Adwords Delusions

Here’s a fascinating observation about Adwords you’ll only hear from a shrink raised in a family of 17 psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers.

You see, while your Dad was telling you ghost stories and taking you to baseball games, MY Dad was telling me a fascinating story about a study completed in a “mental institution” (I hate the term) the year I was born.

In 1964, at the Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan, Milton Rokeach wanted to see if it was possible to treat delusions by forcing them to “auction for space” against one another.  He noticed it wasn’t uncommon for men to present at the hospital claiming to be Jesus Christ. Rokeach reasoned if he put’m all together, they’d have to realize it was impossible for ALL of them to be Jesus, so the delusions would collapse.

He arranged to have 3 of them in the same therapy group.  But it didn’t work.

Or at least, it didn’t work the way he thought it would … the delusions persisted. (As an interesting and totally tangential aside, you can never REASON someone out of a delusion … delusions are dealt with and resolved in FORM, not substance … what you see in the movies is total prairie poop)

Anyway, instead of giving up their delusions when confronted with the truth of each other’s presence, these men molded themselves to allow for the existence of each other … they decided to form a “Society of Christs”. There personal identities were too precious to sacrifice.

Instead, they paradoxically found they could reinforce each other as friends.

Now … if you think this was just a psychology lesson you’re missing the point. (Also, I hope this doesn’t have to be said, but I’m not making any religious arguments or statement here)

Many of my students come to me at first very, very concerned about the intense competition in the Adwords auction.

They believe it will be next to impossible to carve out a unique space for themselves in a market which is “already sewn up”. But this reasoning follows the same logic Rokeach was convinced of at the outset of his study … and fails to recognize the propensity of humans to make room for a multitude of individuals offering fairly similar stories and presentations, and the innate tendency to artfully adjust one’s “plumage” to attract attention in a competitive environment.

Now I’m not saying it’s easy, or there’s not a process involved which takes some time (e.g. getting into the traffic stream, adjusting your bid, split testing a dozen or so ads, etc), but I am saying what Rokeach observed is the same thing we see in Adwords all the time …

There’s usually room for 3 vendors to tell the same story in just slightly different ways …

Which makes the whole thing just a little less frightening, don’t you think?

For what it’s worth,

Dr. G 🙂

PS – I just have to say, I really LOVE being able to finish my day like this. (I had a very hard day today). I love that you read this far, and seriously considered what I had to say. I love that you continue to give me a chance to be significant in your life. I love that wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, at this moment my thoughts are connecting to yours, and maybe, just maybe, changing your emotional state. Thank you. (Really… thank you).

PPS – Rokeach’s odd book (a detailed account of the study) is still in print if you’re so inclined to look it up. 

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