ethical marketing at hyperlocal

date: 2020-07-14

tags: philosophy technology


there are some important and very valid questions that came up in the sub thread about hyperlocal earlier which I would like to address. i'm dumping my thoughts here so I can bring them up more coherently in a member meeting this week. hyperlocal's website[1] lays out a fairly standard marketing strategy. the basic components are:

each of these can be done in a variety of ways, with varying degrees of ethics. we are using this standard formula to provide a framework for our clients to see our strategy through.

1 and 4 are the areas that marketing firms tend to focus on. we have resources available for 2 and 3 to produce really high quality marketing material[2], which is normally left as an exercise to the reader. the ethical questions of 1 and 4 do need to be addressed. let's start by laying out the standard and not very ethical process used by the competition. the selling point of something like adwords is that you can see the efficacy of your marketing dollars. you pay a certain amount per click, add some tracking code to your site, and you can start seeing traffic on your site and tie specific actions to conversions. with this information you can build up a pipeline that converts X USD to Y customers which hopefully recoup the dollars you spent to find them in the first place[3].

1: hyperlocal

2: marketing material

3: data-driven decision making

this type of "marketing funnel" typically converts at less than 10%, typically around 3-5%. 5-10% conversion is considered extremely efficient and is not common. if hyperlocal is going to change anything in this market, we have to be able to beat 3-5% conversion and ideally go upwards of 10% to stay out of reach of the competition. there are some loyalty-based marketing strategies that can convert between 5-8% which are entirely consent-based. companies like citygro and podium provide these types of services, but they can be quite labor intensive and difficult to explain.

circling back to the beginning of the marketing funnel. first, you put up an ad somewhere which attaches an id to the user's browser which is passed through to your analytics system when a user clicks on your ad. this id can be used to tie any transactions to the ad click. these associated data points are used to indicate the success or failure of your marketing strategy. ethically, this type of advertising workflow is a no-go. there isn't much that can be done to fix the model without making conversions plummet. the tracking is only useful when its done quietly without drawing attention to itself. consent-based tracking is possible, but there is a lot more friction and i don't have enough data at hand to say how well it performs. this ties into the general corporate surveillance apparatus which optimizes ads to reach specific people who have been observed having interest in your ad's key words. the tracking code closes the loop for GOOG and you can annotate their data with conversions to get a nice graph and leak additional personal data to the botnet.

surveillance capitalism is extremely profitable, so its important to keep in mind what the "normal" margins and strategies are. they bring up questions that have to be answered if this cooperative is going to be successful. so the challenge is this: how does an online marketing agency provide insight to businesses on the performance of their campaigns without resorting to a corporate surveillance apparatus?

why marketing?

we are starting with marketing because it is a cheap thing to start up and we are all poor. to quote one of the hyperlocal worker-members:

Each phase funds the next, final phase being an ethically sustainable and competitive supply chain for business.

My thoughts are, build up a huge relationship with local businesses doing online marketing, something we could do easily, then down the line start upselling logistics and eventually supply line.

We have the capability to produce media, I have access to millions in camera equipment. We can do Google ads, other ad services and PPC and website creation. We have a lot that sets us apart and makes us 100 fold better than competition.

Plus we will be more competitive on pricing, not greedy.

Our websites will be way more streamlined and personalized, we're not using WordPress like 99% of agencies.

We could have a tag line like "We Grow Local" and market to small businesses who need a marketing team but may not be able to afford a traditional one.

Yet we are way way better than a traditional.


tie marketing campaigns to items, look at graphs for sales of the affected items relative to other store items — @toast[4]

that seems reasonable to me. i wonder if the resolution is sufficient to satisfy marketing clients. we'd at least need some way to back up the assertion that you don't need the extremely invasive processes that are common to the industry to convert effectively.