Cacophony Leads to Conclusions

They come from far-flung places, such as Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Denmark, and from closer to home — Canada, Mexico, and all over the U.S. They work at conglomerates, such as Procter & Gamble, Reebok, Accenture, ValueClick and DoubleClick, and at scrappy start-ups. Who are they? They’re you, of course — the ClickZ Readers.

ClickZ has always been known for thought-provoking, forward-thinking columnists, but the feedback in our inboxes attests to astounding wisdom out there on the other side of the browser. That’s why we’re showcasing some of the most thoughtful responses to our columns in our new Reader Feedback section, which officially launches today.

One of the most rewarding things for me, as member of the Internet advertising and marketing world over the last few years, has been the overwhelming sense of human community people in the industry share. One Internet-era neologism is “co-opetition.” The environment was such that cooperating with your competition to develop the space was more important than jockeying for dominance. “Internet advertising works!” we proclaimed with one voice.

A harsh economic climate has intensified competition — and brought about the mergers of some former competitors — but a shared purpose remains. Plenty of issues still must be addressed, from defining an impression to deciding whether impressions should even be the currency of media sales. In email marketing, list collection practices incite heated debate.

Setting aside these big-picture issues, the nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day questions are especially critical. We’re not living in a perfect world so we ask ourselves: Given the technologies and resources available, how can I do the best job for my clients and my company? For example, when is the best time to send out an email marketing message? For so long, the answer was, “It depends.” Now, with experience, we’re coming to some conclusions. If you read Heidi Anderson’s Email Marketing Case Studies column, you’d learn that for a consumer-oriented company, Tuesdays or Wednesdays might generate the best response; for a restaurateur, the answer may be the morning before a special dinner promotion is unveiled.

Many such questions remain unanswered. The only way to learn is through experience. The more you experiment, the more conclusions you reach. You share your experience, someone else shares his, and we finally come to some conclusions that we can put to work.

At the risk of sounding sappy, let me remind you of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. (Finally, those hours in a stuffy Columbia classroom come in handy!) These guarantees of freedom are primarily meant to ensure that critics of the government have the means to voice (sometimes warranted) complaints, but it is also an expression of the idea that the best conclusions are reached through discourse.

In the words of former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.”

ClickZ is about practitioners speaking to other practitioners. The hope is the cacophony of voices will eventually lead to practicable solutions. We hope you’ll add your voice to the din!

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