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Just One Question for Vivian Selbo
Apr 08, 1998 :: Michael Sippey

On Monday, Vivian Selbo, the former director of adaweb, took me to task for last week's installment in the One to One Future series, where I postulated that the culture of 'The Daily Me' will not only lead to the displacement of the creators of mass culture, but also the creators of micro culture, that is, fine artists. Vivian, it seems, wanted to get to the bottom of what I was up to with all this 1:1 nonsense, and asked a good question...

VS: Michael, are you serious?

MS: Yes, I am serious. And no, of course I'm not serious.

There is plenty of talk, and plenty of hype, about the possibilities of the one to one future. The news this morning that Microsoft is in talks to acquire collaborative filter provider Firefly will only increase the noise level surrounding one to one marketing. As both a "columnist" and a "marketer," I am using the one to one series to force myself to explore potential scenarios of how this technology could be used. I want to understand what could happen if data mining technology, personalized content and distributed media were all pushed to excess.

But of course, this excess is also, in most cases, illogical. I am not taking into account either the will of consumers (stronger than most marketers imagine) or the sixth force of government intervention when I write about the potential for personalized selling copy culled by natural language processing. Or tying the Safeway club card to your health insurance premiums. Or, of course, the precarious state of the fine artist.

Targeted advertising is already here. As is targeted content, targeted commerce, data warehousing, data mining, etc. etc. And, of course, it's going to get "worse." And, of course, it's going to get "better." I'm not interested in making normative statements about whether the future will be "bad" or "good," only in exploring potential scenarios and leaving that decision up to the reader.



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