The new influencer

Do markets respond to the next bright, shiny object?

Kerry Knudsen

ON OCTOBER 8, AdAge put out a “custom white paper” entitled, Podcasters are the new influencers. Pretty special, eh? “The new influencers.” It seems as though the old new influencers barely got here. Who were they, again?

Not to disparage the unveilers. Who would know that podcasters are the new influencers if the kids at AdAge didn’t tell us? And, now that the kids at AdAge have told us, we can bet that a bunch of their classmate, wanna-be-influencers are going to their supervisors at marketingwhateverwheneverdotcom and warning them to dump the old influencers in a hurry; there’s a new influencer in town.

We here at Coverings pay little attention to what marketing kids tell us about influencers. They say what they get paid to say. When we want to know who influences you, we ask you. This is a highly complex strategy, but one most parents know by instinct. The results of our most recent survey are here.

Actually, the AdAge kids are frantic for a new revenue stream because the old revenue streams are drying up. The Globe and Mail recently announced it was going to make millions influencing stupid consumers by introducing a program “to become stronger by refining its programmatic offering and building a platform that drives multiple solutions.” What they mean is to bugger the reader.

However, if you read deeper, you learn that the Globe and Mail, along with the rest of media, has been forced to quit using third-party cookies to track and record citizens. The reader is tired of being buggered, has complained to Parliament and Parliament has complied. The Globe and Mail got a spanking, but, as kids will, has found a loophole.

The CBC tried the same thing. According to Media in Canada on October 9, “Less than one month after it formalized the launch of Tandem, its new branded content unit, the CBC has taken a slight step back….”

The story goes on to say that both Canadian Media Guild national president Carmel Smyth and CBC/ Radio-Canada branch president Kim Trynacity said, “In these critical times when fake news and misinformation are a global threat, we believe the national public broadcaster is uniquely placed to be a leader in safeguarding trust and reliability in our news services, on all platforms.”

The letter went on to say members were “very concerned” about Tandem and its impacts on the CBC’s work and reputation. The statement sought clarity on the service including what kind of safeguards and transparent monitoring processes would be put in place to ensure “unambiguous separation of news and commercial interests.”

Once again, the consumer has made his and her opinions known. The day before the Media in Canada story, the kids at AdAge promoted a new, “custom webcast” to tell advertisers, “How new privacy-compliant advertising regulations can lead to big business opportunities.” Need I say more? They lost the old revenue stream, once again because they couldn’t stop peeping into people’s windows, have to stop looking in the first-storey windows but have figured out how to get a ladder.

On October 13, the kids at AdAge reported that one of the oldest of the new influencers, Facebook, has banned ads that discourage people from getting vaccines. According to AdAge, “Facebook will reject ads that discourage people from getting vaccines, citing a new policy meant to prevent ‘harm’ to public health efforts.”

Personally, I am very pro-vaccine, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about: who the hell does Facebook think it is, and what does “harm to public health efforts” mean? Right now, we have quite a list of failed public health efforts to mock, and mocking may be harming, so I guess censorship without appeal is a new influencer.

All the above examples occurred in the space of a few days. I get them all the time. There are two points to be made: 1) commercial speech is running amok and 2) magazines such as those that actually write for the readers are a dying breed. Instead of influencing the advertisers, we try to inform the audience.

I wonder whether common sense and civility will ever become the new influencer? Let us know and we may podcast it on Facebook without cookies as branded content: Respect.

“Digital” is not new; it is the old, back-alley bully. Except with bullies you usually have their real names. It can’t win without cheating, and apparently is not interested in trying.

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