Category Archives: Business

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David Ogilvy and Persuasion

If you are a Mad Man, you know David Ogilvy, the late master of Madison Avenue and prime inventor of modern advertising.  If you’re not a Mad Man or you are a young and inexperienced Mad Man, then I’d like to point you to Ogilvy’s short, wise, and entertaining book, Confessions of an Advertising Man.  Ogilvy is a first rank narcissist, as he would have told you, and the book reflects all that glory and confusion.  He is large.  He contains multitudes.  He contradicts himself.  In Ogilvy, it all works; your mileage will most definitely vary.

Ogilvy demonstrates the great tension in practical persuasion:  Art versus Science!  Or as Miller Beer put it, Tastes Great versus Less Filling!  In practice you will do both Art and Science with persuasion; you cannot help it.  You may protest One over the Other, but you will do both as Ogilvy demonstrates.

For example,

I started my career in research with the great Dr. Gallup at Princeton.  Then I became an advertising copywriter.  My Last Will and Testament (p. 25)

But, then, in considering one of his more famous creations, the eye-patch Hathaway Shirt Man,

Exactly why it turned out to be so successful, I shall never know.

So, Ogilvy is trained as a scientist under Gallup, yet cannot explain his greatest success.  How much science does he have?

He will rail against “academic” jargon in marketing reports, yet require the “discipline of knowledge” finding a distinction without a difference for me between the products from Academe versus those from Knowledge.

Interestingly to me is how similar his methods of operation were to Richard Wagner.  I’ll just briefly headline his key point from building an agency.

  • targeted 5 Blue Chip advertisers (clients) as ultimate goals.
  • invited 10 trade journalists to lunch, listened to their advice on how to succeed, then sent them PR kits for everything.
  • Bernays advised to make no more than 2 speeches a year.  Speeches aimed at creating buzz on Madison Avenue.  Created a fund with 10k to invent a college of advertising with licensing.  Created buzz that caused him to get quoted.
  • made friends with people doing business with potential clients.
  • sent progress reports (direct mail) to 600 people in the Business.
  • worked 72 hours a week.
  • took any client that called, but dressed the part for those 5 Blue Chips.
  • conducted pilot research on targeted clients and shared it with them.

Where Wagner actually had to build a network, Ogilvy identified the network he wanted to dominate, then followed all of the steps that Wagner employed to sell himself.  The resemblance is uncanny and stands as a great and simple lesson for self promotion (or company promotion – see all those Web 2.0 persuasion plays).  It’s really that simple.

For me, what Wagner and Ogilvy describe is what I call the Cool Table.  Whether the Cool Table knows Truth, Beauty, or Justice is less important than that they are Cool.  When you are Cool and at the Table, your definition of Truth, Beauty, or Justice is likely to dominate or at least make money or reputation or both.  If you wish to dominate or at least attain whatever, how do you make the Cool Table?  Strategic Self Presentation which is persuasion directed at making your self appear Cool.  Consider the strategic outcomes from Ogilvy’s tactics with new clients.

Ogilvy’s Rules for Selecting New Clients:

1. Only advertise products which you are proud to be associated with, never advertise a product that you don’t respect and don’t like.
2. Never advertise for a company that you feel has better advertising than you can offer.
3. Never advertise for a company that has had failing sales for a long period of time. This normally means that the advertising will not help the sales.
4. Make sure that the client understands that the advertising agency has to make money as well; don’t make the client money while losing money from your own company.
5. Question any account that would not be very profitable. If it gives you a chance to show off your skills to other potential clients, then take the account.
6. Always find the motive for the client switching agencies, if he was let go from the previous agency, find out why.
7. Do not take clients that put little importance in advertising.
8. Never advertise for a product that is not yet on the market.
9. Never take associations as clients.
10. Only give in to the demand that a person be hired if you get the account if you feel that the person is capable of doing good work for your company.

You are going to work hard and deliver the best effort you can.  But realize that everyone else offers pretty much the same package.  Ogilvy took a longer and more strategic perspective on his work.  He realized that his client’s prestige (where they sat at the Cool Table) could vastly speed up his own ascent.  Rather than take any good client, Ogilvy always sought the Cool Client, the one who would multiply the impact of Ogilvy’s work.  If we are all doing our best and delivering a great product, then we all reach the finish line together.  If you want to get ahead of everyone else, you need a strategy.  Realize that Ogilvy’s Rules for Client Selection provide exactly that.

A posthumous Peitho Award for Mr. Ogilvy!

Camelot’s Fortune, 2.0

During the 1920s stock manipulators formed combinations, syndicates, or pools – a polite way of saying Financial Gangs – that traded shares of companies only among themselves, artificially driving up or down the price, then releasing sales of the distorted shares to a wider investor market, and cleaning up in the process.  Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of the future President John F. Kennedy, made his fortune with this, then, legal process.  As Balzac’s proverb more briefly states, all great fortunes start with a crime, although it must be admitted, at the time what Kennedy and his syndicate partners did was only a crime against humanity’s wallet, and not against the law.

Following the collapse of the stock market and the ensuing Great Depression, the government created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to regulate markets with the aim of preventing these predatory and deceptive practices.  The first leader of the SEC – and you cannot be surprised persuasion mavens – was Joseph P. Kennedy.  President Franklin Roosevelt, operating on the rule that it takes a thief to catch a thief, selected Uncle Joe figuring correctly that only a sophisticate like Kennedy could discover and reign in shady practices without actually requiring prosecutions.  It worked and the SEC continues as an effective prevention and enforcement arm against wildly predatory and deceptive financial practices.

Of course, nothing today with the various Web 2.0 companies, most notably Facebook, runs amok, afoul, or even aghast of the SEC because the primary Facebook financial players are not yet preying upon or deceiving John Jerk and his cousin Odd Lot Robert, the former targets of the various Kennedy combines.  This time the Facebook players are trying to manipulate the manipulators, all those Insider 200 who currently own the legally limited private shares of Facebook that can only be traded among themselves, leaving JJ and OLR on the outside looking in, protected by the SEC . . . for now.

Uncle Joe shot fish in a barrel and warrants no Peitho Award in my maven book.  Lying or deceiving is not persuading; it’s just lying and deceiving, even if it produces a fortune large enough to buy a Presidency.  But, the Facebook VC and Startup Stars, they are that special kind of dangerous – killing in plain sight.  They speak without test, proof, or consequence and still change a class of Other Guys whose forebears once ran with the syndicates.  Do a time-series search on public claims of Facebook’s market value since 2005.  1, 5, 17 25, 50, 70, 100, 200 billion dollars.  Maybe even 1 trillion dollars!

Mr. Ryan thinks Facebook’s IPO will be historic. “I’ve said that it has a chance at being the first trillion-dollar company.  Do I think it will be? No, that’s a stretch. I definitely think it’s worth easily $100 billion. And I think when it goes public it will probably be worth maybe even $200 billion,” says Mr. Ryan . . .

Mr. Ryan is a fabulously successful Internet entrepreneur and VC maven with a proven track record.  He knows!  And, it doesn’t matter that his . . .

. . . brother Sean is a senior executive at Mark Zuckerberg’s company.

Chase them down, all those credible quotes offered as Arguments for the value of Facebook.  No independently verified data about any element of Facebook’s operation – just expert quotations from experts who have hands in Facebook pockets.

Right now, fewer than 200 positions are held in Facebook, as limited by SEC and Uncle Joe regulations.  You can be Private with under 200, but over 200 you become more Public.  And Public means paperwork, accountability, transparency.  No more proofs like Mr. Ryan’s 1 Trillion Dollar Testimony.  Show me the S-1 form!  Sure, S-1s can lie like an eyewitness, but fundamental lies are felonies here and not merely colorful quotations in the press.

But today, those Insider 200 are listening to the Arguments from Mr. Ryan and his ilk.  They are trading shares among themselves, believing in either persuasion or else in smoke and mirrors.  The SEC, along with JJ and OLR, stand on the sideline for now.

Their grandfathers of the 200 must shake their heads in wonder.  “We raised these Guys?”  Perhaps the 200 think that the SEC won’t strike after they put the hit on JJ and OLR just to get even after the gutting they’ve taken and will take from the FB VC and SS.

A trillion dollars for Facebook?  Hey, maybe Al will get you another drink.

P.S. Color me shocked.  Do a quoted search on John Jerk and Odd Lot Robert, and Google returns nothing.  How is that possible?  Those names come courtesy of “Adam Smith,” the witty financial writer from the 1960s and 70s, who authored The Money Game and Super Money.  John and Robert were his names for individual investors like you and me who think we know the market and can swim with the sharks without sleeping with the fishes . . . and, whew, Google knows about “Sicilian proverbs” from the Godfather.

P.P.S.  And, yes, Balzac, not Mario Puzo and the Godfather, is the correct source for All Great Fortunes Begin with a Crime.


Spotify, For Me? and Ding-Dong Persuasion Plays

Spotify is coming!

Spotify is a European Internet music service that appears to threaten even the mighty iTunes.  Consider.

The service launched in the US on Thursday, and Spotify is ramping up their free service option. For the time being the free plan is invite-only and is expected to be opened to everybody in a few weeks. In the meantime, once Spotify emails users their invitations, they will be able to listen to any of the 15 million songs from their computer . . . There are, of course, a few catches.  First, you will have to listen to commercials. And after 6 months you will be limited to 10 hours per month.

Wow.  Free music on demand from the cloud, the ever present, always reliable Big Computer in the Sky that is always accessible, but never present, filled to the brim, but never full with all the management and organization problems left to the Great CloudMaster.  And, did I mention, it is free?  Your favorite music, free, anytime, anywhere, any iGizmo.

So. When at your iGizmo Do tap Spotify and Get free sonic pleasure.

Of course, that Reinforcement pattern of When-Do-Get is not complete.  The When is a bit more complicated and that’s the Spotify persuasion play.

When at your iGizmo For Six Months . . . fills in the blank.  Free for 180 days.

After Six Months, the Get Consequence part will shift from Always Free to 10 Hours a Month Free.

Realize that Spotify will get you to run as many reinforced trials with their service as you like for six months.  Talk about habit forming.  Think about how reflexive, unconscious, and habitual this could become for you.  Turn on your device, tap or click Spotify and Boom, you get that Rewarding Consequence.  Time after time after time.

And, realize the six month Ding-Dong that Spotify invents.  All that positive hedonic valence, oops, all that fun from your favorite music gets associated in time, space, and meaning with Spotify.  Spotify as a label means nothing to you before you use the service.  But after just a few days you will Ding-Dong with joy on the word, S-P-O-T-I-F-Y.

Very simple.  Very fundamental.  Very groovy.

What’s your guess on the conversion rate to the paid service after that Six Month For Me? with Ding-Dong persuasion play?

Although, to be persuasion honest with you, six months seems a bit long.  I’d think half that time would be sufficient to create the Reinforced and Trained Irresistible Brand that is merged with the Self Concept and Daily Existence of most people.  They must have a ton of VC money.  Or else they know something from their European adventure.

Persuasion mavens always learn even when they succeed.

la Persuasion de Table Cool

I learned French in second grade.  This is an astonishing fact, but not because my first foreign language was French or that the instruction occurred in second grade, but rather because I attended a little rural school in Missouri that was not exactly Ivy Prep.  To this day, I have no idea how that little school found someone in town who possessed even rustic qualifications to teach French.  Perhaps she came home with an adoring GI as a Gallic World War II bride.  Perhaps she preferred Missouri home style cooking to haute cuisine.  Perhaps she had a bad debt with the principal.  No matter.  In 1959 I sat in my class transfixed at this new way speaking and listening, writing and reading.

As a result of this early training I have an aging, but enduring, interest in anything remotely related to French and France which is why I read with interest a review in the New York Times about the new book, When The World Spoke French, by Marc Fumaroli.  Fumaroli is a French professor so, not surprisingly, this book is both Dense and Erudite, which is okay for the books I read (and thus I reveal again my propeller head personality).  Of course you do have that Dense Erudition as noted in the NYT review.

Such references abound not only in Fumaroli’s protagonists’ writing but in his own, as when he says that Ben Franklin and a lady friend exchanged “innocent caresses, like Julie and Saint-Preux at Clarens.” Or when he writes that a friend acting as an intermediary between King Stanislaw II of Poland and an alluring duchess behaves “like Vautrin, arranging Lucien de Rubempré’s amours with the Duchesse de Maufrigneuse and his marriage with Clotilde de Grandlieu.” . . . These statements presume a level of familiarity with the French literary canon that I, as a professor of French literature, would be thrilled to find in my compatriots but seldom do. Fumaroli, bless his heart, remains hopeful.

Dense, Erudite, and but not Engaging, Compelling, or Witty; however, throw in a little Nuance and we’re talking serious Academic.  What more could a boy who speaks French with a rural Missouri accent desire? (Gee-em app-el, A-T-N. Como voo app-lay voo?)

And, yet, there’s much more here than my simpleton story.  This review hides a Persuasion Play that marks the point of this post.  And, it hides in plain sight, always the best Play.

If you do just a bit of searching about Professor Fumaroli you’ll soon find this entry on his CV.  Merci, Wikipedia.

2001 Quand l’Europe parlait français

Blessed with my second grader French skills, even today over 50 years after that training, I can roughly translate the quivering italics into something like, When Europe Talked French.  And, the date:  2001.  Qu’est ce c’est?

Realize that this new book, When the World Spoke French, is available only in paperback.  Paperback?  New book?  Now, you begin to realize that this new book, first published in 2001, is an old book and that the new thing about it is the translation.  Ce qui se passe?

Note that the publisher of the translation of an old book is . . . the New York Times!

The New York Times is publishing a review for a book the New York Times is publishing!  Drole!

How can this succeed?

. . . according to Fumaroli, the old-school sophistication of French still holds sway among a small, if obscure, international elite. “It is,” he concludes, “in this clandestine worldwide minority . . . that today resides, . . . unknown to the majority of the French, the life and future of their irreplaceable idiom, qualified as a literary language and the language of ‘good company.’” For those looking to join this latter-day “banquet of enlightened minds,” “When the World Spoke French” is an excellent place to start.

Sophistication de la vieille école!

International Elite!

Banquet des esprits éclairés!

Sera ce fou de la Table Cool?  Ici!

Dry Vodka Martini July 14 2011

Dry Vodka Martini

·    1 shot, journalism
·    1 dash, persuasion
·    1 ice filled shaker
·    stir in shaker, pour, then enjoy!

Drowning in the Cascade

An interesting random sample survey of small business owners reveals extremely low rates of Social Media use.  Nearly 50% see no need and only 4% rate it as valuable.  The headline quote:

“The Hiscox study supports other research showing that the majority of [small business] owners haven’t found social media to be a vital part of their businesses.”

This demonstrates a problem in the Communication Cascade with Social Media.  If you are a smaller communication source – which appears to mean if you’re not a Fortune 500 company – there’s no soup for you!  Social Media persuasion simply appears to die at every Stage of the Cascade.  Everyday literally millions of tweets, likes, and shares get posted which means small communication sources get virtually no Reception at the very first Stage.  Who can hear your falling tree in a forest of busy social media beavers?  Then, less Processing and finally worse Response.

I’m guessing that if you have your money riding on it, you already know this and all the Social Media cheerleaders have no skin in the game except as stock pickers.

Persuading Persuaders

Buried in an interesting story about Google+ I found this compelling observation.

In other words, as a popular phrase about social networks puts it: “If you’re not paying for it, then you are the product.”

Stated in persuasion terms, you are the TACT for Social Media mavens.  The software platform is a persuasion play aimed at changing the way you think, feel, or act.  Kinda like the CIA running a free vaccination program in bin Laden’s neighborhood, you know.

Persuasion Mavens Skip Harvard for East Rain Barrel SC

You can attend Harvard or East Rain Barrel State College.  Which degree will generate the most income over your future?

Talented high-school students don’t increase their earning potential by choosing an elite, expensive college over a slightly less elite and expensive alternative, a new study finds.

Turns out that people who graduate from Elite Universities do not earn more money over their lifetime compared to people with the same ability who attend UnElite Universities.  Dale and Kreuger extend their observational research in this new paper which builds on a common research finding about college degrees:  it’s the kid, not the college, that drives future income.

Stated another way, when you control for the talent of the kid entering the college, the expected Elite Advantage disappears.  And, this effect is not limited to Elites.  The same outcome occurs with public schools with worse reputations.  Better kids do better.  Not kids attending better colleges.  In essence, Elite Universities simply do a better job screening and accepting highly talented kids and don’t add value for future income.

In fairness, there are important exceptions.  Kids coming from UnElite backgrounds (low income, neither parent attended college, limited experience and exposure to cultural variety) tend to do better after Stanford or Duke than they would have at their local Regional State University.  The Elite connections and resources become revelations for such kids and they tend to make more of them than their privileged peers.

Persuasion mavens must take note of this, especially if they haven’t noted it before.  The kid from Harvard is not going to be the one to surprise you.  It’s gonna be that scrubbed kid with the funny accent from Texas or Minnesota or Idaho that will be the last face you’ll see before things go black!

Realize the Main Point.

It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid, Not Their Pedigree!

P.S.  I don’t subscribe to NBER and couldn’t access this paper from the link above.  Here’s a pdf (Elite U and Income) of an earlier draft of the same paper.


Homunculus Rides Again

If you’re an old guy or just a fanatic who reads everything including those pillow tags, you probably ping on the word, Homunculus.  If not, let a picture speak its thousand words.

Yeah, the little human in your head that controls everything.  Everyone says they don’t believe there’s a little person inside everyone’s brain that is the ultimate source of consciousness and action.  That’s just ridiculous.  But if you look around the persuasion landscape, you recognize the unmistakable signs of that Laughable Metaphor lurking behind the smart explanations of human thought and action.

Recently a bright fellow looked at all those silly people who engage in apocalyptic prediction only to find inevitable disconfirmation.  The writer asks,

Why are such apocalyptic prophecies so common in human history? What are their emotional and cognitive underpinnings?

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing in a thoughtful turn of mental pipe twisting, he answers his question.

Cognitively, there are several other processes at work, starting with the fact that our brains have evolved to be pattern-seeking belief engines. Imagine yourself as a hominid on the plains of Africa three million years ago. You hear a rustle in the grass. Is it the wind or a dangerous predator?

There is no compelling physical evidence that human brains evolved like this although it is not unbelievable.  And since the explanation can be neither proven nor refuted, it is little more than the Homunculus, but dressed up in the mechanical mysteries of evolution.

Another writer uses evolution as the Homunculus to explain the biology of morality.  Our values are in our genes.  The writer uses the example of Osama bin Laden.

It’s presumably neither ethical nor practical, but supposing that somebody could sequence Osama bin Laden’s genome, which genes would you want to examine to try to understand his violent desires?  I put this question to the psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, the author of a new book called “The Science of Evil” (and a cousin of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen). He replied that there is no evidence that bin Laden’s crimes came from his nature, rather than from his experiences, so you might find nothing.  But, Prof. Baron-Cohen went on, it would at least be interesting to take a look at bin Laden’s MAOA gene (linked to aggression), his AVPR1A and CNR1 genes (linked to emotional expression) and his CYP11B1, NTRK1, and GABRB3 genes, which show some association with how individuals score on a scale called the “Empathy Quotient.”

Again there’s no good physical evidence that evolution has anything or everything to do with this, but once again since the hypothesis can be neither proven or refuted, it is another kind of Homunculus, a little invisible thing within us that makes us just so.  Instead of the little human, you substitute MAOA or AVPR1A (kinda sound like hip new websites, don’t they?).

You also see the Homunculus 2.0 in those marvelous brain pictures that accompany the latest and greatest neuroscience.  Consider.  McCabe and Castel ran three experiments with college adults – presumably pretty sharp thinkers compared to free range folks living without the benefit of the U – that provided research reports varying on the pretty pictures.  Half the time the pretty picture was just quantitative while the other half of the time the pretty picture was a pretty picture of a brain.  Like this.

McCabe and Casteel created fictitious and scientifically questionable results in experiments about the relationship between brain activity and watching TV.  Like this:

For example, in the article entitled, “Watching TV is Related to Math Ability,” it was concluded that because watching television and completing arithmetic problems both led to activation in the temporal lobe, watching television improved math skills. This similarity in activation was depicted in a bar graph or brain image (shown in Fig. 1a), or was only explained in the text (the control condition).

In ELM terms, everyone reads weak Arguments (spurious claims, dubious data) that should generate negative elaborations in that Long Conversation in the Head.  These weak Arguments are accompanied by different kinds of pretty pictures which are available as simple Cues.  And, there’s a No Picture Control so we see what happens when there are no pictures.  So, how goes the results?

Planned comparisons revealed that both the brain image (M = 2.92, SEM = .04) and bar graph (M = 2.90, SEM = .04) conditions were rated as better written than the control condition (M = 2.77, SEM = .05), F(1, 155) = 5.82, MSE = 1.82; F(1,155) = 3.92, MSE = 1.28, respectively. Critically, as shown in Fig. 1b, texts accompanied by a brain image were given the highest ratings of scientific reasoning, differing reliably from both the control, F(1, 155) = 5.87, MSE = 1.70, and bar graph conditions, F(1, 155) = 8.38, MSE = 1.85.

Those F-ratio statistics translate into Small Plus Windowpanes, so the effect is right on the edge of apparent to the naked eye.  The researchers replicate the study, this time with a comparison between these two pretty pictures of the brain.

The one on the right is the familiar pretty picture of a brain while the one on the left is a topological map which provides the same information, just in a way that only makes sense to a scientist.  Again, these images accompany a report of a bad experiment on TV watching and math ability.  This time, McCabe and Castel find a Small Windowpane difference.  College student rate the bad report as better with the familiar brain pretty picture.

McCabe and Castel replicate this effect one more time on the topic of using brain scans to detect criminals, and again find the pretty picture brain image leads people to rate the bad science as better.

And just to be the Annoying Professor here, this effect has been replicated by other researchers.  Weiberg et al. produce the same finding in their well titled paper, The Seductive Allure of Neuroscience Explanations.  Add a pretty picture to poor science and you get Homunculus 2.0 in operation.  And, Diane Beck provides a nice overview of these kind of failures reported in the New York Times, demonstrating that you don’t need a randomized controlled trial to illustrate the new Homunculus.  And, (and this is the last And here), we can return to George Miller and his warnings about bad science with the brain among – Scientists!

Please see the metaphor here.  No one uses the word Homunculus nowadays, although it would be a helluva name for an Eminor Whiner band.  Yet, many people still believe in the concept behind the label.  There something in there that is driving us.  Evolution shaping our brains.  MAOA genes shaping our brains.  And, those pretty pictures reveal it all.  But, when you think about it, none of these things are proven or explanatory.  At best they only correlate with thought and action.

See now the Persuasion Play here.  As I’ve noted before, you’ll learn nothing new about persuasion from fMRI pictures, but you can make people think they are seeing the Real Thing with those pictures.  Hire somebody with a brain scanner and get some of those pretty pictures.  Put them in your corporate annual report or your marketing study for the Head Shed or in your promotional materials selling your services.  People will reliably fall for it.  The Rules!

All Bad Science Is Persuasive.  You Cannot Persuade A Falling Apple.  You Should Not Try To Persuade A Falling Apple.

Too, and most importantly:  It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid.  And if Other Guys are falling for pretty pictures then buy that camera and learn how to use it!

P.S.  Read more about it with these sources.

Beck, Diane M. The appeal of the brain in the popular press. Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol 5(6), Dec 2010, 762-766.

doi: 10.1177/1745691610388779

McCabe, David P.; Castel, Alan D. Seeing is believing: The effect of brain images on judgments of scientific reasoning. Cognition, Vol 107(1), Apr 2008, 343-352.

doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2007.07.017

Weisberg, Deena Skolnick; Keil, Frank C.; Goodstein, Joshua; Rawson, Elizabeth; Gray, Jeremy R. The seductive allure of neuroscience explanations. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Vol 20(3), Mar 2008, 470-477.

doi: 10.1162/jocn.2008.20040


Persuasion Engine 2008

While doing routine writing maintenance for the Blog I encountered this post I’d begun in 2008.  It nicely demonstrates the tentative beginnings of the Persuasion Engine.  Consider the WSJ Headline and story.

The Ad Changes With the Shopper
Some Digital Screens Could Adjust Messages Based on Features

The article then notes businesses like Dunkin’ Donuts, Proctor & Gamble, and Metro Extra that were testing elements of the PE each trying to capitalize on a key strength of the Engine, it hits when the Other Guy is in position to execute the TACT.  The article notes that these technologies work . . .

when and where consumers are closer to making a purchase: in the store . . . In the latest effort to tailor ads to specific consumers, marketers are starting to personalize in-store promotions based on products the consumer recently picked off a shelf or purchased — and in the near future, based on what the shopper looks like.

This 2008 example illustrates the key feature of a persuasion engine:  Real time modification of a persuasive message based on understanding a specific Other Guy.  It also spotlights a crucial application of the engine:  In front of the TACT.