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  • 08.13.09

The Metrics of Annoyance

Does annoying marketing really pay off in the short or long run? How do we measure this? Who says what’s annoying and what’s not? These are the questions swirling around the metrics of annoyance.

Annoyance

But
the opposite has been on my mind lately. Annoying people mercilessly pestering
you online, on the phone, or in your face. Not taking no (or “NO!!”) for an
answer. The hard sell. Spamming. Auto DMs on Twitter that are all about @them
and their latest fantastic e-book or whatever–not at all about @you. Tweeting
with Bots! The slick, ingratiating, grating: “What’s it going to take for me to
get you [to toss your money away on my product/service you don’t need or want
right now]?”

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Why do these worst practices persist!?
Does this behavior pay in the long or short run? In order to find answers, I’ve
been exploring what I call the “Metrics of Annoyance.”

The
metrics of annoyance is about seeking real measurement of the effectiveness of
a given annoying marketing practice. Spamming is the most prime of examples. The
practice of spamming has of course been maligned, derided, and otherwise
tisk-tisked since the very first male enhancement notice was sent to your AOL
account back in the deep mists of time. Yet spam is around, and here to stay.
It clogs your inbox and gives gainful employment to anti-spam code developers
at McAfee. Josh Catone has done a great job describing why spammers keep doing
their thing. (read Josh’s post here) With an abysmal .000008 response rate–one in 12.5 million–it still is
evidently enough of a payoff from a relatively inexpensive marketing method. So
for spam, the metric is one in 12.5 million. Note to the one: click “delete” please, and let
the rest of us get on with our lives!

Izea is among the latest to dip its toes into the metrics of annoyance (has been
treading water in it for years according to many). Izea has begun a
pay-per-tweet program on Twitter, with regular folks posting 140 character “sponsored
tweets.” When I heard about it last week, I thought, I understand that. No big
deal. Then I saw one of my friends’
sponsored posts. Annoying. Channel surf to avoid the stupid commercial
annoying. As Spike Jones of Brains on Fire puts it in a recent blog post, “You’re paying people to talk about you.
Paying them. In the vast majority of cases, there’s no quality of content
there. It does not matter to me that they can say what they want about their
“sponsor’s” product. If you have to get paid to talk about something, I’m
immediately going to question your motivation, which I’ll assume is cash.” That’s
exactly my reaction when I see a sponsored tweet. What are the metrics on
pay-per tweet? Izea has been paying people to blog for some years now, (and
receiving plaudits from the likes of Forrester Research) so evidently the metrics are working for them, enough to dive into the pay per
tweet action. But for many of us, this is another sad day in the marketing
world.

These
practices will persist, no doubt. The Metrics of Annoyance, no matter how
miniscule the ROI turns out to be, will be with us always. Is it a personality
thing? I don’t know. I’m not posturing this as a “good” versus “evil” battle
for the soul of people who buy things. This is a discussion of what are Best Practices
and what are Worst Practices. Being kind, being genuine, being human, these
traits are the win-win bedrock on which best practices are grounded. That’s the ground I want to be standing on in my own work. How about you?

About the author

Having the time of my life! I'm the owner of an outdoor recreation and adventure travel business.

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