Everything is a #Ad

Alright, maybe not EVERYTHING, but let's talk advertising for a minute. 

Defining Advertising

the activity or profession of producing advertisements for commercial products or services.
"movie audiences are receptive to advertising"

Advertisement can come in many forms - it's often the ones that are most blatant that we dislike, and sometimes outright seek to remove or publicly shame. The first thing that I download on any new computer is Adblock - it makes the interwebs just so much prettier, easier to interact with, and downright enjoyable.

Fun Fact: Did you know that John B. Watson the very "father of behaviorism" actually left psychology formally and went into marketing and advertising? 

So why do people do this? 

It works. It's that simple. Really. In my personal experience - it works to varying degrees based on a lot of factors which give you a ratio or percentage based on various psychographics and demographics that help you understand what works where and with whom. Throughout the pursuit of dissemination projects like Why We Do What We Do, progressive projects like our Revolution Summits, etc. I've found a lot of value in the different perspectives outside our field (e.g., marketing, HR), as well as data streams that I previously hadn't interacted with that are starting to make more and more sense (there's more data than time to analyze to be quite honest). This has lead to understanding marketing from two perspectives.

On Side of the Coin: Annoying

There's plenty of thoughts and data out there that suggest traditional advertising methods began their downward spiral as soon as the digital age came about over 20 years ago. (Dan Curran of Hubspot) This seems largely true, and if anything has forced people to be more creative in the ways that they are reaching out to their audiences. Take this blurb from a marketing and sales company: 

" More than half of consumers feel ads are insulting to their intelligence, according to research by HubSpot and AdBlock Plus. Another 63% feel most of these ads don’t look professional. If that doesn’t convince you of the futility of online advertising, maybe this will: Just 7% of consumers find them compelling. Online ads are not just hard to like -- they’re deceptive, unimaginative, inefficient, and ineffective." - Dan Curran of Hubspot

I can totally relate to this, and it's part of why I am exploring this world of content creation - it seems to be the path (there's plenty of proprietary data to support this), and it's a hell of a lot of fun to create and learn on the technical side of it all. 

The Other Side of the Coin: Progressive

The other perspective that I have for any ad - no matter how poorly or well-created - is the sheer empathy and support for the person that put their time into creating that content. It's extremely time consuming, it's really hard to figure out what medium you can succeed in, and it's even harder to find "your voice" or what you have to say/contribute to the world. 

So where did this all come from? First of all - I wish I saw a little more support in our community when it came to people trying to disseminate and build needed services in the behavioral world. It's too often that we see each other as enemies as opposed to proponents of each other. 

Public Forums

However, there's a third, "hidden," perspective. Advertising is everywhere - and I think we sometimes don't realize that it's happening. Let's look at some of the public forums that are utilized as a way to communicate with others interested in the science of behavior. You have:

This post isn’t meant to dive into the ethical side of using these public forums as a place to discuss professional matters. However, there’s a practical point to note, that I think many users (and moderators) of forum-like discussion grounds could benefit in discussing further. I'll be the first to say it's not an easy task, but it's one that our field is in a cool position to understand and could help potentially disseminate best-practices for other industries. Let's take a sample from advertising within these public forums.

The Rules for Engagement

Function vs. Topography

A common practice for any forum is to outline the rules for engagement. They come in all shapes and forms, often asking for limited or no advertisement, as well as general strategies of how to engage with and get the most out of the group. All of these are reasonable, and required to maintain order within the group. I think they are needed, but also require that we put a little more thought into the system. For example, modern advertising practices suggest that developing content (e.g., engaging in these forums in a coherent, non-trolling, and progressive way) is encouraged quite often, even in the forums that specifically call for no direct advertisement. Most of the rules that forums enforce are based on the form of the behavior itself. If it includes things that “look” like ads, well, then it’s not allowed. But what about function? Isn’t that the basis of behavioral science? That behavior has a bi-directional effect on the environment and that interaction (not just the form) is where the understanding lies?

    Subtle "Intentions" Build Branding*

    Here's a few things I've noticed on each of these public forums (read: they occur across tools/apps) that I outlined below. These are just some observations to be quite frank. I'm not saying that they are particularly good or bad.  

    • Many of these are extensions of various professional entities - many of the listservs and facebook pages are extensions of the Association for Behavior Analysis International
    • Many of the moderators are extensions of some sort of professional entity (or multiple) - a quick google search or social dive will typically turn this up in a few minutes
    • Some of them are controlled by a single person 
    • Some, definitely not all, but some of them have things to sell to the world beyond their advice or suggestions in the public forum

    What's interesting to my is that it seems that the ideal form of engagement called for by moderators and the larger community are the forms that don't directly *look* like advertise per se, but are often times actually following practices that have shown to work in the modern advertising landscape (i.e., they function in similar ways). I'm not sure what this blog is really intending - it's part venting, part an observation, pert something else (is this also a #ad?). I think the easiest place to start understanding this more is through the metrics provided on the various platforms. Most of which I don't have access to. Perhaps we can call for an open discussion or platform in which these metrics are shared when the goal is a public forum where everyone benefits, and maybe include some of the science as well (e.g., Ostrom's 8 Principles)? It seems that most of our forums aren't as much data driven as the perhaps could be, even though that's one of the strongest things that our field has a perspective and understanding of... but that's just one man's opinion from the inside of similar systems.

    I challenge you to step back and think about everything you move towards (e.g., those you like to be around, the products you consume), the institution that you studied or want to study at, the device that you're reading this on, that test prep company that you're looking to sign up with, etc. How did you end up with that product? Was it a traditional advertisement, was it through continual contact with something that provided you some sort of value?

    Everything is a #Ad


    Until next time <3 RYANO

    *I continue to engage with many of these forums - this post is a means of discussion and urge for advancement. It's written with love, and I hope that it comes off that way - because while playing the the fact that this is in fact likely an ad for something, it's something that we could all benefit from collaborating on and understanding further.


    Ryan O’Donnell, MS, BCBA

    Affiliation: RYANO, LLC


    Bio: Ryan O'Donnell hails from northern Nevada in the grungy, yet surprisingly classy, (and newly renovated) Reno, Nevada . He likes his climate like he likes his data: evolving, uncompromising, and progressive. He is a master of science; that is, he has a M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis, however he has since grown to include many other interests, including entrepreneurship and capturing perspectives and stories through various mediums. He has used this degree to work with a lot of great people to help organizations and families in Florida and Nevada that support people with Intellectual Disabilities. Currently he leads product development and distribution for High Sierra Industries as a Learning Systems Development Specialist. His focus outside this role is on building a community of thought leaders and doers to create content that increases the transparency of behavior analytic technologies with the hopes of creating a platform that truly saves the world. His interests are all over, from artificial intelligence and machine learning applications to the theory and philosophy behind Why We Do What We Do (wwdwwdpodcast.com). In his spare time you can find him consuming social media, prepping/climbing a giant mountain, or walking around with his camera in his hand (and, occasionally, all simultaneously). Connect with him on most all social platforms via TheRyanoDotCom and let him know what drives you to pursue the Behavior Analysis vision.


    That's right! Next Gen Revolution Summit Miami and Online is ALL SET.  


    Miami, Florida, USA


    The LAB Miami

    400 NW 26th St, Miami, FL 33127


    Friday, November 10th, 2017: Optional Meet 'n' Greet for all registered attendees

    Saturday, November 11th, 2017: 8am-6pm - Official Revolution Summit Event for all registered attendees

    Saturday, November 11th, 2017: 6pm - 10pm Wynwood Artwalk and Social open to the public. The Artwalk is for all generations and backgrounds, and just so happens to occur right after our event! Learn more here.

    The Full Lineup

    Scroll Through to Learn More About Our Stellar Lineup

    Check out the full program and buy tickets below.


    That's right. You don't have to be in Miami to experience the awesomeness and you can watch it on your own time afterward.

    Direct Questions to info@nextgenrevolutionsummit.com | 775.639.8436