The last thing I ever expected to attempt to write was a dictionary.
As I started to write it, it turned out not to be a dictionary at all. A dictionary provides
meanings. With my newest project, I am attempting to offer meaning.
How can you understand marketing today from a practical perspective? When you see a
word like “impression,” “programmatic,” or “unique,” what does it mean? What is the significance?
Do these terms make any sense at all?
One approach is to define terminology with the authority of a governing body, like editors of
an established dictionary or officers of an industry trade association. Another is to crowdsource
ideas, such as in a wiki. Wikipedia offers definitions for most of the terms and concepts
that follow; at times, I’ve cross-checked my work with Wikipedia and cited the crowd’s
wisdom when appropriate.
Both the authoritative and crowdsourced approaches feel too distant and inert. They must
settle on language that pleases everyone.
Instead, I use the rough format of a dictionary to share more personal perspectives – perspectives
that may please no one. They are completely unauthoritative. They are biased.
Experts in their field who understand any given concept better than I do will quickly conclude
that I have no business writing any of this.
That’s a fair assessment.
For much of my career, I’ve been the dumbest person in the room trying to keep up, and
in the process, I’ve been connecting concepts and ideas in ways that give the smarter people
around me a different point of view. Occasionally, that even leads to insight (see also:
Insights). It’s been my modus operandi for two decades in practically every meeting I’ve
attended, column I’ve written, and conference where I’ve spoken.
When it works, it’s like a moment out of the end of an episode of Columbo. When it doesn’t,
there’s little harm done, as I remain the dumbest one in the room. It’s a form of thinking out
loud, learning by doing, and having fun trying, flipping the focus from the destination to the
Thank you for joining me on this journey, one that is just getting started.
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