According to Grewal and Levy, marketing information systems create value for firms and customers. Information is data that crosses a threshold of pattern formation. Here I am thinking of distributed networked databases that interface events up and down the supply and distribution chain. When certain activities become volatile and unpredictable or dense and viscous, then a threshold of organization or circulation is crossed–this is both a threshold relatively stabilizing processes around a given basin of attraction, and a switch for processes of value capture (in the sense that Grewal and Levy understand that phrase). These activities could be patterns of consumption, perception, facebook clicks, habituation, circulation, desire, pleasure, sensation, association, recognition, movement, network mobilization.

Recognizing these patterns, creating innovative strategies for mining, organizing, restructuring, and potentializing these patterns add value to a firm and its customers.

The aim of marketing is to make novel organizations of information yield value. Let us keep focused on certain targets in critical theory. First and foremost is the dialectic. Dialectical criticism, Derridean-oriented social constructivism, epistemology and representational critique most often lead directly to expressing ressentiment, organizing a politics around it, where the aim finally is inclusion into an always already self-same universal. This is part of the logic of cynical reason (see Jones et al, For Business Ethics), for which no new facts can add anything of framework-breaking value. Another force to launch a line of flight: rupture the temporality of cynicism.

Bruno Latour in Reassembling the Social makes clear why Derridean-oriented social constructivism has become a real obstacle to thought itself. Primary among these is the relegation of technology and sensation as supplementary (ha! – thank you Derrida!) to the processes of social circulation, reducing all phenomenon to linguistic, discursive, or representation figurations. This is why social constructivism must itself be overcome through a transvaluation of all values.

Radically thinking media helps us to do just that. The medium changes the correlated processes that constitute a pattern. I have had my first year marketing students at Queen Mary, University of London read McCluhan’s the Medium is the Message. It has the great benefit of cutting through the social constructivist bias of much of contemporary media studies by focusing on the materiality of communication. Technical and bodily capacities are at the heart of this media materialism.

New mediums create new patterns. (Latour’s distinction between intermediaries and mediators is helpful, because it strikes me as an excellent way to think through potentializing processes—innovations, but also when things break down, etc.) When a pattern is habituated this happens through intermediaries of everyday life, it aids in the reproduction of habit, speeds of perception, forms of attention, and the stabilization of strategies of profit maximization. It is worth quoting Latour on the distinction.

An intermediary, in my vocabulary, is what transports meaning or force without transformation: defining its inputs is enough to define its outputs. For all practical purposes, an intermediary can be taken not only as a black box, but also as a black box counting for one, even if it is internally made of many parts. Mediators, on the other hand, cannot be counted as just one; they might count for one, for nothing, for several, or for infinity. Their input is never a good predictor of their output; their specificity has to be taken into account every time. Mediators transform, translate, distort, and modify the meaning or the elements they are supposed to carry…No matter how apparently simple a mediator may look, it may become complex; it may lead in multiple directions which will modify all the contradictory accounts attributed to its role…[I]t is this constant uncertainty over the intimate nature of entities—are they behaving as intermediaries or mediators?—that is the source of all the other uncertainties we have decided to follow. (Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social [London: Oxford University Press, 2005] 39)

New mediums as they pass thresholds of adoption and pervasiveness come to dominance through their new speeds, scale, and patterns. Thus they become full-blown mediators of life: intensively changing the body’s involvement with technology, sociality, values, and sensation. The message then is the medium’s speed, scale, and pattern.

What is marketing’s medium and what is its message? If we define the message as a medium’s speed, scale, and pattern the method of understanding and intervening in marketing’s medium means finding the type, intensity, and connectivity of its speeds, scales, and patterns. When speed, scale, and pattern cross thresholds of organization (i.e. when they themselves form and stabilize around patterned sets) a new system of information is inaugurated, but this can happen and most often does in far from equilibrium conditions across the infinity of scales of becoming. Which means that they are below and beyond human perceptual habits: indiscernible, imperceptible processes correlated through duration and space. We need to return to a notion of becoming that we can actually become with: practice, one continuous mistake, repetitive and yet not fully redundant, because in dynamic systems far from equilibrium, every repetition contains asymptotic indetermination.

The aim of marketing is to successfully intervene in and reorganize new information systems to yield a certain quantifiable value.

What is a marketing information system?
The control of information: its extraction, aggregation, securing, selling, correlating, and timely and effective dissemination
What is private information? How can information be securely private? (This raises the question of what is the private under neoliberal capitalism? Property? Individuality? Creativity? Information?)
Acc. to G&L marketing research should only produce unbiased, factual information – UFI

How to define UFI? Is it a question of true and false?
Every Marketing research initiative (MRI) has an objective and research needs, i.e. a specific perspective
MRIs can be poorly defined (lack of focus, untimeliness, etc.) and poorly designed. Ergo the decisive feature of MRIs is not truth or falsity but importance and value of the criteria used to define its objectives and research needs
All data needs to be interpreted and organized into patterns, some of which exist already due to the self-organizing, non-linear dynamics of ecologies of sensation, but all of which will be reorganized and feedbacked into the dynamic patterns instituted or tweaked (and trademarked) by the firm
Through the process of organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data, new information systems are created that revalue data itself

Ethical “Dilemmas” of Neoliberal Marketing Information Systems
Information is not private, it gravitates towards powerful and dynamic flows of information
Corporations invest in observing and quantifying consumer behavior—Who is watching and why?
Does the product matter? Collecting information for better targeting a population of gamblers for more gambling or how to better a 1000% profit on a new Nike sneaker line—does the object change the MIS? Should it?
Bureaucracies vs. individual decision makers

How to Communicate the Value Proposition?
Create Integrated marketing communications (IMC) to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communicative impact
What is the Process of Communication?
Sender, transmitter, encoding (decoding?), communication channel, receiver, noise, feedback loop
Communication channel defined (contra McCluhan) as the medium that carries the message
How to define information? According to the theory, transmission of the message involved sending information through electronic signals. “Information” in the information theory sense of the word, should not be confused with ‘information’ as we commonly understand it. According to Shannon and Weaver, information is defined as “a measure of one’s freedom of choice when one selects a message”. In information theory, information and uncertainty are closely related. Information refers to the degree of uncertainty present in a situation. The larger the uncertainty removed by a message, the stronger the correlation between the input and output of a communication channel, the more detailed particular instructions are the more information is transmitted. Uncertainty also relates to the concept of predictability. When something is completely predictable, it is completely certain. Therefore, it contains very little, if any, information. A related term, entropy, is also important in information theory. Entropy refers to the degree of randomness, lack of organization, or disorder in a situation. Information theory measures the quantities of all kinds of information in terms of bits (binary digit). Redundancy is another concept which has emerged from the information theory to communication. Redundancy is the opposite of information. Something that is redundant adds little, if any, information to a message. Redundancy is important because it helps combat noise in a communicating system (e.g. in repeating the message). Noise is any factor in the process that works against the predictability of the outcome of the communication process. Information theory has contributed to the clarification of certain concepts such as noise, redundancy and entropy. These concepts are inherently part of the communication process. (http://www.utwente.nl/cw/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Communication%20and%20Information%20Technology/Information_Theory.doc/)
This suggests that the aim of communication is to maximize information transmission reducing the noise and modulating entropy (noise is a subset of entropy), without eliminating “freedom of choice” or uncertainty (building in feedback loops, and interactivity)

AIDA: Awareness, interest, desire, action
What are the aims of AIDA:
Redundancy in and of ads to reduce noise
Invest in probabilistic communications that are measurable statistically given a population
Push interest level past a certain threshold of attention (accentuating and mobilizing intensive difference)
‘Drive’ the consumer to action
This is a non-linear process: time lag, noise, proliferation of non-controllable feedbacks

Integrated marketing communications work through media assemblages
Complex networks of cross-platform, and feedbacked processes that involve technologies, code, perception, memory, sensation, energy, information, and capital
Although the explicit assumption in marketing textbooks is that the sign is a transparent carrier of a message, marketing communications process involve a complex correlation between populational bodies, their capacities to affect and be affected, and semiotic and intensive signification
The aim, in short, is to ask strategically not what a message means but what it does?

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Comments
  1. nik says:

    Very interesting post. I am just happy to say that I am glad that I read it and will continue to check out any upcoming blogposts here.

    Keep up the good things going on here,

    /Nik

  2. You made some decent points there. I looked
    on the web to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.

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