I recently turned 54. Big deal I know – because the 50s are the old 30s…yada yada. However a few things happened that have bemused me. First up I got a lovely message from my good friend Florence. Yes that’s right Florence from Florence and the Machine wishing me the very best on my special day. The lack of warmth in the digital ‘happy birthday’ I have to say left me a little cold. A few years back the self-acknowledged marketing gurus (I’m not talking Kotler or Jain here), you know the ones – the buff young headset wearing sales evangelists trying to get you to sell them their pen back, spoke as if they had seen a vision. That vision, when you pared it back, was the concept of mass customisation. We would, they opined, see a range of products and messages targeted directly at us. Things we needed, things we wanted and things we didn’t even know we needed. And then I got Florence’s message and I thought to myself. Shit! Is that it? Is that what we paid all that money for to go to those seminars. For the first time that I can recall, the social media phenomenon has enabled the young to surpass the old. Post 50 you are clearly not ‘hip’ enough to click with the whole social media thing. Strange really seeing Gen Z are leaving Facebook in their droves because it is being hijacked by their parents. Yes we ‘oldies’ get it! When you boil down social media it is a form of marketing/advertising which, simply put, is just selling some or all of your products to some or all of the people. With the sophistication that Facebook and Google have to look at your habits on line through surfing or social media, the web experience is now one constantly peppered with adverts that are far more annoying than enticing. It is the content of the adverts though that is really irritating given we now know that they are ‘customised’. So I’m over 50 – does that really have to mean I need the miracle stomach flattening system. That ad is so bad you can see that the before and after photos are of different people. Do all pharmaceutical marketers think that because I am male and over 50 I have ED? How about some meaningful health messages encouraging regular prostate examinations? None to be seen. The business models of Google and Facebook are such that mass micro-billing is essential in the delivery of profit and to meet shareholder expectations. Strangely, when it comes to our own endeavours to mass customise at work, our results have been mediocre. Perhaps the small amount involved means that the attitude is ‘oh well it didn’t work that well this time let’s try something different next time’. The danger here of course is ending up with the Ferrari built one wheel at a time. Marketing companies must concentrate on money paid and income generated – by and for the client. It is simply not good enough for the ‘analybabble’ (my word for the analytics that sit behind social media which apparently justify their costs). I don’t really care what my bounce rate is, or how long someone lingered on my company website. I want to see a correlation between the money I am paying for social media and a concomitant increase in sales. Not that helpful to be ‘liked’ by a demographic who have no interest in what you are selling, or influencing others to buy what you are selling. Same as it ever was as far as marketing/advertising is concerned. I’m a realist. I know we can’t turn back time, but we must get more savvy with our customisation. I really want to be delighted, but targeting me with funeral plans isn’t going to do it. Get Florence to ring me and invite me out for coffee. Now that would impress me!