Marketing in the Post-Truth Era

Wednesday, 26 April, 12:30pm-1:30pm

Analytics Marketing, Instructor: Schultze

My thesis for class today: Given the rise of fake news, alternative facts,  trolling, and the newly weakened FCC, digital-born information is creating new anxiety for American internet users. How do content producers online (be they writers, advertisers, or web librarians like me!) create information in this overwhelming, anxiety-producing, increasingly-extremist environment?

Who am I?

Let me place myself academically: my background is in English/music, than librarianship, than information science, and specifically UX and web design. As a result, I think about information in a particular way:

  • Everything we create is brimming with messages about who and what we are that we only perceive or choose subconsciously,
  • I am always creating content and communications for libraries. I usually call it outreach instead of marketing b/c of the implication of our services and resources as commodities instead of available to anyone
  • This is possibly a different relationship to information than how you all study and create content in this class. This gives us an excellent space to discuss.

From Truthiness to Post-Truth

2006: Truthiness was the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year

2016: Post-Truth was the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year

Digital Divide and “Online Civic Reasoning”

  • Stanford’s study – Evaluating Information: the Cornerstone of Online Civic Reasoning : students don’t know what promotional material is (88% misidentified sponsored content – p10)
    • Digital divide, both traditional and new
      • 77% of Americans own smartphones >> 13% of Americans are smartphone-only internet users
      • 13% of Americans don’t use internet
      • This figure is smaller the less education someone has (54% of ppl with less than high school education have a smartphone)
      • More people have a smartphone, but it doesn’t bridge the digital divide: “workaround ecosystem”
      • 63% of newcomers need assistance to even get online or set up a device
      • Discuss: does the digital divide impact the marketing industry?
  • To alleviate fears, anxieties, and uncertainties people will retreat into curated versions of the internet that support their viewpoints and where things they disagree with can be blocked…

Algorithms and their Influence

  • … And algorithms support that behavior with a tilt towards the extremist 
  • Yet Google (YouTube) algorithms cannot yet tell the difference between politically sensitive or morally repugnant material that brands DON’T want their ads associated with  
  • Advertising data-collection algorithms are fed into huge data silos… data scientists and the implications of massive data collection >> Haunted by Data ( 1:55 and 15:00 to the end)
    • Advertising is the “economic cornerstone of the internet”
    • But data is collected, stored, and archived indiscriminately
    • This data might as well be nuclear waste
    • “Jetson effect” >> we haven’t developed social, political, or economic structures to accommodate rapidly changing technology
  • Algorithms learn unethically and amorally but we don’t understand how they work (Machine Intelligence Makes Human Morals More Important 3:58 – 10:50)

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