The headline is a quote borrowed from Oscar Wilde. In the context of this blog post it reflects on the often misguided and mass movement of special interest and demographic groups to tilt the needle on the sanity scale towards hysteria.... and that's not good.

Let me explain.

As marketers we believe our job is to inform the consuming public about a product or a service and to make a sale. We are charged with listening to them in order to understand their needs and then fill those needs as best we can. If we are smart marketers, we seek to connect and stay connected. Again .... make the sale, and then another.

We would like to believe we accomplish this is spades. We do not. We are not even close.

To a large (very large) degree we somehow managed to shift away from filling a need, moving instead towards creating a need. Some might call these creations fads. Others grasp them and market the hell out of them only to eventually concede to the definition of fad or phase or meme.

As the fad becomes "popular" and is collectively followed by an enthusiastic population, driven by emotional excitement and often peer pressure, it eventually succumbs as a faded novelty.

Social interaction, now defined and monitored as social "media", is a trend that has been tracking time over centuries. The Agora was a marketplace that encouraged social interaction and in some manner is believed to exists today in the form of Myspace, Twitter, Facebook or China's RenRen.

It is not.

These channels, or open air markets, are simply fads that have not yet recognized the true dynamics of a social marketplace. MySpace failed. AOL is gasping. Twitter struggles to find a workable model and Facebook may soon be approaching a privacy tipping point that forces a reversal of growth.

The market channels that will survive the test of time, innovating as they move forward, are best defined by Apple, Microsoft and Google ... companies that create lasting trends ... not fads.

Let's not be marketers consumed by the emotionally young chatter that disguises itself as "the future". That market represents a disproportionately small segment of consumer spending today. And I promise you that their behavior and attitudes will change as they mature.




Can AOL be fixed or is it time for the company execs to fold the tent and go AWOL?

As an outside observer, internal memos and external "off the record" quips seem to position the company as one grasping at straws, exasperated by bad, very bad, ad sales and earnings.
Tim Armstrong, AOL's CEO, wants to turn the company around with a manifesto of "wants" that reads like a child's tantrum.

This link to SAI's Business Insider puts it all into perspective with a peek into the AOL Master Plan.

The most recent broadside follows with a chart that illustrates how bad display sales really are.

Click on the chart to enlarge it
Where AOL goes from here remains to be seen. It is hard to argue, however, that this once high flying media company will survive in its current form.