Industry Buzzwords Agencies Hate

The digital industry is so rife with overused terms that many of them now essentially mean nothing. Agencies are as guilty as any party in the “ecosystem,” as they strive to sell their clients things like “engaging social CRM platforms” and “native ad executions,” all informed and “optimized” using  “big data,” no doubt.

Nonetheless, we asked a number of agency executives which buzzwords irk them the most, and why. Please tweet @digiday with your buzzwords to kill in 2013.

Julian Zilberbrand, SVP, Global Digital Director, Starcom Mediavest Group
Big data. It’s not about big data; it’s about big analytics. It’s not about the deluge of information but how you use it. Native ad. It’s just another name for ads we have been using for a while, be it a brand integration or unique ads that are specific to a content provider.

Matt Britton, CEO, MRY
Social CRM is loosely defined and lazily thrown around as a tactical solve by the industry when in reality this discipline is in its infancy and sparsely put into practice anywhere. As Facebook continues to allow for the overlay of customer data with social data, in 2013, brands will finally possess the ability to speak to consumers as individuals based on their history with a particular brand. This will allow brands to use social in managing customer relationships efficiently turning prospects into customers and customers into loyalists: This is social CRM. In 2012, though, many of the self-defined “social CRM” tools really didn’t deliver on this discipline, and the majority of agency practitioners really haven’t taken the time to define what this term actually means.

Daniel Stein, CEO of EVB
Big Data, social currency. They are both overused to the point that they are meaningless.

Sophie Kelly, President of The Barbarian Group
Digital ecosystem, holistic view, metrics, brand engagement. These are particularly worthy of mention as they may sound impressive but often have little or no meaning attached to their usage.

Jenny Nicholson, Associate Creative Director at McKinney
Aligned. This one really kills me. Not because it’s such a horrible word, but because it’s a symptom of a bigger problem. Advertisers are supposed to know how to talk to people, to cut through the clutter and connect. But we can’t even do that in our own meetings. “We need to get aligned” is basically a wimpy way of saying, “I don’t agree with you.” At the end of a client presentation, when the big moment comes, we say, “Are we aligned?” when what we really mean is, “Are you going to buy this?” We cloak ourselves in blandness to avoid confrontation as we develop the work, then we complain that advertising has become so bland.

Low-hanging fruit. I know it means “shit we’d be stupid not to do,” but all I think about when I hear it is saggy balls.

Darren Herman, Chief Digital Media Officer at The Media Kitchen
Native Advertising, Engagement, Pivot. They’re overused, misused, and ill-defined. Native advertising isn’t new; it’s overhyped.

Dave Meeker, Director of Emerging Technology at Roundarch Isobar
Social X. The latest victim of having “social” appended to it is business. Social Business? Really? How about thinking about social relationships in the same manner that we did 15 years ago? Online systems that foster community and human interaction through digital means are innately social. Social patterns that live in the physical world are naturally reflected in online communities, and this is enhanced with the evolution of technology and how it has become very commonplace in everyday interactions and patterns that people fall into.

Social content. This is a great one. Is content actually hanging out in bars, talking about last night’s game or what all of their friends are up to this weekend? Content is not social. People are social. People share content. Therefore, I suppose content can be attributed as being a product of social interactions. Any kind of online content is technically social; it just depends on who decides to share it.

Gamification: Ah … life’s a game. We actually employ game mechanics in a lot of the apps we design and develop. This makes sense. People like to be challenged, receive rewards and understand where they are within a process. Visual indicators, akin to the the games we are familiar with, can help achieve this, and there are some interesting things that can appeal to the human psyche related to motivation and accomplishment that live within. While that’s the case, far too many people are talking about how they are going to gamify your software, business or product. Leave that to the experts, for cute badges are only scratching the surface of real game theory and how to apply it to customer experiences.

Rachel Barbarotta, manager of community management at Digitas
Optimization. In social, why can’t we just say, “seek new groups” or “run the photo that most people liked”?