The old adage “There is no I in team” seems to be going by the wayside in the business of media these days. Though the “I” in question represents “Intelligence” of the artificial kind and not a particular individual. Is that really a good thing?
Analytics are the new “must have” regardless of which side of content you live on. Platforms need it (but still seem to want content owners, advertisers and just about everyone to bring more to them). Networks are constantly asking for it (in many cases only to get turned away by platforms who “don’t share that information”). Advertisers are getting promised it (by multiple companies offering varying interpretations as to the cause, meaning or action plan). Viewers appear to be providing it while also being terrified of doing so with little understanding as to how to stop sharing it.
Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Search Engine Optimization, IoT and Analytics aren’t ALL new. In fact, most sales professionals can promise you that we’ve been using analysis for quite some time to provide clients with competitive analysis, forecasting sales and revenue growth (or decline), predicting erosion (and avoiding it when possible) and in an effort to encourage ingenuity and change in the product ecosystem.
Keep in mind that I am posting this article only a few days after Frank Viola, pitching coach of the High Point Rockers in the Atlantic League, was ejected for arguing a call made by a robotic umpire in a baseball game. Suffice to say, I hope that Viola turns off the trackers in his smart TV. If not, be prepared for him to dispute your idea of advanced advertising and targeting. Worth nothing, Viola wasn’t held back from attacking the home plate umpire by data tracking. Order was restored by humans and communication (well, kind of).
Expectations are higher in every aspect of business as a whole but in media they couldn’t be much more anticipated. The big question may be, how much more revenue is there to be had using these sciences and protocols as opposed to the old combination of human intuition, trust and data alike?
With so many vendors to select from and an endless array of criteria to interpret, the main ingredient missing from this dance is ironically very human.
Anyone who has sat through internal meetings can relate to the tendency we all have of getting caught in the undertow of group-think when drinking the company Kool Aid. There are times when we all need to step outside our silos and get alternate perspectives. It helps when those perspectives come from professionals who walk in similar circles, speak with other players in the arena, have been part of successes and/or failures, or possibly know someone who can provide whatever “thing” their client is missing.
Throughout my career in sales, I’ve had moments during pitches or contract negotiations where the discussion with the client goes a bit off-script. It may come over lunch or dinner as we take a break from the tension of whittling away at the resolve each of us brings to the table. During these moments, the conversation can range from family or career to business and back to the deal points we are haggling over. At some point one or both of us ask, “So what is it that you’re really looking for?” That’s the magic moment. And I won’t lie. Candor is frequently encouraged by a glass of wine or two or three which isn’t typically available in a conference room.
AI and contemporary analytics run the risk of eliminating the moment between organizations and professionals where each of us can read between the lines. Organizations who over-rely on artificial intelligence and pure numbers will never have their “Pet Rock” moment. If you’re of a certain age you may recall that the Pet Rock was a huge hit in the mid-1970s. It was sold for about $4. Ultimately 1.5 million people bought a rock in a box. Gary Dahl (and advertising executive) who created the concept became a millionaire. I’m almost certain that analytics would have suggested that the whole idea was a recipe for disaster.
Intuition, Trust and Communication are pivotal elements of the sales process. Analytics or AI may be the new sexy way to suggest that someone be able to justify the sale of their products or services beyond a nice smile and a firm handshake. Still, let’s not pretend that they’re revolutionizing business. They’re not. The real change is the overconfidence that organizations are placing on analytics in place of true and meaningful partnerships that can whether good AND bad data.
Businesses used to focus on those five-year plans. These days two-year plans are more palatable for both sides. Tenure in organizations is far lower now with gold watch territory in the area of twenty-four months. Professionals are not always around to celebrate or lament the success or failure of the recommendations they made or enforced on the company they represent (willingly or otherwise).
As workforces shrink and consolidation continues to erode businesses of established professionals who aren’t focused on engineering, the big question that organizations should begin asking is obvious. What happens when results don’t match the analytics?
Relationship management should be developed as aggressively as is data mining and interpretation. If your sales, business development and marketing team isn’t well versed in crisis management that doesn’t involve something of the technology kind, you should reexamine your approach and make certain that your teams can weather the storm.
Written by: Michael Nagle, CMO at Invincible Entertainment