All attribution is correct. This was a light bulb moment I had driving home to Durham from Content Marketing World in Cleveland listening to Walter Isaacson’s “Einstein: His life and universe”. I realized Internet marketing in the age of Moore’s Law, Google and Facebook is controlled by a new physics, a new paradigm.
Internet marketers, myself included, try to fit new Internet marketing into an old geometry. Direct marketers think about Recency, Frequency and Monetary (RFM). Internet marketers think about campaigns, unique visitors, conversion funnels and dollars per visitor (among other Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s), Every metrics approach shares a common flaw- they are founded in a world of absolute determinism. They believe if we dive deep enough, look long enough or construct complicated enough algorithms we can understand the Internet’s NOW and predict our marketing future. We are asking the wrong questions in the wrong way. Instead of an absolute Internet marketing determinism maybe we are all Einstein’s children.
Why We Are Einstein’s Children
Einstein’s many discoveries so influenced our fast, furious and globally connected world it seems appropriate to steal a few ideas and see how they fit a new web marketing metrics. Old marketing analysis fails in a network-marketing world because of:
- No Failures Rule
- Friends of Friends
Einstein wrapped space and time together in an inseparable fabric called Space/Time. Displace Space/Time as planets do and gravity makes sense. Tracking how light is bent during an eclipse proved Einstein’s universe making Albert a physics rock star in the 1920’s.
Displacement happens on the web too. Scale Free, networks a term created by Notre Dame network researcher and author of Linked: How everything is related to everything else Albert-laszlo Barabasi, describes how all networks tend toward hubs as a result of “proprietary linking”. The Rich Get Richer is another way of understanding “proprietary linking”. Amazon has over 300 million pages in Google due to proprietary linking and a deep understanding of how a networked economy functions. Many large competitors such as Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, barely have more than a million pages in Google. Amazon’s dominance is dramatic demonstration of the advantage of content marketing networks and a reminder why platforms capable of generating User Generated Content (UGC) beat their much more static web site cousins (beat the pants off of web sites wouldn’t be an overstatement). Amazon also dramatically demonstrates the first of a handful of new Internet marketing laws or relativity:
New Internet Marketing Relativity Law #1:
There are no absolutes. Internet marketing is relative to who is observing it when and how.
Internet or network time is not the same as clock time. There is always more happening online than we can ever know. Things happen faster and different online. Our linear always moving forward idea of time may hamper our ability to understand Internet New Marketing Law #2.
New Internet Marketing Relativity Law #2:
In a networked marketing environment events that appear simultaneous may not be.
Dropping a well-crafted email with an attention getting subject line increases conversions on most web sites. Cause and effect seem clear, but some conversions assigned to the recently dropped, brilliant email will be unrelated. False attribution happens because we apply linear time in a nonlinear network environment. In a network marketing environments there is a distinct and constant NOW coupled to a giant elephant’s never forget memory (Google) creating a constant THEN too. Keeping two such seemingly contradictory ideas in mind can cause dissonance or confusion, but Internet time is faster and different than human time.
People are messy. People traveling across content networks are VERY messy. Your customers see your paid ads on Google (PPC), receive your catalog (direct mail), heard about your offer from a friend on Twitter (friends), may hear about it again from a friend of a friend (friend of friends) and type your URL directly into Google choosing to click on your site’s organic (nonpaid) listing. When they buy where do you attribute the sale or conversion? Even the most sophisticated web metric attribution algorithms can’t clean up the mess. Internet Marketing’s Uncertainty Principle states when you look and how you look changes the results. Looking, as it did for Heisenberg, changes the results.
Einstein created a thought experiment to help realize the relativity of human perception. A man sitting on a hill sees two lightening strikes on either side as simultaneous, but a man on a train directly in front of the same man (the one on the hill) sees one (the one closer to the speeding train) and then the other. If lightening strikes are relative to our position and movement so is any analysis of Internet marketing bringing us to Internet New Marketing Law #3.
New Internet Marketing Relativity Law#3:
The only "failure" in Internet marketing is doing nothing.
Some Internet marketing may appear to drive more traffic, conversion and other positive web metrics. Internet marketing relativity means we may be looking at a small thing standing on the shoulders of an unseen big thing, a small person standing on the shoulders of a giant.
All Internet marketing campaigns are important even, and possibly especially, outright “failures”, Failures may be contributing in ways we will never see, know or appreciate. The web is too complicated and quick moving to know, analyze or include every influential element. No matter how good your metrics the Internet Marketing Uncertainty Principle applies – you don’t know what you don’t know and may never.
In a network marketing world the only true failure is doing nothing. Networks either grow or fade. Some forces withing the Internet such as Google algorithm changes, competition and decay erode content value similar to how inflation reduces money’s buying power, or water erodes stone leading us to New Internet Marketing Law#4....
Look for the conclusion of Internet Marketing Relativity on ScentTrail on Technorati on Saturday. Please share new rules of Internet marketing you've discovered in comments or email to MartinSellingZoe(at)aol. If you would like to be a guest ScentTrail Marketing blogger that would be great. Send an email to my aol address and we can work out details for your guest post.
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Moore's Law on Wikipedia
Walter Isaacson's Einstein biography on Amazon (great listening to this, thanks John)