Ready For A New Round of Marketing’s Favorite Game?

Ready For A New Round of Marketing’s Favorite Game?

It’s that time of year where we shake off all of the old buzziest catch phrases and replace them with a new crop of gloriously over-used (and more than a few mis-used) buzzwords. If we were staring in a movie, the moment these words were uttered, we would look at the camera and give a wink accented with a CGI glimmer/sparkle that lets the audience in on the joke.

That’s right marketing party people: It’s time for Buzzword Bingo!

These are just a couple of the words I feel/fear will be over-used, randomly peppered into corporate descriptions and ubiquitous across LinkedIn profiles everywhere.

“Addressable” – remember when addressable TV was going to be all the rage back in 2017? 2019 might just see a comeback. Addressable VOD, addressable TV, addressable OTT… regardless of location, we will continue to talk about cracking the code of measuring TV investments and targeting television by applying data. But here’s my cynical snip: addressable TV isn’t new. Attempting to deliver relevant advertising and content across networks, devices and set top boxes is not new. But darn it we are going to talk about the concept as if it is a new planet north of the dwarf planet formerly known as the real planet Pluto. 

“Intelligence-Driven” – so long data-driven marketers… something more evolved is here. Presumably, the intelligence-driven marketer has taken mere “data” and turned it into something even better… more spectacular…making that individual more hirable. But again… as I am a sarcasm-driven marketer… are you really a marketer today if you are NOT data- and intelligence-driven? Marketers are as tied to - and driven by - data as finance is driven by money. You know a concept has reached a critical mocking point when a Netflix romantic comedy character utters the line, “We need to reassess the data-driven marketing KPIs before launching.” Do we really need to tell someone we are data-driven or intelligence-driven? If I’m not data- or intelligence-driven, am I really a marketer? My take: A lion doesn’t have to roar to prove it’s a lion.

“Blockchain” – right up front… Blockchain is a real thing not asking to be a buzzword. In a “for dummies” version, Blockchain allows data to be exchanged, agreed upon by both parties involved, and can’t be monkeyed with. According to the IAB, “new transactional use cases are emerging for blockchain such as buying and selling digital or advanced TV ad inventory, fraud prevention, white listing authorized sellers of inventory, campaign reconciliation, enabling use of smart contracts to simplify the IO process, validating advertising assets, etc.” While we are still waiting as the entire business world is waiting to better understand blockchain outside of its current sound-byte as the backbone for crypto-currency. Just get ready for lots of “based on blockchain” or “blockchain-based” solutions. It will be like tagging “gluten free” on a bag of ice…and it will muddy the waters for IT conversations that should be had around security, data, transparency and trust.

“Purpose” – I recently read a definition of a purpose-driven brand: “Where the organization has consciously placed its ‘Why’ front and center.“  So… a good, old-fashioned mission statement? The sarcasm troll that lives in my brain (I picture her living under a bridge next to a “data-lake”) is loosing her mind. When someone asks, “have you undergone a workshop to identify your brand purpose?” my troll wants to shout, “OHHHHHH Yeah, we thought long and hard and our purpose is to make money…GOBS OF IT…any questions? Here, hold my messaging architecture.” I really do get it…there has to be position, a central vision, mission and narrative that is bigger and more enveloping than a product pitch. It is called a BRAND! But by rebranding “brand” into “purpose,” I have to wonder if we are just turning the whole conversation into a feel-good buzzword?

“Artificial Intelligence” – I’ve saved this one for last because this is the one that frustrates me THE MOST. At the moment, we are swirling in a word tsunami of machine learning, deep learning and AI. Some would have you believe AI is a nefarious being out to take over all the jobs of human kind, possibly banding together with apes to become the ruling class in a horrifying mashup of Hal and Cornelius. Others would have you believe it is a fully-baked, 100 percent tested and proven solution that will solve any and all problems. Neither extreme is totally true. AI’s truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, it could replace certain job tasks that within a marketing team, no human I know will ever miss doing (hello hours of image tagging and standardization!). And yes, it will solve numerous problems marketers and businesses at large have had to face specific to crunching, organizing and actioning on the massive stores of structured, unstructured, dark and filthy data. But here is the problem. All those terms in the word swamp are NOT INTERCHANGABLE. While machine learning and deep learning are certainly involved in AI, machine learning is not necessarily cognitive in nature and not considered to be AI. Yet everyone and their mother seems to have an “AI-driven” solution these days.  And that doesn’t even start me on the issues around bias that we still have to work out. We aren’t going to see the AI band wagon slow. AI is going to be a valuable and powerful tool…now we just need the real AIs to please stand up?

That’s all I have the patience to outline…and as we all know Buzzword Bingo can be played until the end of time. But just because my sarcasm-troll is ready for a nap, you don’t have to hold back. What are your buzzword predictions? Share them in the comments and we can laugh and roll our eyes into 2019 together!

To you and all of yours, here’s to a happy and healthy New Year.

Until 2019!



@lizkmiller on Twitter

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