Can it be that Google said - Too hard let's go home?

Is advertising better managed than engineering ?

I want to consider this apparently absurd notion in light of three quotations of wisdom that people find at first slightly ironic. Each of these rings a bell of obvious inner truth that we recognize instantly and trust.

So as a passionate engineer I will argue that yes - advertising is better managed than engineering (buckle up ! ) ...

English: John Wanamaker
John Wanamaker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dripping with Irony

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half!"


John Wanamaker, Postmaster General of the US Postal Service

When I first the read this quote I remember thinking at that it was utterly ridiculous and reflected the ludicrous waste thrown at marketing that shows no benefit. I was young and foolish. It seemed to be an admission of ignorance from a man who should have certainly known better - and it was!  This integrity takes a self-certitude and openness for negative criticism that we should strive for - it was also probably said in tones that dripped with irony. 

The men of Madison Avenue took this message to heart and it is harder now to find a more evidence based industry than the advertising industry is today. Analytics, capable of tracking to the thousandth of a penny the value of each click on an a webpage anywhere, what is more attribution occurs to the clicker of the mouse regarding specific interests and meanwhile rewards the web-site host and charges the advertising campaign fully automatically. and that's just the tracking, what about the keywords, search optimization ranking, campaign planning and so on. 

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Clearly the creative side of advertising remains a somewhat black art, but A|B testing and other statistical tools unquestionably tighten the noose further each week around the consumer who is to be hung up by his feet to and have the loose change rattled from their pocket. 

So is advertising the absurdity it used to be - to an extent yes, but only in the unfathomable creative elements.


Most people pretend to ignore adverts and if not, they ridicule the idea that their strong minds may be persuaded or convinced by the marketing men of Madison Avenue. 

These men (and women), with their evidence have fought back, against ignorance and ridicule and now they are rich. 

Now they are Google. 


"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."

Mahatma Gandhi



Computation is not everything.



"The destiny of man is not measured by material computation. 

When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we 
English: Sir Winston Churchill.
Sir Winston Churchill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

are spirits - not animals"

Winston Churchill

We face a far bigger problem than John did 150 years ago. A manager of buildings faces it very directly. It is thought that buildings waste 30% - 40% of the energy they consume, but we don't know in which buildings or why. 

To be clear at least 30% of $1,500,000,000,000 lost per year - and we don't know where it is.

"not measured by material computation"

Naturally, global advertising revenues at USD $450 Billion (Gartner/Magna) are only 'small beer' beside the three times larger spend on energy in buildings; but while size matters, two other differences stand out as being interesting and perhaps even more bizarre.

Advertising may by turns be; entertaining, informative, deeply offensive or irritating, but it is hard to ignore. However advertising is not the cause of a global crisis accepted by nations to have potentially apocalyptic implications.

Energy waste is.

Energy waste is the cause of a global crisis accepted by nations to have potentially apocalyptic implications.

This makes the third big difference quite remarkable... As mentioned the flow of trifling advertising revenues is tracked over countless web pages with detailed metrics and by optimization analysis is free. By contrast nobody even knows if energy waste in buildings exceeds USD $500B or twice that amount!

tl;dr:

Nobody knows if energy waste exceeds USD $500B or is twice that amount!

This issue is so grave that $250B of uncertainty in recurring costs is of only marginal interest to the bigger picture. These figures go unchallenged by international communities for want even of an adopted definition. And this is truly remarkable...

Countries who would happily argue for two and a half years regarding the shape of a table when discussing the cessation of bombing during the Vietnamese war are happy to stipulate - yup energy waste is about $500B in buildings give or take $250 Billion !
http://www.ontheissues.org/international/John_McCain_War_+_Peace.htm 

And the details are even less clear!

Energy management is not “sexy” - and perhaps never will be. It may be a while before a TV series called “The Energy Managers” is made or becomes the Zeit-Geist. 

Waste requires expertise for diagnosis and prevention. It arises spontaneously, it is not generally visible and it requires mathematics, engineering and experience to recognise it.

It occurs in dirty, dangerous and inaccessible parts of buildings. There is no epidemiology and current operational costs of buildings are dependent on conditions unique to their physical location and structure. It is a tough problem for geeks and they have to be geeks that don't mind getting dirty and pragmatic  ( which geeks famously avoid - Sheldon ! )

The only viable approach to waste involves triage of known problems and screening for new problems. Both are expensive. 

Expert methods can objectively identify waste problems but do not scale as they depend on site visits. The major implication is that expert services have never been available to the sector where the absolute volume of waste is probably highest; retail, small-office and public buildings.

A typical meter may track around USD$ 6,000 average value per annum at current prices in these buildings. Waste is simply assumed to be evenly distributed amongst buildings – because no better knowledge is available.

By 2008 Google believed 7% of US homes had smart-meters, which allow remote awareness of consumption but not waste. However, the rate of adoption is now accelerating. 17.4M Smart Metering units were shipped during Q1, 2011 and turnover is expected to reach $7B turnover in 2012.

This emergent industry can be an enabler for scalable screening, but smart-metering alone (without intelligent interpretation) has yet to show statistically significant benefits. 

None-the-less smart-metering is the fastest growing cost attribution technology ever.  

Smart-metering is the fastest growing cost attribution technology ever. 

However it is technically complex, highly politicised and a regionally diverse market. Were these the issues lead to Google withdrawing their two year bid to secure leading market share with their PowerMeter product in June 2011.  

Can it be that Google said - Too hard let's go home ?


I don't know I cannot begin to guess. But I do know that the value of global energy consumed in buildings is around USD $1.5Trillion. Perhaps this is not strategically interesting to Google as it bears little relation to their core competences, provides no moat from which to defend their advertising castle. Or perhaps it was just too tough a nut to crack.

We have only broken down just one small part of the problem, kWIQly is the first technology and we believe the only internationally available product on the global market that reliably distinguishes provably avoidable waste from apparently necessary use in buildings within the following constraints.

That no site visits or surveys are needed and data from a single smart-meter reading point per utility is required, and value starts to be delivered as soon as one month of data is available. This means we can offer very low cost scalable services that help building operators if we have their data available.

Despite energy waste being at the very core of a global crisis it continues unabated.

Intelligence or IQ about power and its' use is needed urgently, hence the name : kWIQly.

So in concluson I do believe advertising has been far better managed than energy - until now - and I do not know what the future will bring.

I do know that "At first they ignored us ... 

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