Predicting the impact of Advertising – Plausible or Improbable?
From the desk of Miles Turtle, Senior Submissions Officer, Patent Office, Department of Intellectual Property
To: Michael Brown, VP of Market Development, Reed Research Group
Dear Mr. Brown,
We regret to inform you that your patent application for the Reed Evaluator for Communication Knowledge (RECK) has been denied. The Patent Office decision was based on the following claims made in your filing.
Isn’t that a little difficult? I mean, my mother-in-law retells Ikea ads like they are family folklore, but you’d never catch her buying “cardboard furniture.” And my brother detests those $40 razors with their “turbo blade action” and “Jedi-plasma glide strips”, but he buys them every month. How can we hope to understand a world where what’s good is bad and what’s bad is good? Your claims on predictability have not been sufficiently supported. Have you confused us with the Ministry of Magic?
If we can’t trust what people say, then let’s take a look under the hood. Brilliant! After all, beta waves can’t lie. The Patent Office was very hopeful when we read this part of your submission. But then we put a EEG cap on our intern and discovered what you were up to. The three step plan is obvious: control the internal world, manipulate the external world, make quantum improvements on real world predictions. Full marks for vision, but please note that the medium, not only the message, influences subconscious responses. Your analysis does not adjust for the type of medium being used tv, mobile, rickshaw. (Seriously, read some McLuhan. Don’t do it on public transportation though. That was shut down for a suspicious activity investigation. Unfortunately our intern boarded the subway still wearing his EEG cap.)
Pointless without context. I can name the current blockbusterit has broken through my carefully constructed defense of too much alcoholbut, I steadfastly avoid seeing it because it is a crap movie, obviously.
This sounds extremely impressive. But on page 35 the RECK application states that “on average a consumer will see 10,000 ads a day”. That’s 3.65M ads a year. So, according to your own statistics, your database represents a fraction of the ads in the marketplace, with a heavy skew to advertising run by companies that use research providers to check advertising before it runs. Basically you have a database of WalMart Rollback ads and are claiming that it represents the market’s vast amount communication and all of its various objectives. That’s like calling an oil change an engine rebuild.
Let me tell you about my carpenter, Jimmy. For 10 years Jimmy played the stock market with the proficiency of Gordon Gecko. Jimmy was a legenda college dropout that traded his measuring tape for ticker tape. His investment system was based on a simple indicator that told him whether the stock market would be up or down that year. But after a decade Jimmy’s indicator failed and he lost everything. His indicator happened to be the winner of the Super Bowl. Specifically, when a team from the original American Football League (AFL) won, the market fell an average of 10%. And when a team from the original National Football League (NFL) won, the market gained an average of 14%. Of course, the correlation between the stock market and the Super Bowl was pure coincidence.
Now, if you’d like this patent approved don’t tell us your results are correlated with sales. Tell us how your results relate to sales. Causation is a whole different ball game from correlation, as Jimmy found out. Good thing he’s a damn good carpenter.
Mr. Brown, we trust this letter has provided the Reed Research Group with great insight into the requirements for obtaining patent protection.
Miles Turtle, Senior Submissions Officer