Battling Musk in the Metaverse, Tips, and a Shocking P.S.

Friends and colleagues,

Like most of you, I am smarter, stronger and much better-looking in the so-called metaverse. In this virtual world, I can translate Greek into French while battling a gargoyle who looks a lot like Elon Musk. My digital doppelgänger has lush, flowing hair and no body fat. And oh yeah, I can lift a Tesla over my head. Even better, I can bank Dogecoin by selling nonfungible tokens of myself eating a digital Dunkin’ donut (no calories!) in augmented reality. Bewildered? You are not alone. The tech cognoscenti are pushing what’s next, but it’s not easy for marketers to determine what’s real and what’s not. Literally. That’s why our ever-vigilant archers are targeting the kinds of innovation that drive your business today. Read on, friends—and you too, colleagues—for some tips to help you navigate all kinds of realities.


  1. How to personalize without personalization. First, an admission: If “appropriating” good ideas was a felony, I’d be serving multiple life sentences. But I’m guessing most marketers are, like me, leading the thug life. Feel me? In any event, this tip was fueled by good work from the folks at Gartner and a few other firms making it easier for the rest of us. In a world where data-protection rules make it harder to consistently serve up one-to-one experiences, there are ways—three of them, to be exact—to personalize content and interaction without the inclusion of explicit data like name, purchase history, etc. Here they are: 1) Use recommender content in the moment. If you are among a group of people looking at a chili recipe, we know you, like them, might want to see a recipe for cornbread as well. 2) Use teaching content. These goodies—how-to videos or step-by-step infographics offered to our would-be chili and cornbread cooks—are designed to help customers learn how your product or service can be used to solve a specific problem or achieve a goal that’s relevant to them. And finally: 3) Cap off user experience with reward content. Show users that they made the right decisions; confirm their bias. Share testimonials and offer discounts and repeat-buyer coupons for coming back for another indigestion-inducing meal.
  2. Persona nine grata. If you haven’t identified the four or five groupings of people and/or organizations who drive 80% of your business and the four or five who clearly don’t, well, you should. Why? Because: 1) You’ll spend a lot less to find them and avoid the “non grata.” 2) With cookies going away and privacy concerns heating up, you will need to consider targeting based on behavioral triggers and topics, since Google is now pinpointing five of searchers’ interests, such as “Fitness” or “Travel & Transportation,” based on web activity. 3) The crazy creative folks love having personae to write and design to. So, need help finding and defining your people? Call us. Gratis.
  3. Content is still king, but page experience is the dashing prince on the rise. This is about organic search, y’all. The Googlers (yes, this is what they call themselves) still hail King Content above all, but their AI-driven algorithms are now giving more weight to what they call “page experience,” which is driven by how quickly your page loads, how quickly interactions happen (i.e., when you click on a button or link) and something mega-geeky called “cumulative layout shift” (CLS), which measures the visual stability of your page and penalizes you for things like pop-ups that keep users from doing what they want (versus what you want them to do). All of this can be measured by a range of tools you can, yep, Google. Or reach out to your favorite archer and we’ll get you aiming higher for your users’ experience.
  4. Beware the Belgians!: How to avoid hefty fines for GDPR and/or CCPA violations. Your first-party data-preferences pop-up may cost you A LOT of money as enforcement of privacy legislation kicks into higher gear. With third-party cookies—code that tracks users—going away in the next couple years, most sites now ask for first-party permission to track your behavior on their site and use that data to customize your experience with them. The problem is that, while many sites ask for your permission, a high percentage of them either don’t give you an option to say no or make it exceedingly complicated for you to do so. Ironically, one of the recent offenders was the ad industry’s own Interactive Advertising Bureau, whose European division was fined €250,000 by the Belgian General Data Protection Authority for not making it transparently easy for visitors to their site to keep their data private. So we recommend that if you ask for permission to cookie your users, you simply and clearly outline ALL of their options and seamlessly allow those who don’t want to be tracked to remain truly anonymous.
  5. Consider a UX Vision Statement. Companies have long had mission and vision statements, well-meaning but usually inside-out, self-serving word salads about where they are going and why. But what if you developed a vision statement as an aspirational articulation of the experience, the feeling, your users and consumers have told you they want when they visit your site or store, use your product or service, or meet you digitally or in person? What if you wrote down and shared that experience vision statement with these same users and showed them exactly how you will deliver what they want and do so better than any other organization in the world? That would make a lot of sense, right? To quote Ben Franklin: ‘Nuf said.
  6. One-line tip (you’ve earned this!). Every so often, send people you like and respect ideas they can use. Why? They’ll remember you and recommend you to others. Trust me, it works…

As always, if I can do anything for you—spitball some ideas, make a connection, share some experience, tell you how to free yourself of your TikTok and/or Wordle addiction—please let me know.

Thanks again for your patient indulgence.


Shocking P.S.:  Even a savvy, worldly, cynical industry vet like yourself is here, sheepishly, reading the fine print.

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