WSJ Database Marketing is a Dud

In the Hutong
Digging for my American Chopper DVDs
2127 hrs.

One of the great promises of computer technology was a thing called Database Marketing.

The theory behind database marketing is that a company with which you have a relationship will record information it learns about you and it will send you solicitations that will not only be relevant, but indeed will anticipate what you want.

So much for the theory.

Let’s take, for a moment, the Wall Street Journal. I have had a long and mostly satisfying relationship with the publication for many years. I was one of the early subscribers to the electronic edition, and I’ve maintained that almost consistently since they began offering the service. ($339 per quarter to fly dead trees to my doorstep just seemed like a bad idea all around.)

You’d think they know me by now. They’ve got my billing information. They know where I live in China. They know what I do, how old I am, what I read, what my interests are, what I download, how much I make. They even know I’m a white male.

So when I get an invitation from the WSJ inviting me to a Career Fair (I own my own business, thanks), a “Diversity” career fare, no less (white man I am), in about two weeks at the very-inconvenient-to-me Embassy Suites Hotel Old Town in Alexandria, Virginia, I realize that either Dow Jones is totally incompetent at marketing, since they don’t know the difference between “database marketing” and “SPAM,” or they just don’t care about who I am and don’t care if I know it.

I’m starting to change my mind about Rupert Murdoch and Dow Jones. Surely their database marketing couldn’t get much worse.


About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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