nce, Mad Men ruled advertising. They've now been eclipsed by Math Men - the engineers and data scientists whose province is machines, algorithms, pureed data, and artificial intelligence. Yet Math Men are beleaguered, as Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated when he humbled himself before Congress, in April. Math Men's adoration of data - coupled with their truculence and an arrogant conviction that their "science" is nearly flawless - has aroused government anger, much as Microsoft did two decades ago.
Data has long been a key component of advertising and marketing. The only difference is that today computers and the internet make data collection a lot easier and cheaper. But it's been going on for decades.
Remember warranty cards we filled out upon a new purchase? We [answered] a bunch of questions. That was data collection.
Insurance companies, magazine publishers, supermarkets all collected market research and demographic data for years. If you used a supermarket coupon, that was tracked to see what store it was used at.
Supermarkets and department stores often hired demonstrators to give out free samples and interview customers.
A big motivation for supermarket checkout scanners was not labor saving, but rather data collection.
Remember those perforated tickets on garments? Stores and manufacturers tracked sales. IBM made machines to convert the tickets to punched cards for further processing. NCR made cash registers to track them.
Advertisers were always sensitive to the circulation or viewership of a medium, and who the market was, and of course the cost.
There was always a science to where advertisers spend their money. An advertiser [seen on] "Leave it to Beaver" would not necessarily be the same advertiser [seen on] "Perry Mason". "Soap operas" were called that because they were originally made by soap companies, who advertised to the housewives who [were] the viewers. In print, an advertiser [using] "FORTUNE" wouldn't necessarily advertise in "Boys' Life."