In praise of randomness.

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From Only Dead Fish Swim With The Water, here is your thought for the day:

In marketing, we like predictability. The more we feel we know the likely consequences of what we do the more comfortable we feel with it. The accountability of online media helps us to believe that more than ever, the game of the future will be all about data and optimisation. Behavioural targeting offers us the opportunity to deliver and adapt our advertising based on how our recipient has acted in the past. With econometrics, we even go so far as to model likely outcomes based on what has happened in the past. We seek to apply science to what we do wherever we can. We like to get as close to certainty as possible.

In many ways this is just good business practice. But in a future shaped by a ruthless pursuit of efficiency and over-optimisation, will there be room for the kind of happy accidents that can be transformational? Will it all simply serve to make brands too predictable? Is randomness really such an enemy of good marketing?

If that wasn't enough, here's a little more thought fodder:

Unpredictability and randomness clearly have a role in the generation of great ideas. The guys at ?Whatif! ('the world's largest independent innovation company') have built their business on their concept of ‘Freshness’, defined as “finding surprising solutions to problems. The habit of always trying new things, of being comfortable with the unpredictable.” One of their four ‘R’ s of Freshness (the others being Re-expression, Related World, Revolution) is Random Links - "making connections and links between the issue and random items found in the world". One of my favourite quotes on this, from Albert Einstein, captures perfectly why this is so important:

“Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.”

Or with the same vocabulary, for that matter.


Rohit Bhargarva makes a good point about what makes ‘randomness’ such a powerful marketing tool:

“…most theories today focus on how attention can be driven by credibility, trust or brand authenticity. While I agree with these theories, there is another force that works outside of any of these. Curiousity. Randomness drives curiousity, and curiousity drives attention."

Again, good point. So... think about your "process." Your formula. Your mechanism. Think about how you attack a marketing problem or a brand-building project or an ad campaign. Does your methodology allow for happy accidents? Does it create an environment in which transformational randomness is likely to occur?

Or are you just going along the same linear creative process over and over again?

If you've been hitting a lot of stale ideas recently, maybe less structure and more randomness is what's on the menu for you for the next few weeks. ;)

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

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