The objective of the series on marketing attribution was to demonstrate how constraints, caused by humans and nature themselves, generate enormous issues in the marketing sciences.
Sometimes such issues are trivialized away.
“After all, this isn’t exactly rocket science.”
Indeed it’s not.
Marketing science is harder.
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky published the basic physics of how a rocket escapes Earth’s gravity in 1903. Those laws of physics applied in 1957 when Sputnik was launched. They’ll apply the same way again when/if, in 2012, 55 years later, North Korea gets something out into orbit.
While the math looks intimidating, it’s Newton, some systems thinking and some calculus.
There are engineering difficulties with respect to stress, force, and materials sciences that are not trivial. In general, however, the science involved in sending a payload into orbit are known and uncontroversial. I’m not reading angry blogs about the right escape velocity or the proper way to calculate an integral. There aren’t a series of ‘camps’ that have sprung up around fundamental aerospace physics. It’s settled. There are no more gaps in our current knowledge.
In marketing you can’t say that the same things that worked reliably in 1957 would work in 2012.
Here’s an ad from 1957, right around when Sputnik was launched. Take some time to watch it.
Here’s an ad for the same company from 2012. Again, compare.
Try running that 1957 ad today. Would it be effective? Try running that 1957 ad in any country where it is 1957 today (Thailand, for instance). Would it be effective? Probably not. Even if you updated it for color, we, ourselves have changed. The idea of staged road test as though it was objective would be treated with incredulity. (There wasn’t a second annual auto decathlon, was there?)
Would that 2012 Chevy commercial about the end of the world work in 1957? Somehow, I don’t think post-apocalyptic imagery would have played very well during the Red Scare, especially after Sputnik.
Physics isn’t marketing. The gravity well that is Earth is a fairly constant. The system that is ourselves, and the interplay between what we produce in marketing, and what marketing does to us, is dynamic. It makes identifying the natural laws of marketing extraordinarily difficult.
Similarities and Differences
Konstantin Tsiolkovsky saw rocketery as a closed system. Mass, in the form of a propellant and a payload, was causing the rocket to move through space and time. The constraint the rocket was facing was Earth’s gravity. These variables, isolated, containable, and unpacked, yielded a very clean dynamically updating model.
And there’s some evidence that marketers themselves became aware of this.
The concept of divergence is known to us. It’s derived from solid evidence that audiences recall risky and unusual messages. Indeed, you may remember the following car commercial from 2006:
The marketers demonstrate awareness of what they’ve done to the audience in their playful follow up. (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6071017590482456455 ):
That’s not to say we don’t give up. 220 (or 229) years elapsed between Newton/Leibniz and Tsiolkovsky. The first references to marketing as a science dates to 1885, and we only seriously got started in 1965. Several advances in complexity theory and systems research help.
So, no, analytics and the marketing sciences aren’t exactly rocket science.
They’re more complicated than that.
I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at christopherberry.ca