A question of the ages: If Friedrich Nietzsche were a PPC, how would he PPC? Nietzsche himself probably paced the halls of the University of Basel wondering, if an all-encompassing knowledge machine existed and he was tasked with ensuring that normies using the all-encompassing knowledge machine would see the results that he (or his patrons?) wants them to see… how would he go about doing so?

Well, Nietzsche wrote in a sophisticated and–surprisingly to me, the first time I read it–funny way on lots of topics, and today we will focus on one aspect, which is actually the first thing I ever learned about Nietzsche, as a wee-little college freshman eons ago: the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

Here’s this insight of Nietzsche’s, which is first articulated in the Birth of Tragedy (which, if I wanted to be a pretentious d—, I would refer to as Die Geburt der Tragödie) in a nutshell. That literature, and critically like society around it, has two poles and vacillates between the two: one side where we are logical, ordered, calm, and wise (that’s the Apollonian side, guess which deity its named after?) and another that is instinctual, emotional, impulse-driven and chaotic (that’s the Dionysian side, and guess which drunken god that one is named after?). Ultimately we need a balance and both sides are important, including each side accepting the necessity of the other side. To be truly wise, in other words, we can’t only focus on logic-logic-logic, but have to accept our irrational, even drunken, side. Indeed, the downfall of classic Athenian society, he argued, was because they became too Apollonian, aka, logical! (Note to self: I must remember to reference this every time someone tells me they are truly logical, particularly if I want to sound like a pretentious d—. And no, I’m not looking at you, dear reader, since you strike the perfect balance!)

So, let’s apply this to running a PPC or SEM campaign now. I would classify all PPCs as being in one of these two PPC styles–although, of course, you, reader reader, still strike the perfect balance.

One the one hand, we have Apollonian campaigns. This is how almost all PPCs market and position themselves. We are data, data, data focused. We run perfectly statistically-significant multivariate testing. We will present you reports with lots of numbers. The best of them add another level on top of that: we interpret and analyze the data rather than blindly follow the numbers.

On the other hand, we also have Dionysian campaigns. While none of you (dear readers) would admit publicly to running them: I know you do. Perhaps because the Apollonian style is more marketing than reality; it’s what clients want to hear. (At least your target clients.) Perhaps because truly being Apollonian all the time is hard. Perhaps because true creatives do have intensely wild sides to them that is not just an outlet for them but core to their creativity.

But the need for the Dionysian side to running a campaign is stronger than that. You need positioning concepts, you need ad concepts, you need targeting concepts, you need non-obvious ways to go after your target demographic–because the most obvious ways will–tautologically–by the most expensive since everyone under the sun and his/her brother/sister/sibling will using that method.

In conclusion, at least in regards to this, Nietzsche would be a great PPC. He will know to balance both sides. Would Nietzsche’s famous belief in the Übermensch help him or hurt him as a PPC? We’ll take a look another day!