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Discussions about the fashion industry thread

LA Guy

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A lot of clients are starting to bring this stuff in house. There was a big shake out a few years ago of media agencies ginning up the numbers. The platforms do it as well.
Bringing it in house often doesn't help, tbh. There is less overt dishonesty and money grabbing. Frankly, for the companies that I've worked with, the office politics are not as vicious as that article portrays (note that I've never worked with a huge company - marketing is often just a few people, sometimes half a dozen to a dozen). It's really simply lack of knowledge. There is often a fair bit of know how, but that's simply knowing how to pull the levers. Unfortunately, for the firms that I've worked with, they don't have the budget to hire a real data scientist - someone with a PhD level understanding, or at least a good Masters level understanding, of statistical analysis and datasets/data-analysis. And even if you do, that doesn't guarantee that that person hasn't been completely seduced by the game, either. Most of the time, you have people doing the best that they can do, and learning on the fly, and if the prevailing wisdom is that the metric one must look at is CPM, or CPA, or more lately, visibility (you guys can blame that shit for the video ads that follow you on news sites), they are most likely going to key in on that, and publishers are going to follow the money.

Marketers running large campaigns have a lot to think about, and numbers are easy. You look at a matrix, and things seem just easier to think about and digest. So it's easy to become so very focused on hitting their goals in terms the latest metric that they really, really, forget to think about how human beings actually function.

It doesn't take a brain trust to figure out that annoying video ads with audio that block visibility of the content (something all out video ad agencies will swear their system can 100% avoid) will not get people to really "engage" more with it, other than frantically trying to find the nearly invisible, highly camoflaged "X" that must be somewhere on the page. But... your visibility scores are high, nearly 100%!, and the time spent in "engagement" gets higher and higher as you make that X harder and harder to find, so... every one is happy.
 

bamgrinus

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I think the lack of understanding of current theory (and a lack of real professional development) is a major issue all over the business world. I recall coming out of business school, having been taught a lot of things which were framed, "This was the old way of doing it, but no one does that anymore, because this way is obviously better." And guess what? You graduate, and the old way is still being done all over the place. Management has maybe never heard of the new way...or, it's just too hard to change the existing process. Trying to change processes that are obviously broken is why Six Sigma and its like was such a fad, but it became more about buying into the cult (and people trying to make money off of training for it) than actually achieving those goals. And then you have college grads coming out and making the same observations and wondering why management is so stupid to keep using old, obviously broken methods. I'm sure that this is responsible for a lot of the Millennial/Gen-Z resentment towards Boomers. I also think this sort of thing is behind why companies that were great and known for their innovation stagnate. Compare Google today to what it was 10 or 15 years ago. Managers don't want to change how things are done as they rise up in the ranks. They either don't understand the new methods, or just want to protect their own positions by leading the company to use the stuff that they have experience in. I always think corporate conspiracy theories are funny, because anyone who's experienced a large corporation from the inside should realize that large corporations are just not that competent...they largely run their business and make profit purely on momentum.
 

Mariokartfever

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Something that reinforces the above is that, for publicly traded companies at least, management is most focused on one-year out, tops. Sometimes only one quarter out. The thought of implementing management changes that could take years to finalize then take effect when Q4 numbers are sagging is a hard mindset to get into.
 

Todd Shelton

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I never worked at an advertising firm, but I did work with very large datasets and very complex systems, and having spoken with numerous data analysts (they are by and large not scientists) and marketing executives, I can say with a high degree of certainty that most of them don't really understand the very limited nature of statistics and data analysis and the very human element of interpreting the results.

I help run the ads for several sites other than this, and yeah, as a publisher, you have to play the game when it comes to display advertising. The apparatus is simply too strong. You can't risk your own add other people's money out of some intellectual principle. I talk to those who will listen, but it's mostly just that, talking.
I'll definitely listen. Where would you spend - and how much would you spend - on digital advertising for a small, independent men's clothing brand? And as if it were your money? Generally speaking, I know a lot of variables can play into where and how much a brand will spend.
 

bamgrinus

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One of my favorite corporate conspiracies is the idea that there's a cure for cancer but companies are sitting on it because it's more profitable to treat cancer. Bitch, if there were a cure for cancer, the current CEO would take it, ride the sales while collecting the ridiculous bonuses, and retire the day the patent expired while flipping off their successor.
 

dieworkwear

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This discussion is starting to feel like people patting themselves on the back for being smarter than the average marketing exec, but still offering little more than the same mumbo jumbo on how to successfully market a business.

I don't know if anyone knows how to successfully market a product. I don't work in the advertising business, but my guess is that case studies just leads to more sound "best practices." That doesn't give you some formula you can apply everywhere, just a way to think about how to achieve your goals.

My own field is studying economic development in poor countries. There are case studies on how to grow, but they're often so historically defined and about very specific situations/ advantages. It doesn't mean that a place like Zimbabwe can implement Chinese export policy. It just means you have a better understanding of development policy if you know about some historical cases, so you're not making completely dumb decisions.

Anyone who thinks they can apply "spend this here, spend that there" to every business seems like they're ignoring how every business is likely different. If you're just randomly buying Google ads, what can you expect?
 

clee1982

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I'll definitely listen. Where would you spend - and how much would you spend - on digital advertising for a small, independent men's clothing brand? And as if it were your money? Generally speaking, I know a lot of variables can play into where and how much a brand will spend.
think LA Guy is talking about misinterpreting statistics (happens in every field, engineering included), so you probably have to show some data to start with...
 

Todd Shelton

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think LA Guy is talking about misinterpreting statistics (happens in every field, engineering included), so you probably have to show some data to start with...
I read the conversation as being about online advertising - and statistics are a part of it.

If I come across someone who helps run ads for several sites, including a men’s clothing site for over 10 years - and they say they’re willing to talk about it. I’d be happy to ask a couple of questions and listen. I spend money on online advertising, I'm always curious about other peoples experiences and opinions on it.
 

dieworkwear

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[puts on a fake mustache and glasses, deepens voice]

"I think you should advertise on Die, Workwear"

[a man with a blonde wig emerges from behind me, looks awfully like Fok, but has a higher-pitched voice]

"Actually I think you should be a StyleForum affiliate"
 

LA Guy

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This discussion is starting to feel like people patting themselves on the back for being smarter than the average marketing exec, but still offering little more than the same mumbo jumbo on how to successfully market a business.

I don't know if anyone knows how to successfully market a product. I don't work in the advertising business, but my guess is that case studies just leads to more sound "best practices." That doesn't give you some formula you can apply everywhere, just a way to think about how to achieve your goals.

My own field is studying economic development in poor countries. There are case studies on how to grow, but they're often so historically defined and about very specific situations/ advantages. It doesn't mean that a place like Zimbabwe can implement Chinese export policy. It just means you have a better understanding of development policy if you know about some historical cases, so you're not making completely dumb decisions.

Anyone who thinks they can apply "spend this here, spend that there" to every business seems like they're ignoring how every business is likely different. If you're just randomly buying Google ads, what can you expect?
I would agree with you, at least on the substantive parts of your answer. I do think that statistics are better as checks on poor decision making or as a initial discussions starter, but I've rarely seen a good example of "data driven decision making".

I'll definitely listen. Where would you spend - and how much would you spend - on digital advertising for a small, independent men's clothing brand? And as if it were your money? Generally speaking, I know a lot of variables can play into where and how much a brand will spend.
think LA Guy is talking about misinterpreting statistics (happens in every field, engineering included), so you probably have to show some data to start with...
Sorta. I am cautioning against the blind use of statistics and data analysis in general.

I think that as a general take home, my advice would be to spend more money on people and FTE, and less time and resources playing the numbers game.

Just to put my money where my both is, here is something that we have done, and then an example of something I've seen done by a pretty successful small company in menswear.

1) Styleforum buys google adwords. However, as we sell nothing, it's futile to compete with companies who sell stuff. They can afford much more for say "Saphir" or "Saphir shoe products". Plus, those search terms are generally used by people looking to purchase, or at best, read reviews prior to purchasing. Since we sell no Saphir products, we can't compete with those buyers. We also don't want to buy adwords on terms where Styleforum already scores high organically, and where the engagement metrics (time spent on page, pageviews, return visits) are already good. So, instead, we buy long tail searches that would be used by people looking for advice or discussion on the use of Saphir products, and where Styleforum scores high organically, but where the engagement metrics are low. In other words, google directs them to us, but whatever content they click on is not useful, in a bad format, or is simply the wrong page in a rather long thread. So, maybe "Saphir shoe renovation results". We then direct them to a specific, useful post, or an article with the user generated content put into a more usable form. We do look at the numbers again, but really, to see if the articles are worth investing in, or whether the forum post is just as, or more, likely to result in engagement. Sometimes it's a basically a toss up, in which case, we do the less expensive thing, and send peoiple to the post, other times, the articles are less engaging, so that's a dumb use of money, and sometimes, the articles are "better", at which point we have to decide how much "better" things must be to spend resources makiing articles. It's never clearcut, and a lot of human judgement is needed.

2) There is a company that invests quite a lot in forums, outreach to enthusiast sites, reddit conversations and subreddits, etc... This is where they engage, re-engage, and re-re-engage customers. The content, unlike a google adword, is pretty much permanent, and it keeps on reaping dividends. To support this, they have a fairly large group of sales persons, who are given X number of existing customers, and Y number of leads, with notes about their past purchases, their preference in color, fit, and category, and also, their prefered mode of communication, whether that be a phone call, a text message, Styleforum's private conversations, reddit's conversations, whatsapp, google hangouts, facebook messenger, etc... when say, new shirting becomes available, this is broadcast on the various forums and discussed, and at about the same time, the salespeople go to work, "Hey John, we just got some new chambray in, I think that you might like the PoW one, and it would go with your blue grey suit from a few months ago. You interested? Maybe you'd like to get a swatch and then decide? The swatches are $5 just becaue of shipping, but you get that back if you decide to buy just one shirt, so it's a good way to figure out if you really like it." It's high touch, not very numbers sexy, but it does make use of technology in a smart way. I think that they also do some advertising on Instagram, to get new customers, and when those customers have made a purchase, or maybe if they are somewhat hesitant to buy from a company sight unseen, they are directed to say, a Styeforum thread, or a @dieworkwear review, or a subreddit, or all of the above. Everything works well in conjunction. It's a smart, well conceived, and rather successful strategy. They are not ignoring data analysis, but it's nor really "data driven decison" either.
 
Last edited:

London

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This discussion is starting to feel like people patting themselves on the back for being smarter than the average marketing exec, but still offering little more than the same mumbo jumbo on how to successfully market a business.

I don't know if anyone knows how to successfully market a product. I don't work in the advertising business, but my guess is that case studies just leads to more sound "best practices." That doesn't give you some formula you can apply everywhere, just a way to think about how to achieve your goals.

My own field is studying economic development in poor countries. There are case studies on how to grow, but they're often so historically defined and about very specific situations/ advantages. It doesn't mean that a place like Zimbabwe can implement Chinese export policy. It just means you have a better understanding of development policy if you know about some historical cases, so you're not making completely dumb decisions.

Anyone who thinks they can apply "spend this here, spend that there" to every business seems like they're ignoring how every business is likely different. If you're just randomly buying Google ads, what can you expect?
There’s not one silver bullet. A lot of clients have over invested in digital as Adidas recently have come
How did this transition go for you? Something I've been considering for a few years down the road.
I’ve been in and out of agencies and now on my own for the last 5 years. My wife came from the client side and we work together working with some great brands and client organizations. Clients are a lot more amenable to people like us. We do brand strategy and we can come from the outside and push them while working as extension of their teams, while bringing and outside, culturally rich perspective. It ain’t easy, but it beats agency life any day.
 

London

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There’s not one silver bullet. A lot of clients have over invested in digital as Adidas recently have come

I’ve been in and out of agencies and now on my own for the last 5 years. My wife came from the client side and we work together working with some great brands and client organizations. Clients are a lot more amenable to people like us. We do brand strategy and we can come from the outside and push them while working as extension of their teams, while bringing and outside, culturally rich perspective. It ain’t easy, but it beats agency life any day.
Plus we have a ton of flexibility for our kids and family. We pick the clients that we want to work with, not the other way around. It’s not fear based with that master, slave dynamic that I saw in a lot of agencies.
 

London

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Bringing it in house often doesn't help, tbh. There is less overt dishonesty and money grabbing. Frankly, for the companies that I've worked with, the office politics are not as vicious as that article portrays (note that I've never worked with a huge company - marketing is often just a few people, sometimes half a dozen to a dozen). It's really simply lack of knowledge. There is often a fair bit of know how, but that's simply knowing how to pull the levers. Unfortunately, for the firms that I've worked with, they don't have the budget to hire a real data scientist - someone with a PhD level understanding, or at least a good Masters level understanding, of statistical analysis and datasets/data-analysis. And even if you do, that doesn't guarantee that that person hasn't been completely seduced by the game, either. Most of the time, you have people doing the best that they can do, and learning on the fly, and if the prevailing wisdom is that the metric one must look at is CPM, or CPA, or more lately, visibility (you guys can blame that shit for the video ads that follow you on news sites), they are most likely going to key in on that, and publishers are going to follow the money.

Marketers running large campaigns have a lot to think about, and numbers are easy. You look at a matrix, and things seem just easier to think about and digest. So it's easy to become so very focused on hitting their goals in terms the latest metric that they really, really, forget to think about how human beings actually function.

It doesn't take a brain trust to figure out that annoying video ads with audio that block visibility of the content (something all out video ad agencies will swear their system can 100% avoid) will not get people to really "engage" more with it, other than frantically trying to find the nearly invisible, highly camoflaged "X" that must be somewhere on the page. But... your visibility scores are high, nearly 100%!, and the time spent in "engagement" gets higher and higher as you make that X harder and harder to find, so... every one is happy.
Clients are waking up to the fact that digital is a tool, (a powerful one at that), amongst many. When digital starting coming in big into the agency and marketing world, a lot of money was waisted on clients buying and being sold shiny objects that weren’t right for their brands and businesses. Clients like Adidas recently admitted that they over invested in digital. Smart marketers like P&G are reinvesting monies into TV and Billboards which drive big ROI. These platforms and channels need to work in a connected way with each other to create a bigger experience. There is no silver bullet. There is no guaranteed best practice. There is no certainty. If someone tells you there is...they are full of shit.
 

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