The Summer of My Discontent


It’s been a while since I posted here largely because I have been quite vocal in other places – like Ad Age (see Articles/ buzz –

In fact, this has been the summer of my discontent where I rail against the tech drum beat which continues to be deaf to the needs of marketing practitioners’ for practical solutions.

Perhaps because I am a printer’s daughter, I am much more interested in the machinery of marketing than the cool of it all. I am far more passionate about ad tech answering the “Now what” and “So what” questions in the same platform than the algorithm that drives the platform.

Mostly, though I remain aghast at deep the struggle marketers of all stripes are quietly enduring; feeling as though THEY are doing it wrong whilst everyone must be doing it better and more frequently.

Wrong my friends.

My articles in Ad Age in last two months paint a dismal picture of the gap between ad tech and marketers – from SaaS to programmatic buying. I talk about why the precious PESO model doesn’t work. Mostly, I highlight a gulf between ad tech and marketing borne ignorance and fueled by greed.

As 2016 comes to its marketing peak – I remain defiant of an ecosystem that defines itself by what is “tech cool” instead of what is “marketer happy.”

As 2017 comes around – I know our time is at hand because marketing is a trust business. The ad tech “kids” got nothing on us. Time to rise and shine.

Judy Shapiro



Want to understand the essence of Yiddish angst? The secret is revealed in seeing how business leaders inspire.

One of my favorite ex-bosses was fond of saying; “Failure is not an option” when asked about the secret of his success.  His Turkish/ British sensibilities expressed this concept as a statement of fact – unequivocal – no heroics – no bluster … It simply was the reality. It was meant to encourage people to realize that you keep trying until you achieve your goals.

Now while many of us we have heard that expression before, subtly within the phrase lays a wonderful aspirational dynamic. Since failure is not an option – the only other possible outcome is success.   Uplifting, motivational and inspiring. Well done.

Now – here’s the Yiddish version of that sentiment (fyi – I was raised in a Hasidic family speaking mainly Yiddish until I went to school). Mind you, same the net effect is intended, e.g. to encourage people to carry on no matter what, but the difference is how a “Yiddish” CEO would say it which is in a more plaintative “Never surrender” type of sentiment.  In the psyche of the Yiddish (largely traumatic) experience, this sentiment had the same duality that the “Failure is not an option” phrase has but with a key element of angst thrown in. In this mindset, you also had two outcomes. 1) “You surrender” which was understood to mean  you died – either a physical or spiritual death; or 2) “Never surrender” – you managed to lived to see another day. No great vision of glory but simply the ability to go on was success enough.

Same concept – keep going no matter what – but worlds apart in their outlook on life. One uplifts and inspires – the other is satisfied with much less grand results. And in seeing the contrast one can see the entire essence of Yiddish angst.

Me – I like to use both ideas. The “never surrender” gives me a sense of extra urgency and imperative (OK – so I do worry too much) while the “failure is not an option” phrase reminds me of the prize.

I confess though, living is both worlds can confuse at times (just ask my husband or this ex-boss 🙂 .

Judy Shapiro

Is the Internet devolving into a segregated, class-based system?

In the real world, segregation by class or race or age is rightly understood as under utilizing the full potential of people in society. There is universal recognition that people should be free to achieve their highest potential based effort and talent – not on what money they were born with. And this ideal is what we all believe delivers the best humanity has to offer.

Now when the Internet was created barely 20 years ago – it seemed to emerge from a perspective of an open, “democratic” framework where anyone could achieve anything. It leapfrogged over our normal inclination to create a stratified society but allowed unfettered potential to anyone irrespective of class.

The promise of this egalitarian digital society fueled so much hope. In this digital utopia, the thinking went, small ecommerce sites could challenge the big guys. Or anyone from any corner of the world could enrich their mind with a mouse and an online connection. And closed societies could now be opened within this enlightened new world.

While the real world continually and relentlessly divides the world into the “have’s and have nots”, the Internet seemed to have sidestep that whole unsavory dimension of our human nature.

But as the Internet emerges from infancy into maturity, I sense a new dynamic that is subtly introducing segregation into the system. It started when the small ecommerce sites realized that it took more than digital pluck to get ahead in the online ecommerce world since SEO and advertising did cost money.

Then, when Microsoft introduced BING as a “decision engine”, it was another, subtle form of class division. After all, most of the time a decision is only required in a buying process not in true information discovery. And the recent news about Murdoch making his content invisible to Google continues the segregation momentum. No more can news be available for all – but only for those who can pay.

It seems to me see that our digital society is following the sad patterns of our real world societies of info “have’s and have not’s”. It is sad to watch. It is sad to contemplate that in the drive to monetize the Internet; our early ideals of the Internet seemed to have fallen by the wayside.

But there are companies who are fighting this trend and who continue to offer the promise of a free Internet and have innovated to generate revenue while maintaining this ideal. Some great examples include Comodo who offer the best in PC security for free and a social networking company called Houseparty who empower anyone to earn revenue from the Internet legitimately (and without any financial investment).

Can you spell R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N?

Judy Shapiro

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