflict.
The thought of an innocent individual being offered up as a sacrifice for peace, might seem like something that is so far from what we would ever do in modernity, but hold that thought. I can give you endless examples of Mimetic Scapegoats from Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to the Jews in the Holocaust to Immigrants in the Brexit Vote and the 2016 American elections, to Mark Zuckerberg in the aftermath. It goes on.
Guess what? Mimetic Theory isn’t of particular interest to us. Remember, we are trying to help Twitter finally make money, like its peers (Heh). What is of interest however, is what Mimetic Theory means for Social Media. If we go back to the passage I highlighted above:
The possible applications of this thinking to social media in particular should be relatively obvious. The structures of social platforms mediate the presentation of objects: that is, all "objects" appear embedded in, and placed in
relation to, visible signals of the other's desire (likes, up-
votes, reblogs, retweets, comments, etc.). The
accumulation of such signals, in turn, renders objects
more visible: the more mediated through the other's
desire (that is, the more liked, retweeted, reblogged,
etc.), the more prominent a post or tweet becomes on
one's feed, and hence the more desirable. Desire begets
desire, much in the manner that Girard describes.
Moreover, social media platforms perpetually enjoin
users, through various means, to enter the iterative chain
of mimesis: to signal their desires to other users, eliciting
further desires in the process. The algorithms driving
social media, as it turns out, are programmed on mimetic
Yet it is not simply that the signaling of desire (for
example, by liking a post) happens to produce relations
with others, but that the true aim of the signaling of
desire through posting, liking, commenting, etc. is to
produce relations with others. This is what meme theory
obscures and mimetic theory makes clear: memes, far
from being autonomous replicators, as meme theory
would have it, function entirely as mediators of social
relations; their replication relies entirely on those
relations. Recall that for Girard, the desire for any object
is always enmeshed in social linkages, insofar as the
desire only comes about in the first place through the
mediation of the other.
I want you to hold that in one hand, turn it over in your mind, and then proceed into the next section.
The Next Frontier — How Twitter Finally Makes Money
The next frontier in Social Marketing/Advertising would be The Individual as an Influencer. Hold on to this thought. In less than 10 years, we have seen a shift from media-enshrined Influencers (Celebrity Endorsements and brand placement in movies and music videos) to a Social Media enshrined Influences. This has seen people who would otherwise be regular folks, become the forefront of big brands. In an unspoken way, this shift has been huge, and in no small part driven by how so much more measurable advertising has become.
Now, in the previous paragraph, I said: “The next frontier in Social Marketing/Advertising would be The Individual as an Influencer” what does this mean? It simply means that rather than a random Twitter/Facebook/Youtube Celebrity being an influencer, YOU through your online avatar will become an influencer.
The more I have thought about it, the more I realize that this is something that should exist already, because the existing tools are already there. It’s simply a case of imagination and connecting the dots.
How do I mean? I’ll show you.
Let’s imagine that regular people could get paid by their Social Media company for ad spaces on their feed. Not just a space that you would see on the public timeline. Rather, an ad that exists on your profile timeline. It would be a blank space, where what is seen, depends on what the SM company — in this instance, Twitter — uses as an ad. Maybe you don’t care. You are just happy to get your check at the end of the month.
Hold this one too, in one hand. It will become relevant in a sec.
We’ll use a new gadget as an example product. Say the iPhone 11 (yes, again). Let’s say you search for the Keynote speech and search the specs of the phone online. Boom, the internet now knows you are scoping out a new phone. You sign in, Instagram and the first post you see, is SlayKwin112 with this phone that you were only just searching about.
You don’t like SlayKwin112 like that anyway. So you scroll, and keep scrolling. Your friend Ibukun is in Santorini and she just took a selfie with, you guessed it, with an iPhone 11. You would never miss those 3 lenses anywhere. On and on, through your feed, maybe 4, 10x more times the phone shows up. You come on Twitter. Random things in your feed about how Apple has outdone themselves.
This continues for another day or two. By Friday, you’re shelling out $1k+ for a phone.
What is this magic you say?
It is Mimetic Theory Applied + Tech at its most dastardly.
- Well we already have ad retargeting (you know those ads that follow you around the Internet).
- There are already fake reviews and bots, now imagine that SM companies aren’t fighting but they are actually using them.
- User Profile/Targeted Ads — Remember that Cambridge Analytica was only applying what was available through Facebook, basically accessing the well. Now imagine the power that Facebook itself already has, in knowing the exact way to target ads at YOU. This isn’t limited to sifting through your feed and seeing the things you like to talk about. It is also looking at the people with whom’s content you engage with the most.
- Custom Feeds — Don’t forget that Social Media Companies already control what you SEE. We know from Psychology that what you see constantly, controls what you consider important. Now imagine layering over this, an ability to control what you see from people you interact with daily.
- The User as an Influencer — This is the one element that weaponizes all the pieces with Mimetic Theory. We already have Influencer programs. SM Companies would simply need to extend this program to the regular users. What I’m about to say is a key way Twitter can solve its revenue problem, and I’ve sat on it for years. You say to everyone: Twitter is no longer free. You either pay for Twitter or Twitter will pay you. You pay $10/month and continue along or Twitter pays you $1/day. Twitter won’t lose users because it doesn’t seem like a bad deal either way. Most will opt to be paid, at first. The caveat with Twitter paying you is that x number of Tweets everyday will emanate from your account as ads. You don’t control what these ads say.
- DeepFakes/AR Filters — The last element is tricky but possible. AR Filters have continued to become better and more convincing, the more we use them. Obvious ads aren’t so effective, right? But what about placement? And what about placement with 3, no 5 of your friends/people you look up to? If we go back to the iPhone in our example. Imagine with me, that you take a selfie with your Tecno phone. But the ad-algo superimposes the iPhone 11 filter over it because your friend Segun is being targeted by iPhone 11 ads? Now multiply that over 10 mirror selfies in one day.
Combine all these elements together and BOOM you have the most powerful adTech push in history. The potential is mind boggling. People would be buying shit they don’t need cuz they think EVERYBODY has one but me (if you’re familiar with Mimetic Theory, that looks very familiar)
Looking at how technology has progressed so far, it is more than likely that this and more things like this will happen in the not too distant future. If I’m thinking this, imagine what the people whose paychecks depends on this, are doing?
- Well what if you meet up with your friend, and you find out that they really are using a Tecno and not the iPhone 11, what happens then?
Nothing. The unfortunate thing about powerful, mind-level swindles is that you see the con, but your mind has already been pushed toward the desired outcome anyway.
- Okay, what about GDPR?
HEH-with-a-snort. Unless changes are made to the GDPR regulation, this mod to AdTech will fly.
What are considerations am I missing? And what do you think the ramification of such innovations can be? Are you as scared pantsless, as I am? Let me know your thoughts.