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Re: <nettime> Capitalism is FINISHED -- As a Result of the Internet!
Jonathan Marshall on Sun, 20 May 2012 17:19:09 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Capitalism is FINISHED -- As a Result of the Internet!


Mark writes lots of interesting things about advertising and his contacts within the advertising industry in response to my question "Still don't know why digital tech is driving this  process...."

the main point of which (forgive me if i'm misreading) is that previously techniques worked and that:

>these techniques do depend more-or-less on a) the attention  of
>the "target" and b) their suspension of "rationality" and c) continued
>"environmental" reinforcement.

However: 

>The WEB directly undermines *ALL* of these requirements.

AS i wrote earlier, i'm doubtful about this - especially given the marketing succes of Apple, and the way that people seem to throw away old phones and tablets in a rush to get the newest Apple thing, which often does not seem to be a necessary improvement. Indeed frequently to me, much cheaper items appear to be indetectably good.  Somehow whenever apple plans to take over the world, or issues faulty products, it gets away with it, to a degree which would seem implausible for say, Microsoft. 

To me this means that at least one company has its advertising right, and either excess consumption or conspicuous consumption of its products is not being diminished by the web, and are being furthered by their connection with 'breakthrough' new media.

Yesterday, in the newspaper 
http://www.smh.com.au/business/how-the-humble-app-is-changing-the-face-of-shopping--and-retailers-20120518-1yvg2.html
I read about how amazon is using a mobile phone app, to demonstrate how much cheaper its prices are than other retailers in the retailers own stores. This together with mobile barcodes and online purchasing, means that you are not limited to purchasing only as much as you can carry. You can buy on impulse continually. That is there are no limits beyond your credit limits. 

"Not surprisingly, the rise of smartphone apps is wreaking havoc on the business models of retailers in the United States". 

"Amazon's sales in the past year were $US48 billion, compared with $US26 billion for Macy's". 

But this is not through the decline of consumerism, or conspicous consumption, merely through the decline of offline spending. this is the consumption is transitioning *to* new media, not being undermined by it.

Indeed it is easy to imagine that the conspicuousness of the consumption will increase, as people compete with their friends, about how many 'essential' goods they can afford

Again the article states, and i have read similar repeatedly, "High-end luxury goods stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel and Nordstrom are thriving with the rise of the internet and mobile. For them luxury is about scarcity, and so discounting is not an issue. It is about customer service and giving customers what they want, when they want"

Massive disparity in wealth increases a focus on the 'luxery' end of the market, where conspicous consumption, consumption about status, rules. Low prices here are coounterproductive. The point is that high prices make things exclusive.

Even so we read about how various mass market stores like walmart are taking to the internet to regain business....

So again, it suggests that consumption is not dying with the internet, just being transferred there.

My own experience suggests that the internet increases my book purchasing massively :(

> [Advertising] cannot force the "viewer" to watch the ad, since the screen also has
>other "more important" material.  

this perhaps automatically makes the advertising subliminal and may increase its effect. A well known hypnotic technique uses distraction of attention while the message is given.

Otherwise why would advertisers pay so much for advertising on sports fields, or on text under the main image, if it did not work well enough.

> It generally requires some level of
>"rational" engagement.  It is inherently *active* and involves TWO-WAY
>communications, which often involve "talking back" to the seller.

I'm not sure how rational exchange online has to be... and again it can function as a distraction while the message is given or repeated or made normal. I'm also thinking of climate change debates here - a lot seem to work by blanketing effects.

>So, to varying degrees with different people, the WEB (i.e. "digital
>media") *breaks* the SPELL that is needed for mass-media (i.e. mostly
>television) to work its consumption-driving MAGIC.

the old mcluhanists all argued that the web makes the world appear more magical, and nothing i see challenges that.

The net may well increase the mess of information, and the paranoic mind set.

and it certainly can reinforce more or less anything (you can surround yourself with whatever you like - how many people here read right wing mailing lists as a matter of course?)

>Furthermore, the notion that arose in the 90s that you could TARGET people
>by using the "click" information that you collect about them has now
>largely been DISCOUNTED as a plausible substitute for mass-media psychological
>games.  It has largely become a stop-loss strategy (i.e. it only works on a
>subset of the audience) and not an expansion/growth one.
>
>This is why General Motors has just announced that they are *dropping* ads
>on Facebook -- right in the FACE of the company's IPO.

Facebook is still massively overvalued on any kind of rational estimate. The valuation is based on hope and monopoly and an expectation of no further developments in social media which cannot be crushed... this irrationality is spread by the new media.

>This is also why the NYTimes has been reporting about the *renewed*
>interest in the TELEVISION "Up Fronts" -- which just a few years ago were  largely
>suspended in favor of "digital media" bundling.

the abandonment of TV by advertisers, if it happened, was based on the magic of the web, maybe rationality is now starting to emerge?

>The ultimate reason why this is all happening is that MOST people aren't
>really as *stupid* (or "behaviorist" or "Freudian") as had been presumed.

Personally i think stupidity is a socially generated fact, and furthered by the mess of information

anyway, you still have to show that the rising chinese and indian middle classes will not engage in conspicous consumption, which i think is improbable, as they will want to distinguish themselves from those who are not 'rising'.

thanks for the argument and ideas

jon

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