Ladies and gentlemen…
Earlier this week, I suggested, with tongue firmly lodged in cheek, that the current Mustang’s four-way-flasher switch was The Worst Button Of All Time. As is almost always the case with me, I had to take a shot at sneaking a few serious issues into what was otherwise a completely frivolous piece.
Issue Zero was my usual concern with bad content driving out good content on the Internet. Pretty much every site out there faces the same problem, and it works like so: Advertisers want clicks and impressions. The cheapest and largest-volume way to do that is to advertise on WorldStar or Pornhub or HuffPo but those clicks and impressions don’t mean anything if every one of your clickers is either an unemployed piece of shit or somebody who is furiously masturbating instead of reading your carefully-crafted banner-sized pitch.
So you have to pay at least lip service to the morally and politically problematic idea of “quality viewers” but that is not a goal for which to strive; rather, it’s an absolute floor on which you’d like to have both feet firmly planted. Looking it from a game theory perspective, what you want is to have
* the maximum number of clicks possible…
* …each of those clicks representing the least intelligent person possible…
* …who can still afford and consume your product.
This, incidentally, explains why advertising on television is still a thing. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you don’t consume a bunch of broadcast TV in real time. Either you’re using a streaming service, calling up saved content on a DVR, or bypassing that kind of stuff altogether. But old people still watch broadcast TV, and they spend money. There’s also a tremendous racial component:
African-Americans age 18-49 spend more than six hours a day watching Live TV–46% more than the Total U.S. on a Total Day basis and more than any other break. They also spend the most time with DVD playback and video game console use. People age 18-49 in White households use DVR playback the most, while Hispanic homes use it the least. Compared to all races and ethnicities, Asian homes spend the least amount of time watching Live TV and using a video game console.
How the holy fuck can you watch six hours of TV a day? And is anybody surprised that Asian-American households don’t bother to watch television? Is television time a function of economic success, or is economic success a function of television time? Does this explain why high-end luxury-good manufacturers are abandoning television like the proverbial rats off the sinking ship?
Alright, back to the Internet. The majority of the products that are advertised via general-interest sites on the Web are intended to be affordable for most people who have a job and a credit card. Ideally, as stated above, you’d be marketing to the least intelligent person who can pay for your product. The question becomes: how do you figure out who those people are? The good news is that you don’t have to! They self-select through their choice of websites and their choice of content on those sites.
This is what’s eventually going to kill my career as an online writer. I have a lot of smart readers who aren’t particularly rich. I meet them all the time at trackdays and auto shows. Those people are absolute poison from an advertising perspective. They are marketing-resistant. You’re better off choosing to advertise with a writer who writes for a broader — which is a nice way of saying stupid — audience.
Anybody who seriously thinks that this month’s Motor Trend has information on the real Apple Car in it and pays five bucks to buy the magazine from a bookstore… that guy is the Holy Grail of marketers. He’s an idiot and he has five dollars. Don’t let that dude get away. Track him with a fuckin’ helicopter and tag him with a dart gun and an RFID capsule so you know where he is at all times, the same way they’re keeping track of the last rhinos in the wild. You might have some protein supplements or something you need to sell in a hurry.
Eventually I’m going to have to start selling books instead of writing for outlets that depend on advertising money. I’m kind of looking forward to the day and also kind of not looking forward to it. There’s something to be said for being your own boss, but there’s also something to be said for the fact that I’ve never had a check from Hearst or Conde Nast bounce. Like not never.
Issue One — you knew I’d eventually stop the rant. Thanks for sticking around! — is the serious issue of hard-to-find secondary controls on modern automobiles. I’ve written about this a few times, and I’ve never gotten much in the way of positive feedback from readers. Most people are just fine with having to search for their hazard button or their wiper controls or whatever. I think I’m tilting against a windmill here. I’m going to continue to tilt. I think I’m right about it.
The image above makes it plain. This fellow is an absolute marketer’s wet dream: he is remarkably stupid and he can afford a new Mustang. Somebody’s probably trying to clone him en masse as we speak, using saliva recovered from the lip of a can of Monster Energy left in a gutter. He acknowledges that he can’t find his hazard button — but it’s cool, man. He uses the prolespeak neologism ‘smh’ because he just can’t believe I’m such an asshole moron that I think some people can’t find their hazard buttons when they need ’em.
I remind the reader that this fellow’s vote counts the same as yours does.
On the other hand, at least he’s honest enough to admit he’s had the problem. The average Reddit momma’s-basement troll would be just smart enough to avoid admitting that I had any point whatsoever. I’ll take an honest but stupid person over an intelligent sociopath any day. This country won two World Wars by lining up honest but stupid people and having them march directly into enemy fire. So let’s hope that this guy survives the various extinction-level events at Mustang Week long enough to breed. We could use more people like him. You’re heard the phrase, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” but maybe it would be better to ask, “If you’re so smart, how come you ain’t good?”