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The head of luxury at Facebook and Instagram (nytimes.com)
86 points by JumpCrisscross 45 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 95 comments

When I was growing up, my father used to say "Why do you want to pay for a shirt and then have them turn you into a billboard with the logo on the chest pocket?" It was silly at the time, but I always recall it when I see people buying luxury goods from Dior, LV, Chanel, etc. Luxury goods to my father was his collection bespoke suits from his favorite tailor to whom he was a customer but also a good friend. This wasn't on Savile Row or some haute fashion boutique in New York, but in a small town where I grew up. There was a direct... human connection between the consumer and the buyer. There is something to be said about craftsmanship-based luxury goods and services without the pretense of big-corp brand names, analytics, extravagant showrooms and marketing campaigns.

Yeah but a large and valid function of luxury goods is wealth signalling. You might find this lamentable but it has practical social utility.

Custom tailor clothes is very high signaling: either you have the education to notice, and hence you will give points to the person for having taste, or you won't, but the perfect cut will make it's effect anyway.

Branding is the opposite of signaling for anybody with a bit of money, or somebody who has been educated in an environnent filled with art and science.

It depends on who you're speaking to. Old vs new money, etc.

Can you elaborate what new and old money means?

In my view, status symbols and signals exist at each wealth tier, i.e. from lower class, middle class and the bourgeoisie, to the upper extreme of billionaires.

Brand name and brand recognition persists not only in vertical hierarchy but also in horizontal sub cultures within the same wealth class (e.g. Supreme which has its roots in SB culture).

The old european rich families will never wear anything with a logo. But the daughter of an emirate family that got rich during the last century may travel with 20 suit cases with logos on them.

This is still value signaling for both. It's just that when 20 generations lived in castles, showing off money is considered bad taste and uneducated.

In fact, a typical signal is having expensive things, but not caring that you have them. Some do that by not showing them off. Others displays that by showing them off, but treating it like it is disposable.

From what I understand of the matter, in terms of a generalised distinction the two differ on how they signal their wealth and their behaviour amongst peers.

Old money is wealth that has been sustained through several generations - Traditional aristocracy, and families who own classically successful businesses going back hundreds of years those would be the sort of people who one would describe as old money.

The wealth signalling these families and people display are items that tend to be less "showy" or overt. The perception of a quality or well made item is more important than the brand name behind it.

New money is wealth that has accumulated within a generation or two from families who are not traditionally wealthy - Tech Millionaires, Arabian Oil Barons, Russian Oligarchs and the like would all come under this heading.

The wealth signalling by New Money tends to be more overt than with old money - there can be the perception that the items they purchase and flaunt around are to signal that indeed they have money and are willing to spend it. one could even argue it's as if to prove a point

a classic exploration on the conflict of Old Money vs New Money is in the novel The Great Gatsby.

see also the term Nouveau Riche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouveau_riche

There's a big selection effect, I would imagine - if you are "old money" and start doing the kind of flouting your wealth that "new money" folks would do, pretty soon you won't be "old money" anymore.

I'm not sure about that. Each time I see someone with those things I tend to assume they're in debt than in credit. My gf's dad complains about his debt then spends his money on Bose sound and yells at his kids for taking up all the money.

I really just straight up don't trust people who value these and I also don't feel like making a human connection to them either. If I see someone in a bespoke suit and wearing it properly, I nod my head.

It feels almost like seeing a good beard. You wouldn't buy a Gucci beard to be put on like a fake mustache. You'd have to groom it and take care of it on your own for months. Apologies for the odd comparison but it's needed to add a deeper contrast.

"Luxury" goods shouldn't be a sign of status as they're often toxic. Buy what you think actually does the job and solves the problem.

yes, everything is signaling. If you get a brandless tshirt, you are also signaling that you are too smart to buy the luxury brand.

Everyone above some margin of income indulges in a consumption of luxury goods. I don't see how wearing a cheap t-shirt but driving a good car or playing Playstation sitting on a comfy expensive couch is smarter than buying a pair of expensive sneakers.

It's just signalling to your crowd.

Form and Function.

If I can find clothing that functions just as well as logo'd versions, but for less money, then that makes sense.

With cars, gaming consoles, etc., there's a valid reason to want to spend more money if you're looking for function. PlayStation has games that you can't find on other consoles, or maybe you just like the controller better.

The car I drive is more expensive than I need, but I didn't spend the money to signal anything to anyone. I bought it because it has features the alternative doesn't.

If those expensive sneakers do their job better, then great. But if you're dropping $500 on a limited edition, just for the design, then it's a different calculation. (I am NOT saying it's stupid to do this, just differentiating it from buying features vs. design)

Clothes have aesthetics function. I love my Chloe dresses, how they made, how they look and feel aka they make me happy. I'm yet to find similar dresses in mass market or even just in other brands.

Most people who buy expensive clothing are actually doing it as a hobby, esp those that are being talked about in the article - people who are heavily invested in influences and celebrity culture, they find luxury to be fun and it allows them to hang out in circles of people with similar interests. So it does fulfill functions: aesthetic, social, entertainment etc.

> I bought it because it has features the alternative doesn't.

How do we know that you aren't signaling you want that brand? You are just some dude in a Ford, who for all we know is signaling you want a Ford over a Chevy

I guess you just have to trust me. And, trust me, this car if anything signals that I’m boring as shit. The color is bland and styling is okay. I spent the money for the power seats and the extra room in the back.

Funny enough, it is a Ford, though I’ve also owned Chevys in the past.

I bought it because it has features the alternative doesn't.

You don't provide enough details here, but there's a good chance you aren't talking about the feature differences between a 1986 Toyota Tercel and a 2019 Camry. You are probably talking about the difference between your 40,000 or 50,000 (or more) dollar car and a typical 30,000 dollar car. If that's the case, it's probably worth pointing out while you criticize T-Shirt buyers, that you got horribly rooked. Rooked bad. Like, you're just a fat whale to the auto industry.

My car cost me $14,500. I could have spent $9k and gotten similar utility (though not as nice)

Today its less necessary and inefficient.

Once upon a time the costumes of head of state, judges, generals and priests required all kinds of peacock level signalling.

The illiterate masses needed the signals. Especially where authority figures were concerned.

Today we are at a point were a CEO can walk into a meeting in shorts and people have the capacity to understand who has more decision making power.

Are General's and Judges going to stop wearing their costumes? In large parts of the west much of it has disappeared. Not yet fully because when your job is to get people to do stuff that has nothing to do with their own needs distractions work.

As more and more people get in touch with their own needs the power of distraction and manipulative signals will reduce. We are seeing this push back happening all over the place.

In the past both the education system and professional hierarchies at work did a fantastic job of disconnecting people from their own needs to produce obedience.

Today thanks to hyper-connection of the internet, the hierarchies are bypassed, and people are getting slapped in the face, a hundred ways, reminding them to think about their own needs.

This is a new thing. It goes wrong a lot and produces bad outcomes but people are learning. And the learning is very different from the past. Because it comes through a network not from a hierarchy.

But is CEO going to live in a cheap apartment in a bad hood or entertain themselves via playing rocks they found on a street?

I'm all for controlling our inner consumerism but I often find tremendous lack of self-awareness in the discourse. Nobody says MTG fans are "not clever" or shallow or manipulated by the system because they have an expensive hobby. Tourism, cars, good houses, good furniture, art, videogames, eating out, going to concerts, collecting vinyls, having pets - are all absolutely unnecessary for humans and can be considered as luxury from point of view of those who cannot afford these things.

People buy and do stuff because they like it and can afford it and that's it. You're not more enlightened or clever for not doing one unnecessary thing but doing some other.

I don't ever eat in restaurants/cafes and don't have a car. I'm not smarter than majority of Americans, I'm just really shy and don't mind using public transport, so these things are inefficient for me, but they might be efficient in providing some entertainment, comfort, novelty experience, social signalling for those with different preferences.

A lot of people get up on their high horse because others spend money on things they consider frivolous and unnecessary.

I don't read too much into changing clothing styles. Suits and ties were starting to be de-emphasized in day-to-day business quite a while before social media was a thing. (Casual Fridays started in the early 90s or so.) And the sort of inverse snobbery hoodie dress thing is mostly limited to some tech circles.

For that matter, there are still a lot of suits and ties worn in business meetings even if they're not near-universal dress any longer.

>Once upon a time the costumes of head of state, judges, generals and priests required all kinds of peacock level signalling.

>The illiterate masses needed the signals. Especially where authority figures were concerned.

It's not that we don't need the signals anymore. We do. But the signals have been debased. Anyone can get any costume. So the signal doesn't signal anything anymore and it's not worth bothering.

> Are General's and Judges

Last time I was in court in court the judge was wearing just a casual floral top, summer skirt and flats, it was a small civil case, and no one minded at all. It was still clear that she was in charge.

Trying to have an outside perspective, the black robes do seem pretty silly in this day and age.

But not nearly as silly as the powdered wigs I think are still in use in Britain and other parts Europe which seem downright ludicrous.

> yes, everything is signaling.

Cynical observation. Not every human action is automatically designed to impress upon others.

> If you get a brandless tshirt, you are also signaling that you are too smart to buy the luxury brand.

As a matter of fact I buy "brandless" shirts -- actually I own about four black woolen shirts from Costco. It is simply a fact of the matter that a) I am smart enough not to fall for luxury brand marketting, and b) I prefer not to have to choose which 'design' of shirt to wear every day.

A fact is just so; it does not need to be signalled. I perfectly understand that some people value fashion more in line with their values. To each their own.

> Cynical observation. Not every human action is automatically designed to impress upon others.

That is not what the word signalling means.

Signalling is a means of communication. Singalling is much more efficient in many contexts than other communications methods like straight up talking and describing one's life.

Communication has many reasons for it, only one of which (quite minor for many people) is "impressing upon others". Saying signalling is done for "impressing upon others" is a gross simplification of this phenomenon and is just inaccurate.

Or maybe you just don't care what others think about what you wear and just go with what's cheaper, which is generally the brandless clothing

To some audiences, yes

That's why you get your custom shirt monogrammed. Bespoke and conspicuous, at least to the people you're signalling to.

Thing is, it still is. Haute couture doesn't have any labels and yet it does whole lot of wealth signaling. It's just... it takes some real wealth.

Yes, but only certain audiences recognise it.

To emphasize the point on the value of signaling - I know plenty of people who actively avoid branded items that could easily fit into their budgets because they think it's ridiculous to pay the premium - this is also signaling, especially if you belong to a tribe that knows you have that sort of money. Gets lost in the mental calculus of why a person buys a certain good (value, function, etc.), but as another commenter pointed out, luxury designer brands often fit better which makes the wearer look better, and the decision is rarely just about about which item provides more value for the 'cover a part of your body' use.

In the case of logos, it also signals that you are attempting to signal "wealth" (more appropriately, a somewhat elevated clothing budget), which is generally detrimental.

People who don't signal wealth tend to like to think so, but it's been fairly exhaustively demonstrated that signaling wealth with visibly branded clothing does get you better treatment in all sorts of things, including job interviews.


And yes, in some circles ostentatious signaling will be counterproductive, but that's the exception rather than the rule.

Mind you that's a study done in South Korea, a place where Burberry and Louis Vuitton have weird meanings and status they don't elsewhere. One of the amusing things about this conversation is that overtly branded items (Vuitton, Burberry, Rolex) are really big in Asian countries in a way they simply aren't anywhere else.

I had a South Korean physics colleague whose wife bought him some preposterously expensive Louis Vuitton organizer (basically a $2000 leather folder) when he got his Ph.D. He looked ... out of place with it around the physics department, where most of the people just dressed like nerds, or had tweed sports coats or whatever, but you could tell it was a big deal to both of them.

It's interesting the success/taste/status signals used by different social groups. Sales guys and lawyers often use shoes and watches for such things; a bit more subtle than a bag with branding logo all over, but serves the same purpose.

I totally agree having spent 300 days in last 5 years in Asia. Mostly, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan.

Luxury brands in every aspect of life dominate in Asia. Indie/Hipster/Craft cultures are also coming up but they are not viewed as a threat.

It turns out that money can’t buy you taste.

You get a sense for it in Vegas too, which gets a lot of business from that area of the world (as well as Middle East, etc.) There are whole shopping malls where I doubt there's a single item I'd consider buying.

Yes, I've heard that tasteful wealth signaling implies that you're successful enough to do so, and if you're a bit over the top, you likely need the job more than someone who is a bit more reserved, so you may work harder.

Basically, fake the til you make it and dress for the part and whatnot.

However, each position and manager are different, so there are very few hard and fast rules. What works great for one person may have the opposite effect on another. Honestly, I don't care too much about my physical appearance (I guess that's signaling too), so I've been looking into other nonverbal ways to communicate since I hate trying to adapt to the latest fashion (it's exhausting, and my time is better spent building stuff).

It used to be easy. You wore a suit to a professional job interview. End of story. End of discussion. Today, I assume that there are more than a few people in tech making hiring decisions who would flag that as "not a cultural fit."

Well, "easy" for men who could afford a suit that passed the "good enough" bar.

It's not like all wealthy people are some homogeneous entity where everybody dresses the same, looks the same, does the same business, spends their time in the same way and shares the same lifestyle, values and ambitions. Granted, I know a lot more about women's high fashion and the culture that surrounds it than about men's fashion and business culture but as a crude example: someone who's wearing stuff like D&G and Versace and someone who's wearing Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons are probably people with drastically different interests, professions, circles, values etc. Think conventionally glamorous vs avant-garde artsy crowd.

Everything largely depends on a particular circle, industry, level of income. Arab Sheikhs don't party with CEOs from Valley, Russian oligarchs or Hollywood producers. I believe how you're expected to dress for 300k position in Facebook would differ from the expected look for 300k position on Wall Street.

This is important for people to understand.

In business, an expensive watch signals to others that you’re good at what you do. Not necessarily that you’re a flashy asshole, although for some that can be the case too!

Most of the people I encounter who go out of their way to "signal wealth" are only wealthy if you consider massive debt a form of wealth.

What might that "practical social utility" be?

To be able to easily recognize people you want to hang out with? People do tend to gravitate toward people of the same economic class.

To at least show you're of the class that can afford such things. That allows you to not be judged.

Knowing whether that person will pick up the check :-)

For someone who can afford a collection of bespoke suits, prominent branding would be signalling a lower status than they already have, so obviously they aren't going to go for it. For a middle-class person, status signalling is not going to work the same way.

My dad used to complain about this too but go find athletic gear without the company’s logo. Or a watch. Or a vehicle. Or an appliance. It’s almost inescapable in some product categories.

Also, notice how many cars have advertising for the dealership on them as stickers or license plate surrounds. Why do people leave that junk on their cars?

Yes, athletic gear x1000.

A long time ago I realized that dressing without showing brand logos was much, much classier. E.g. shop at J. Crew or Uniqlo (no logos on any shirts) and not Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger (damn polo player/flag on every single shirt). There are plenty of brands/pieces without logos.

It baffles me, though, why athletic gear isn't the same. Everyone winds up sporting their allegience to Nike or Adidas or Puma or Under Armour or Reebok or Lululemon or whatever it is. I'm unaware of any major athletic brand, where I can buy a full range of workout gear (tees, shorts, sneakers) that doesn't advertise itself.

I don't get it. Why isn't there a J. Crew or Uniqlo of workout gear?

(Even brands that sell mostly unbranded clothing seem to compulsively slap some kind of "signature" on their workout gear specifically, e.g. Gap attaches it's own special Gap-athletic logo, and Old Navy has a kind of signature stripe on everything.)

I had the same realisation years ago when I was going through a bit of a James Bond phase. I realised that all of Bond's clothes that aren't suits are block colours, with no embellishments.

As for unbranded workout clothes, you can always try a military surplus store. Not all of the clothes there are camo style.

I’ve also wondered the same. I can think of a couple of reasons:

- Athletic activities are social and visible, especially in professional sports.

- It’s technically difficult to start an athletic company without access to significant IP in producing advanced athletic gear - both from engineering as well as manufacturing aspects.

It’s not too difficult to start a T-Shirt company. It’s monumentally difficult to develop your own Gore-Tex or Dri-Fit, Flyknit fabric, construct clothing or shoes from it and manufacture it at scale.

I’m not sure I totally buy that it is difficult to produce athletic clothing (shoes are different I think) without developing advanced fabrics and manufacturing. In particular I think many (most?) of these specialised fabrics are produced by fabric companies not fashion/clothing companies and that it is possible to buy these fabrics to manufacture your own clothes with some caveats:

1. You might not have the IP to make high quality athletic clothing because maybe it is difficult to find the right combination of materials.

2. Fabric companies probably don’t want to sell small quantities of fabrics produced in large volumes.

3. Some fabrics may be limited to specific companies by contracts.

I also claim manufacturing at scale is not necessary to start a company making athletic clothing.

I think it probably is possible to find a niche as a small company selling (expensive) athletic clothing. I think it’s also possible that the fabrics used by mainstream athletics companies are not necessarily the best around as products made from these fabrics typically need to be made in large volumes reasonably cheaply and I would expect newer better/experimental fabrics to be neither available in very large quantities nor reasonably cheap.

I would certainly expect such a company to exist even though I don’t know of one.

I don't know about sports clothing (tennis, running, etc.) but, for outdoor gear, there are absolutely boutique manufacturers of jackets and so forth (e.g. Feathered Friends in Seattle). Don't know of the top of my head if they have visible branding or not. Logos aren't universal though. I'm looking at a Merino wool LL Bean zip-neck shirt that doesn't have any external logo or branding on it.

Everyone winds up sporting their allegience to Nike or Adidas or Puma or Under Armour or Reebok or Lululemon or whatever it is.

As someone who spends 99% of his life in Adidas "athleisure" clothing, that's sorta part of the point for me. It just feels nice associating myself with their brand for some reason, no idea why. I guess it's like how some people associate themselves with their town, football team, or text editor, perhaps.

Atheletes are vehicles for advertisers. Athetic gear is arguably a hybrid between clothing and equipment. I don't know any reputable golf clubs or soccer balls that aren't branded. I wouldn't say that old Navy is advertising themselves with their logo; they seem to be imatating the biggest players.

I have some workout clothes with no visible branding, and I think it's of pretty good quality (at least the manufacturer is wuite famous for their high-tech fabrics and general quality)but interestingly it is much more expensive that your run of the mill Adidas or Reebok (not quite sure why I ended up having it either...).

> notice how many cars have advertising for the dealership on them as stickers or license plate surrounds. Why do people leave that junk on their cars?

I do have a dealer license plate surround for a dealer that's 3+ hours away; we got the car 2nd hand. It's entirely because I don't care enough to change it, as it would cost me money and time.

There's probably the opposite of signalling going on somehow here... where I'd rather people who think that makes me tacky stay away from me because I think they're shallow. ;)

> license plate surrounds.

they're free whereas new ones cost 10 bucks.

Not all the products are so loud, some are much more subtle and IMO better looking. But I also realize it's probably yet another class distinguisher.

Prominent Logo: https://www.gucci.com/us/en/pr/men/mens-shoes/mens-sneakers/...

No logo on outside: https://www.gucci.com/us/en/pr/men/mens-shoes/mens-moccasins...

Easily recognizable: https://us.burberry.com/check-stretch-cotton-shirt-p80048271

Subtle: https://us.burberry.com/the-long-chelsea-heritage-trench-coa...

What's amazing is that people spend a fortune on "fashion" without thinking twice while at the time are wont to tell others to deprive themselves of things like eating meat. One should wonder if this is modern religion in action.

There are all sorts of legitimate reasons (nutritional, spiritual, moral, technological) to direct nutritional choices, like eating or not eating meat. What does it have to do with "depriving oneself"? That's not a common reason to stop eating meat.

I'm referring to those people who, in the name of caring for "environment", are wont to do things like depriving themselves, and attempting to deprive others[1], of the pleasure of eating meat and yet has no hesitation whatsover in using their car for daily commute, spending a forture on fashion, etc.

[1] http://theconversation.com/yes-eating-meat-affects-the-envir...

There also are luxury brands that cost as much and don't have any easily visible logos, even if they do have some expensive showrooms. All depends on how exactly one wants to wealth-signal.

Yikes! Bad day for the PR flack who pitched this story. She probably didn’t think the headline would end up “she takes what you’ve told Facebook and sells it to luxury brands.” Goes to show how once you’ve gotten on the wrong side of the narrative it’s very hard to come back.

Yes this is obviously the case. Feels like the NY times is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The work she describes is nothing surprising and is quite benign compared to various facebook scandals we've seen. More than anything, what the article highlights is modus operandi of mainstream media: rather than reporting news objectively, they package stories into narratives popular with their target market. Great for creating politcal polarization..

That is the end result but I doubt it's intentional, probably in an effort to try to get clicks (and therefore ad impressions) they write stories people are interested in reading, and people are interested in things that fit the narrative.

But then again there are some fun Hearst quotes about being able to spin anything he wanted so who knows.

Does the media cover stories in a way that fits the narrative? Yes, but in this case, Facebook owns all the blame. They used to be on the golden side of the narrative (boy genius connecting the world) and got to the bad side entirely through their own actions.

There's a marvelous book The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life Hardcover by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson which argues convincingly that we are often pushed by motives we don't recognize, and do things for reasons other than what we proclaim: much of what we do is motivated by signalling, even if we are not consciously aware of it. Highly recommend this book!

Thanks for the recommendation! I was about to start a search for books on signaling.

I've worked as a marketer for 10 years, but don't like working on marketing luxury products. It has entirely different rules and goals then your usual direct to consumer stuff.


With luxury goods, the brand is the product and the value is from the brand, so you can't easily iterate with one off sales.

If I'm selling a new type of toothbrush, or a software that helps teachers grade homework with AI, I can make some ads, see how close they get to the needed ROI and tweak it. I can test marketing different aspects or selling points of the product and getting results iteratively.

If I'm selling a new luxury handbag, I will never, ever sell it at a reasonable ROI from just a set of ads. You have to build the whole eco system at once (kind of a chicken and egg problem). People have to see influencers using it, celebrities having them, the right kind of feeling in the ads, the right news articles, being sold in the right stores, etc. My first marketing job was at a start-up denim brand trying to become big and I observed and researched a lot there about how it works.

As a marketer who came up on the performance side, I feel your pain.

What would you say the state of analytics is on that side of things? Is attribution sufficiently advanced to get some read on the impact of various influences, celeb and PR hits, product placement, etc?

Even as a senior marketer confident in my skills, so much of the luxury space seems very much like an exercise of needing to put all your eggs in the one basket of a big launch. None of the steady burn of some more performance-driven plays with the usual iteration on ads and funnel metrics and such.

Attribution is as sufficiently advanced as needed to get approval to give BBDO another blank check for another hairbrained scheme that'll fund yet another award for BBDO. While concurrently being undermined and considered not reliable or advanced enough if the numbers it provides do not lead to another blank check for the creative agency.

I come from the performance side, but currently work with a bunch of CPG clients with products that run the gamut between commodity to luxury.

I specifically work on creating analytics and attribution frameworks, because these companies are fine with fuzzy hand-wavy "lift studies" for tv commercials and stupid in store display stunts. But they hold a double standard and anything digital has to be concretely measured to defend its budget.

It's actually pretty easy to create robust analytics and attribution in the space. But it's mainly a process thing, to be able to sprinkle around enough unique traits or identifiers along the way to measure at an aggregate level what the impact was. It tends to rarely be done though, due to a lack of that level of operational discipline for brand marketers and agencies, or due to the desire to deliberately sabatage the numbers because they don't paint a particularly flattering picture. So more often than not you end up with a botched execution on the small details that were required for proper attribution, then the resulting numbers being full of enough holes to spin the data however is convenient. Or someone slapping on some poorly integrated software that spits out a number that's taken as the holy grail, "cuz AI said so".

... which leads to a terrible cycle of distrust in analytics and attribution on the brand side, leading to fewer initiatives that prioritize it.

Interesting. We share a lot of frustrations and challenges.

What sort of spend levels and data volumes do you typically need to see for the lift studies you do with TV and CTV? Do you typically isolate to specific markets for that?

It really just depends. In the case of one retail client, we have carte blanche access to all of their data, from marketing systems to POS data to app location data. It makes it incredibly easy to "lazy load" a lift study after the fact, by looking for anomalies in behavior that are correlated with the creative. Rather than a standard test and control, we can essentially tailor the model to a per-store or per-region level and rollup lift from there. It's less about the spend level and data volume, and more about the data completeness.

For CPG clients, it's more of a pain. Those usually involve really complex interagency relationships, with discontinuity in both processes and data access. And in a lot of cases, they may have access to a retail partners POS or loyalty data, but can't share it directly with us as a third party agency, and there's a game of telephone where we have to coach them on what to ask for and provide to us (in whatever form they're allowed), while being blind to the data and data/system structures. So a lot gets lost in translation, with the spend level having to be large enough to compensate for however dysfunction that process is for that program and client.

That said, I'm lucky enough to be a passive observe to that most of the time. Another manager under my boss is responsible for those more traditional lift studies. I have an unusual background in that I've done a lot of process development work, web analytics, and data engineering/management. So I'm only brought into those projects when we have more technically sophisticated needs.

Since my first job, I've also tried to be in mostly performance roles, so I can't say for sure what the state of the art is in the brand side. I know there's lots of software trying to solve those issues.

This sounds similar to lamenting the difficulty of systems optimizations versus micro optimizations. Similar frustrations exist everywhere I guess. Interesting to see similar issues in the luxury/non-luxury goods space.

Hey this was a really interesting post and I'm wondering if you'd have any ideas about a project I'm working on related to brand marketing. I couldn't find your email but I saw you live around NYC (as do I) - maybe we could connect? I'm at alex@gourmay.io.

Grading homework with AI is an idiotic and destructive idea, just saying. "AI" may be able to see superficial similarities between the work to grade and a well-written text, but it won't (in its current state) be able to distinguish gibberish from a good argument. And what does it feel like to pour your heart into something, then have it graded by a machine that doesn't understand because your teacher can't be bothered to even give it a good read?

Most people don't distinguish between Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Intelligence.

Grading fill in the blank arithmetic exercises seems like a perfect piece of Augmented Intelligence. No gibberish problems until you get to "show your work", and even there, there are options if the business model is there. If the program is able to mark answers as "illegible", the grader can review before confirming. Make take-home grading something that can be done before the children go home for the day.

But still, apart from really mechanical yes/no aspects like spelling, I wouldn't want to have anything I write graded by something with which I can't have a normal conversation (a human or strong AI). Would you?

If you disagree with the grade, you would still have the option of taking it up with the teacher/TA running the grading program.

Really? That's what you get from this post?

When somebody lists something awful as a positive example, it does disturb me and I don't want to let it stand. Is that hard do understand?

The commenter did not list it as a positive example, just as an example.

> Ms. Oluwole’s staff creates profiles — compiled from user information, like date of birth, ZIP code, education and work history, favorite music, pages followed — to pinpoint ad targets for brands. For several years, Facebook and Instagram also incorporated information from third-party brokers like Acxiom but such data compilation was banned when the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in the European Union in May.

> ... Ms. Oluwole said: “We no longer get information from external sources. We can’t see what kind of car someone bought, because we don’t work with that data provider anymore.”

Two observations:

1.) Yep. My comments the other day were right in how far Facebook goes when they can. (Yes, there is more juicy stuff there.)

2.) While I view cookie banners as a sign that a number of companies really really don't "get" GDPR it seems it is already slowly changing behaviour behind the scenes.


"Eschew flamebait. Don't introduce flamewar topics unless you have something genuinely new to say. Avoid unrelated controversies and generic tangents."


What are you doing posting here? Go do something about it instead of lamenting the end.

The whole consumption/advertisement/narcissism/raise-to-the-top ecosystem is non sense and yet, it's a big part of how social networks make their money. People don't want to hear about the icecaps, they just prefer to be on top of the world.

Consumerism is a plague, and it's the #1 reason why it's impossible to talk about the environment. It's the elephant in the room.

That article highlight the type of person I despise with passion, because it represents the vanity of humanity. Granted, it's a hobby like any other, but to me it's the most ugly part of income inequality, for what luxury represents as a whole.

It's just my opinion like any other, you can disagree with it, but to me consumerism has become a political problem because it diverts our attention while making sure we don't think in terms of political responsibility.

Buying green products is also a type of consumerism. Certain personalities gravitate toward "green" products and buy a bunch of that instead of reducing consumption (well, I guess consumption is reduced because "green" products are more expensive) for similar reasons as someone who buys other luxury goods. "Organic" and "gluten free" have become memes at this point, and people buy them without understanding what they really mean.

People do things because it makes them feel good. Talking about global warming doesn't make people feel good. And it's not a political issue, it's a social one, yet we've dumped it into the realm of politics because we don't want to be responsible for it. At least now we can say "party X is at fault because they didn't support legislation Y".

To truly fix a problem like global warming, we need to fix the social aspect of it. Find a way to play off people's self interest instead of making it a partisan issue. Only suggest policy changes as it relates to molding social perspective. We need to find a way for people to selfishly protect the environment, not force people to give up things they like to help someone else...

There are simple living communities, but I doubt they'll reach mainstream success. Nonetheless, I think those communities success because there's a way to communicate with others in the community. If you want to help, find a way to make it "cool" to save the environment, and make a way to display that publicly as a status symbol.

People are self interested, and to make significant progress generally, you need to play off that.

Personally, I don't care for luxury items or brands.

But your argument here is a mess - you despise people with passion because of their consumer choices... and you're mixing up consumerism, environment, politics and income inequality into something completely incoherent.

While my incredibly rational side tends to agree with your point, my closer-to-the-reality side tends to think that the real world doesn't exactly operate in a state where "consumerism, environment, politics and income inequality" are not mixed up already.

The picture isn't clear, there isn't a single issue that makes the world as it is today purely by itself. So I would blame consumerism, together with everything else you listed - and I would strongly believe that you need to put the blame on every single one of these things at the same time.

Well, evidently I'm touching a nerve, which could hopefully provoke some people into considering the connections.

I'm frustrated that so much human energy and time is allocated to appeasing the fleeting insecurities of the hyperwealthy. Not just allocated to it, devoted to it.

Meanwhile, there's very critical work to be done that isn't allocated shit on any meaningful scale.

We as humans only have so much time in our days. The luxury goods sector, to me, is a wasteful allocation of energy. And I know people on the other side of the pyramid scheme busting their asses to take care of kids and pay the rent at the same time.

It highly irritates me that this is where their hard work is aimed. At the top of society,the owner class is focused on fricking Prada? That really gets my goat.

The ability for people to excessively obsess over logos and funnel money at them is enabled by the excessive exploitation of working people.

She seems like a smart, resourceful person. It is too bad she's harming her personal brand by allowing Facebook to use her like this.

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