What can you say dear reader…
Both Facecrook and Floptus use full page press advertising to try to rebuild credibility.
Who do you trust – certainly not the digital channels that’s for sure…
Who’d call themselves a digital marketer these days? As the evidence continues to grow about the lies, deceit, appalling ROI, as well as agency bias towards digital at the expense of better performing channels, it’s become embarrassing to claim you only have digital marketing skills.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Lone voices in the wilderness have been warning for more than a decade that the digital chooks would come home to roost. Though their voices have largely been ignored.
The real reason so much digital marketing fails is simple – the people working in it don’t have the right marketing skills.
The evidence is plain to see in the online advertising space. Most online ads are brand ads not direct response ads, yet the internet is a pure direct response channel.
Fact – the internet is primarily a direct response channel. Online marketing is just direct marketing, albeit at a much faster pace than analogue channels.
You wouldn’t run a brand ad in a newspaper or on TV, then measure its success using direct marketing metrics. So why run brand ads online and expect direct responses? But this is exactly what the brand marketers do every day.
FYI direct marketers are making money online – have been since day one. But they are not running brand advertising to do so. They have tested the different emerging channels and ads. They avoid those channels that don’t work. In most cases these are the social channels.
They rarely use programmatic buying. They deal direct with the publishers. This is how they’ve always worked with analogue channels, so they already have the expertise to succeed in online channels – evolution, not revolution.
But the marketers who dominate online advertising are mostly brand marketers and that digital peculiarity, the fake marketer. They were lured by the magic of its measurability.
Unlike direct marketers, they had no prior experience of direct response measurement. The “response drug” in the form of open-rates, click-through rates, time on page, downloads and (occasionally) sales, hooked them like teenagers having their first drink. This measurability stuff was the secret marketing hooch they craved.
And just because measurability was new to them, they assumed it was new to the world.
So they rushed headlong into the online advertising world completely ill-equipped for success. To cover up this lack of expertise, they created new buzzwords to describe alleged new marketing tactics – despite these tactics being centuries-old.
To help position themselves, they used virtue signals, to manufacture FOMO. Direct marketing was called old-fashioned, implying it was irrelevant. Some even made the stupid claim that DM no longer exists (really, some fools stated such crap). All it did was reflect their lack of marketing expertise.
For those who might be confused, direct marketing (or direct response advertising) is any marketing activity whereby you communicate directly to individual customers and prospects, or they respond directly to you, in any media channel. The outcome of the communication is that there is always a measured exchange, of either dollars or data, or both.
For example, the customer provides their credit card and in return they get a case of wine, or they provide their contact details, in exchange for an email newsletter.
Branding for branding’s sake, is a secondary priority with a direct response message.
But here’s the rub with direct marketing…
You are trying to get prospects who may or may not know your brand, to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it – take immediate action and respond.
That’s hard shit and requires some specialist skills, the least of which is the ability to write persuasively.
Yet the majority of people working in digital marketing have no direct marketing expertise. If they did, they wouldn’t have invented fake vanity metrics such as likes, and shares, to justify their credibility.
The brand and fake marketers have misunderstood the digital channels
Direct response is definitely not the way to sell fast moving consumer goods, in single unit sales. Why it took P&G until last year, at a cost of $Billions, to realise this fact, is a mystery.
The only reason to use direct response for packaged goods, is to sell a continuity programme or subscription. For example, that digital darling, the Dollar Shaver Club is a direct marketer and uses direct response advertising to sell subscriptions. Both analogue and digital wine clubs also sell wine by subscription.
The process is known as “negative-option” and I’ve written about it before. The marketer delivers products on a regular basis, say monthly, until the customer says “stop”. This is a way of marketing that is more than 100 years old and goes back to the days of mail-order. It’s not new just because we have an internet.
The more they failed the more they created spreadsheets of bullshit
These “digital marketers” tried to justify the poor branding results with vanity metrics. They even created jargon such as “customer engagement” to make the metrics appear genuine. When the vanity metrics failed, they just increased their tracking to create even more spreadsheets of bullshit. They attempted to confuse the world with useless data to convince us they were legitimate.
Sorry folks, but data without dollars is just doo-doo.
The tracking eventually became stalking as they desperately tried to get sales, from ads that didn’t sell, to people who didn’t want to buy. Have you ever seen a grocer chase a customer out the door shouting offers at them, just because the customer picked up a lemon then put it back without buying? Welcome to the world of remarketing – placing cigarette burns on your customers long after they’ve left you.
Read Bob Hoffman’s brilliant Badmen for the appalling truth of the tracking, stalking and the fake world of online metrics.
Playing in the fringes
Any direct marketer will tell you, when you are marketing to a mass audience and chasing a response, you are always playing in the fringes. You don’t know when people are going to buy. That’s why you need to give them as much information as possible, plus some incentive, to help them make a decision in your favour.
Here’s an example. If a product is only bought once-a-year, then on average, in any single week, only 2% of the annual market is buying – 50 weeks PA x 2% = 100%.
This means if you deliver say, a direct response insurance ad to 100 people (and you don’t know their renewal date) then on a good day, you could expect at best maybe 2 people to buy – assuming you capture 100% of the 2% of people in the market that week. You’ll be partying like its 1999 just because you made two sales. It’s pretty obvious to see why trying to sell single bottles of shampoo via digital channels won’t be profitable.
Given this market reality and the complete lack of involvement in online ads by website visitors, marketers should not be surprised that online ads rarely get one tenth of sweet FA worth of clicks. Any direct marketer worth their salt could have told them these ads wouldn’t pay off.
If you’re a mass marketer, in most situations, you’re generally better off not running ads online.
If you really want to do brand advertising, change the way you buy media and dominate web pages for long periods to create awareness. Do not simply run an online brand ad and measure it by impressions or click-through rates. Measure it as you would the ads in other channels. And never rate vanity metrics such as likes or shares or customer engagement. You’ll just waste your money.
Once you build your database you can then encourage your customers and prospects to download your app. Then you can gradually reduce how much you spend with online advertising, as more of your audience migrates to your app. You’ll still need to advertise though – read Byron Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” to learn why.
To get your customers and prospects to switch to your app, you’ll obviously need an incentive.
Where are those steak knives?
Originally published 2016…
Any marketer, advertising agent, researcher or social scientist worth their salt, knows for any marketing content to resonate with, let alone influence, the typical punter, it must be consumed numerous times in a short space of time. Seeing something just once, rarely makes a serious impression (though it is rated as such in media terms – an impression that is).
Unless the message is designed as a direct response message, giving prospects all the information they need to ‘act now’, most marketing messages hardly penetrate our grey matter if only seen once.
Just look at the way we learn at school – through repetition. A message has to be repeatedly consumed for it to eventually make it through our distracted craniums and finally embed itself into our conscience. This is called learning. It’s a rare human indeed, who can read or view something only once and then remember the content.
So what does this mean in the world of digital chewing gum for the brain? This is the world where the people mostly share content in social channels, which requires less than a metaphorical chew to consume. The receivers of said content quickly scan it, dismiss it, then start to chew on the next piece of content, ad infinitum.
The majority of content shared by consumers is mostly images, video, memes, jokes, fundraising appeals and personal stories. People rarely share words or phrases, particularly lots of words like those populating ebooks, whitepapers, brochures and the like. Of course people communicate back and forth using words, but it’s not sharing in the content marketing sense.
The act of sharing on social media often has less to do with the content being shared and more to do with narcissism. “Look at me, I’m sharing this before anyone else” or “look at me I’m sharing something – how many likes did it get?” or “look at me, I liked something”. Though sharing in business channels can have less selfish motivations.
The average adult attention span is now roughly 8 seconds (just less than a goldfish) and ASS Times keep getting shorter and shorter – less than 1 second for many image-based channels like Instagram. So the ability for any snack-size marketing content to resonate at all in the memory of consumers, is nigh impossible. Did you like that piece of digi-jargon – “snack-size”?
And what about all that thought leadership content floating in cyberspace? At best, much of it remains in the ‘download folder’ of computers, because we’re too busy to print it or consume it in any depth. It’s why good quality email messages to opt-in subscriber lists, along with blogs, are still the best performing content online.
Ironically the content marketing failure is being driven by the content itself and FOMO. I’ve talked about the infobesity problem before. The average punter is waterboarded with content from friends, strangers, government, institutions and brands every second of the day. Add to this deluge, the modern dilemma of FOMO forcing consumers to have minimal engagement with content, and you can see why brands gain almost zero benefit.
Consumers know there’s loads more content coming down the digital pipe and they don’t want to miss it. So they quickly and disengagingly ‘like’ something, or ignore it, before moving to the next set of pixels.
Just as we chew gum without thinking and then spit it out, it’s the same with content. We consume it without thinking and with almost zero emotional engagement. We swipe, pause, swipe – in a constant process to churn through the non-stop current of content. And the pause is usually shorter than the time it takes to spell ‘pause’. And even if consumers do take a few seconds to read or view your content once, will it really make a lasting impression?
Hmmm that reminds me, I’d better check my emails. Oh look there’s a dog…
P.S. Please feel free to share this content with as many as you like:)
If you work in marketing you know that thanks to the internet and digital technology, the whole world has changed spectacularly. Human DNA has completely morphed. As consumers, we humans have suddenly stopped our centuries-old behaviour and now act entirely differently in every way, particularly when it comes to buying stuff.
Not only that, but everything that ever worked in marketing prior to last week, no longer works today. “Marketing has changed forever” is the gospel according to the fake marketers.
And these fake marketers have successfully used virtue signals to con the marketing industry into believing this gospel. Every week they claim there are new rules for everything marketing. Apparently, these new rules are so “disruptive”, that only those in the secret priesthood of fake marketers, possess the unique knowledge to understand them. Like the weavers of the Emperor’s new clothes, they claim you’re unfit as a marketer if you can’t see what they can.
The virtue signallers play on FOMO and hide behind a bizzare myth that because this new marketing is done via computers, then “traditional marketers” have no idea how it works. Only the fake marketers masquerading as digital marketers can deliver the future of marketing. So roll up, roll up and get your digital snake oil, before you go out of business.
In case you’re curious, Virtue Signalling is the conspicuous expression of moral values done primarily with the intent of enhancing standing within a social group.
In the marketing world, virtue signalling is the conspicuous expression of marketing myths and B.S. done primarily with the intent of faking marketing expertise to enhance standing within the marketing industry.
The virtue signals come in numerous forms, but mainly they are fake claims, silly buzzwords, fake economies and fabricated expertise. You hear the signals in meetings and seminars, and read them in blogs, articles and social channels. One common element among the virtue signallers is their complete lack of real marketing expertise. They just shovel virtue signals in the hope of manufacturing some credibility and fertilising their reputations.
These are typical of the fake claims:
The jargon monkeys love their buzzwords and acronyms. You’ll know many of them like these:
Even more shady are the whole new economies that are allegedly revolutionising marketing:
The only economies these support, are the financial economies of each author who manufactured the economic term and published a book to fake legitimacy. By playing on FOMO they charge a fortune for alleged insights into their secret economic sauce, while doing the rounds of the marketing industry and seminar circuit sprouting their virtue signals.
Finally, there is the thought leader industry – because that’s what it is, an industry. There’s almost no legitimate thought leadership. Hire a virtual assistant/slave in a third-world country to ghost write a book, pay an SEO expert to own a few related keywords, and publish an article to stake your claim to expertise.
Some even label themselves some kind of influencer such as Linkfluencer, Socialfluencer and the like. I attended a fluencer’s webinar and couldn’t believe the dross being peddled. Apparently these are the 3 keys to success on LinkedIn:
The “fluencer” running the event thought it was an amazing achievement to be published in online business press – the machine that demands content to keep itself fresh. Any marketer worth their salt is regularly published in business press, thanks to their PR company, or the sheer fact they are a legitimate expert. Being in the media is standard operating procedure for marketers. So to get excited because your article gets a run, is at best sad and really quite naive.
Another fluencer shared their secret to becoming an influencer on LinkedIn. Before you post an article, invite all your contacts to like and share your article immediately it is posted. This will fool the algorithm into thinking your article is popular and help improve your influencer standing within LinkedIn. Sad but true. To be seen as an influencer you have to get colleagues to help you scam the system.
Why not just be bloody good at your job and share legitimate expertise, base on years of real experience? Or possibly just tell the truth?
Maybe they should be called “effluencers“?
Luckily there are still some of us living in the real world and we know the opposite of these virtue signals is true. Just look at the disgrace the digital media industry has become. The fake numbers supplied by Facecrook, Google, You Tube, Instagram and Twitter have stunned marketers who have spent valuable shareholder’s, or their own funds, in these channels.
So to save you from virtue signal confusion, here are some facts:
Curiously, not one consumer packaged goods brand has been launched successfully using digital media. All new brands, particularly online brands, rely heavily on old-fashioned advertising and public relations for sales, and to get third parties talking about them. Just watch any television show to view the plethora of ads for online travel, insurance and hotel aggregators, home delivery services, online financial services, Google, Apple, et al.
Unfortunately, just when the momentum to fix the problems created by the fake marketers is growing, it seems Google, P&G and Unilever’s management are becoming virtue signallers, rather than solving the problem. Check out Bob Hoffman’s expose here.
Though in a positive step, more companies are removing the word “digital” from marketing job titles. They’ve finally realised it’s all just marketing, regardless of channel or technology.
Here’s a signal to consider – spend your marketing budget as if it was your own money, promoting your business, so the profits feed your family. You’ll be amazed at how you start to ignore the virtue signals and focus your thinking on what really works in marketing.
Gotta go now. Am working on an AI blockchain cryptocurrency VR app. It’s going to revolutionise marketing forever…
Local ad industry legend and author, Bryce Courtney (deceased) used to write a weekly newspaper column called The Marketing Pitch.
In today’s buzzword-filled fake marketing industry, his articles would probably be labelled as “thought leadership delivered as part of a content marketing strategy, designed to increase customer engagement using earned media” – though I believe he was paid to write the opinion pieces, which would technically make it journalism.
In the real marketing world, his column is simply known as publicity.
I recently found this article titled “Today’s women are in a decidedly ugly mood“. It could never run today, but it shows how much the industry has changed in the last 25 years.
Imagine trying to publish this sentence today; “Hasn’t someone told a young woman that life is not a dress rehearsal and that you only get a few short years to be pretty and plenty of time after that to be plain looking?”
It was a different time back then. Click on the image to read the full article:
Edited since posting on 5th February:
Longtime readers of this missive, will be aware I post annually about the longest hour of the year – the Super Bowl.
It’s one of the marketing industry’s favourite events, apart from award shows. The accompanying statistics are always interesting too. The tonnes of chicken wings and hot dogs consumed, along with lakes of beer guzzled, always makes fascinating reading.
But there is one statistic I find most interesting. It’s the percentage of repeat purchase by marketers that advertised the previous year. In simple terms, here are the numbers:
2017 – 54 advertisers
2018 – 42 advertisers
Two things to note. The first is the drop in number of brands advertising. The number fell from 54 in 2017 to 42 in 2018. This is a decline of roughly 22%.
Secondly, is the number of repeat advertisers from 2017 to 2018. Only 17 brands backed up again in 2018. This equates to roughly 31% of 2017’s advertisers.
Or in other words, almost 70% of last year’s advertisers, did not return this year.
I’m not sure about you dear reader, but if I was selling a media opportunity that only occurred once a year, and only 30% of my customers returned for a repeat purchase, I’d be a tad concerned. But that’s just me.
I suppose if they sell all the space at an increasing rate, who cares if customers don’t come back? There’s always another sucker ready to believe the sales pitch.
Though I also get a kick (excuse the football pun) out of the fact that marketers use good old-fashioned public relations to promote their Superbowl ads. For those who’ve only worked in marketing for five minutes, that’s what you may know as earned media. Go figure, a marketer uses publicity to promote its ads. What’s old is new again, again.
I’ve also just learned of another alarming statistic:
64% of Super Bowl viewers are unable to connect a memorable ad to the brand it was advertising.
Research consultancy Communicus has been tracking and trying to measure the success of Super Bowl advertising for a number of years. Their latest research revealed 64% of Super Bowl viewers are unable to connect a memorable ad to the brand it was advertising.
It also revealed less than 20% of Super Bowl ads produce significant impact on the brand.
If this is correct, the obvious conclusion for advertising in the Superbowl, is that entertainment alone is not enough. When measuring the sucess of their Super Bowl advertising, marketers should focus on mental availability. Byron Sharp popularised the concept of mental availability. It is “the probability that a buyer will notice, recognise and/or think of a brand in buying situations.”
I won’t go into it any further here, but check out Byron Sharp’s book How Brands Grow for more insights.
I’m also confident that again this year there will be the usual over-hyping of how many people watched the game on mobile devices. It will be more people than 2017. And am sure the numbers will be almost statistically insignificant in the scheme of things. Television has no reason to be concerned.
Besides, there are dangers to watching a small screen when going to the loo at half-time, after sucking back all those Budweisers…
And just because he is always spot-on accurate with his cartoon interpretations, here are a few of The Marketoonist’s classics about Super Bowl advertising:
Gotta go, I can hear the delivery van backing up to drop off the 100-kilo family pack of buffalo wings and hot dogs…
There is no other industry in the world more hooked on the drug of jargon, than the marketing industry.
We are constantly inventing meaningless new terms for the same old thing. For example, earned media = publicity. Omni-channel = multi-channel. And so on…
One reason for this, is that people new to marketing (digital marketers) believe marketing was only invented five days ago and everything new to them is new to the world. My friend Drayton Bird demonstrated this in NZ recently.
Another example of our jargon-based mentality is the word the industry has recently manufactured for “dishonesty“. Its use reflects appallingly on the whole marketing industry. Rather than admitting that the industry, particularly the digital marketing segment, is chock-full of cyber-hustlers, liars and money-grabbing spivs, we’ve avoided stating the truth and instead, created a buzzword.
In the marketing industry “dishonesty” is now known as “transparency“. And this buzzword is being flogged to death in talkfests as the amazing solution to dishonesty, even though dishonesty is never mentioned.
In his weekly newsletter, Bob Hoffman recently wrote that Transparency is the phoney flavour of the month. He highlighted how talking about transparency, rather than transparency itself, is all that the industry is doing, giving these examples:
As Bob asked – Was there a parade? Did you have a Transparency Eve party?
As we all now know folks, the major publisher platforms and sellers of digital advertising have been lying for years. And now they’ve been caught with their hands in the till. But instead of admitting they are dishonest, conducting mass sackings of the people involved and cleaning up the system, they’ve created a buzzword – transparency.
Now everyone in the industry must worship at the altar of transparency, using the George Costanza belief system- it’s not a lie if you believe it.
And the industry prophets deem we must have even more transparency. A whole transparency industry is spawning. An Institute of Transparency will be created. Seminars, white papers, thought leadership and books will be published about transparency.
Explainer videos and transparency personas will abound. And like the cyber-hustlers who call themselves Linkfluencers or Socialfluencers, there will now be Transparinfluencers to guide you on your transparency journey.
Once enough noise is made to completely blur the truth, transparency will transform into the goddess of honesty. All the negative publicity will disappear. (or should that be, all negative earned media will disappear?).
Reminds me of the mindless followers of The Holy Gourd of Jerusalem in The Life of Brian.
Hallelujah – it’s a transparency miracle!
And like many things digital, nothing will change. The industry will continue to remain dishonest, sorry, I mean transparent. And the digital publishers and sellers will go back to what they do best, making money at the expense of their advertisers.
I think I’ll go watch Brian again, just to cheer me up – where’s my VCR?
Transparently connect to me: www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld
Some of you may have noticed I haven’t blogged for about three months. I decided to take time out to observe the industry through rose coloured glasses and find some positive examples of advertising to share – regardless of channel. I might as well have tried to climb Mt Everest naked. Sorry for that vision folks, but that’s how difficult the task has been.
Because when you stop for a moment and take a gander, the sight is really sad.
I’ve spent most of my life working in marketing in one way or another – as a business owner, running marketing departments, running agencies and educating executives and students. Never in my experience have I known the marketing industry to be so shonky, shoddy, dishonest, artificial, delusional, self-destructive and downright on the nose.
Why would anyone want their children to get a job in marketing? It’s become an embarrassment to say “I work in marketing”. You might as well say “have you met my parole officer?”
The growth in deplorables (to steal a recent popular word) is directly linked to the rise of the digital marketing industry and all the charlatans it has attracted. It seems they’re all drinking the same kool-aid and believing their “owned media” to use a digi-buzzword. Their mantra is one of the oldest on the planet “a sucker is born every minute” and it’s easy to chant when the suckers, sorry marketers, are hooked on FOMO and fashion.
Everywhere you turn there are examples. And it’s been getting worse every year. I produced this parody video in 2011 to promote an event, partly because like many, I couldn’t find any facts to support the outrageous claims about online usage by consumers.
Then this book was a best seller in 2012. I cannot find any similar publications claiming analogue channels to be so dishonest.
The first abuse of a marketing channel was the telephone and this was countered by government and industry with “do not call” registers. The problem with telemarketing was not so much dishonesty, rather it was the frequency of unsolicited calls into people’s homes.
The spiral to dishonesty started with email marketing. The scams, abuse of privacy, illegal use of email addresses, spreading of viruses and frequency of messaging, created so many problems that governments created anti-spam laws as well as data privacy legislation. Email continues to be abused, with most people now having a daily ritual of deleting unsolicited or irrelevant messages.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the marketing industry as we know it today…
The fake internet is growing so fast it will be one of the biggest online industries in less than a decade. Bob Hoffman, another lone but increasingly louder voice in the wilderness, has been very vocal about the fraud in the online advertising industry. In a number of articles, he has revealed that the percentage of clicks on online ads by robots, varies from 30% and up to 90%. Agencies have no way of telling how much “traffic” or “clicks” are by robots, as even the publishers themselves don’t really know. Yet marketers are charged for this fraud.
Then there is the “fake profile” industry. Software can now create social media accounts for anything connected to the internet. So your grandmother’s new fridge, or your sound system running from an app, will be hacked and a profile created using the device’s unique IP address.
The fraudsters then buy fake followers, they cost as little as $2.00 for a thousand, and create a fake following. The “profile” then publishes fake content, either stolen, or created by slaves with no subject expertise, working in Eastern Europe, the subcontinent, or South America. Ad space is then sold on these “fake profile” sites to computerised advertising networks. Marketer’s ads then appear on the sites, with the marketer being none the wiser.
As the system is fully computerised and rarely has a human eye to analyse it, the ability to scam the programmatic ad networks to create fake sites and earn automatic “fake revenue” is huge.
But the digital marketing industry seems uninterested in addressing the issue. One of the drivers behind this lack of interest is that very few marketers care. They never look at their digital analytics. It’s more important to be seen to be “digital” and mediocre, than to be using digital channels profitably. An Australian report suggested more than 60% of senior marketers didn’t bother looking at or using the analytical data their digital marketing generated. So they have no idea what works or what fails.
Media companies have now admitted they have been falsely charging for online advertising and are returning $millions to clients, rather than face messy legal action. Dentsu was the first to raise its guilty hand.
I have one client about to go to court with its global media agency because the agency refuses to use the client’s programmatic advertising account. The reason is simple. The moment the client gets access to the account they will discover how much they have been ripped-off over the terms of the contract to date. It seems the agency is hiding behind a clause in the contract that says bookings must be on its account. The media agency would rather lose the client’s business across the globe than be found guilty of fraud.
Facebook admits it has overstated video viewing by as much as 80%.
Sir Martin Sorrell has called out Google for unwittingly allowing advertisers to subsidise extremist terrorist sites with their advertising.
Proctor & Gamble, the largest media advertiser in the world is threatening to stop advertising online unless the industry starts to act honestly and ditches its self-interest. P&G has already reduced its Facebook spend because it resulted in an appalling loss of revenue and market share.
While French media agency Havas has followed suit and pulled all advertising from Google and the YouTube platform until they “deliver the standards we and our clients expect”.
An active Twitter user is someone who accesses their account once a month – and there are more inactive accounts than active ones. #whybotherwithtwitter
FYI Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn remain the major publishers that continue to refuse independent auditing of their platforms. Whereas all the major analogue publishers have always participated in independent auditing as part of providing a legitimate service to advertisers.
How did it get so bad? I suspect that one reason is the fact so many people claiming to be digital marketers know nothing about marketing and just a little bit about binary coding. They have no respect for marketing, dismissing it as “just part of the process” for anyone who can use a keyboard. Or they’ve read a definitive guide and so have become a definitive expert.
I was in a meeting with a digital marketing manager who stated with authority; “a brand is just the logo taken to the next level“. But he did it with such conviction the juniors in the room took notes – I just shook my head and asked for more coffee, as it was the only drug available.
Creative thinking is not valued. Instead, you just need to Google “world’s best example of…” and then copy the ideas for your client or your brand. The result of following the “God called Google” has been a devaluing of creative talent.
And while BIG DATA is the latest trend, most marketers and their media agencies don’t analyse data. They don’t know what works and what doesn’t. They talk about data and even produce spreadsheets, but they don’t study the data to gain knowledge. Instead, they worship at the social altar of “likes” and “followers” and some nebulous term called “engagement”.
The digital channels allow you to predict the future, so you can make more money, or earn the same amount for a lower spend. They put more knowledge in the palm of marketer’s hands than any other channel. Yet nobody seems to care.
Though here’s what some major advertisers say about social channels after analysing them:
Unilever has said its social media results are about 50% as good as traditional POS advertising and other retail promotions. While Coca Cola ran its usual metrics through its social media and saw no difference in sales as a result of social content. Westfield shopping centres stopped social media advertising, as results and research revealed its customers preferred printed catalogues.
As Bob Hoffman published recently: in a study by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte and Duke University, more than 88% of marketers surveyed said they could find no measurable impact from social media marketing. While Forrester Research reported that only 0.07% of one major brand’s Facebook followers ever engage with one of its posts.
It can probably be best summed up by Coca Cola’s Head of Global Marketing, Marcos de Quinto who said; “Social media is the strategy for those who don’t have a… digital strategy.”
Yet in a recent industry debate with Mark Ritson about social media, Adam Ferrier, one of Australia’s brightest advertising talents, said “…These other two businesses – Uber and Airbnb – would not exist without social media.” I can only assume he said it because he was forced to support his side of the debate, as nothing could be further from the truth.
Uber has mainly used traditional public relations in mainstream media, plus social media to create awareness. Though as revealed here, Uber’s secret new business tool is good old-fashioned print. While Airbnb is a major user of TV advertising, email, network marketing, print and most recently talk-back radio targeting pensioners. The radio ads use pensioners to encourage other pensioners to top up their pensions by becoming an Airbnb host – strangely it says nothing about tax implications? Just as Airbnb pays no tax in our country.
So Uber and Airbnb cannot exist without analogue channels. Social channels are just a sideshow in the scheme of things.
Rumour has it, Unilever is removing the term “digital” from all marketing job titles, as they’ve finally woken up to the fact the job functions are about marketing, not about channels. After all, nobody ever called themselves a “Male Urinal Advertising Manager” just because they placed ads in the specialist channel of troughs in public and commercial toilets used by men. If you’re female and confused, ask a male colleague.
Smart marketers are realising that just sticking solely with digital marketing channels is more often than not, a mistake. For the best results, you need to promote across numerous proven channels, and run tests to determine the best ROI – just as marketers did prior to the internet.
Have to go now and prepare to teach young university marketing students. Might recommend they look for an internship at Long Bay Correctional Centre if they want a successful career…
Let’s connect https://www.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld/
As those who work in the marketing industry know, it is in dire need of good publicity. What’s the adage about a cobbler’s shoes always in need of repair?
We’re ranked at the bottom of the list of the most trusted professions, if we make the list at all. And the recent outing of long-suspected shonky media buying agencies, has only served to confirm what the general public perceive. I’ll have more on the media buying dishonesty soon.
One of the reasons I’ve not posted here for a couple of months, is that I’ve been tutoring on advertising to 150 university students – in the first and final years of their degrees. To put it in perspective, I’ve read and marked 350+ assignments and presentations submitted by enthusiastic young people wanting a career in our industry.
It gave me some time to reflect and I’m a tad concerned for their future, as I’m not sure how valuable their degrees will be if they want an honest career. Here’s why:
In 1994 I ran my first e-marketing seminar, including some guest speakers from different organisations. Little did I realise at the time, how indicative it was of the industry that was to evolve to the ‘digital marketing’ one we know today.
There was a presentation from a new joint venture called NineMSN. It was between Microsoft and the owners of a television network. A lady whom I knew from the marketing industry was suddenly their e-marketing expert, despite having no expertise. Mind you, nobody had any expertise. The presentation was slick and full of graphics, charts and outlandish predictions about the information superhighway – remember those buzzwords?
Because the industry was still in gestation, the audience of marketers was extremely sceptical towards her claims – much like today’s worried marketers and business owners are about social media and content marketing.
The most powerful presentation came from an email supplier who used a whiteboard to draw a diagram of how the internet worked and how computers connected to each other. He explained what it meant and the potential for what it meant. The audience lapped it up.
And the rest as they say, is history. A whole industry was spawned. The “how to be an instant digital marketing expert” industry. Anyone can be one – just use some digi-buzzwords, imply secret knowledge, claim all things that always worked no longer do and you’re away. Even better if you publish a book denouncing all things common sense and praising unproven new marketing secrets.
Or better still, just announce “I am a digital marketing expert” and you automatically are. No qualifications necessary. For a typical example of this faux expert, you need look no further than the latest digital flavour of the month – the alleged Content Marketing experts. They give charlatans integrity.
If it is so easy to get away with deceit to succeed, why should anyone bother with a marketing, advertising, public relations or communications degree? If all you need to do to fake expertise is Google “world’s best <insert subject> advertisement” and copy it for your brand or client, why study at all? If you can manufacture phony credentials by paying a slave in Asia or the subcontinent, to ghost write a book for you, so you can claim to be a “thought leader” why get a degree?
The digital era has sunk the marketing industry to a new low. I’ve never known marketers to be as cynical about agencies, suppliers and alleged expertise as they have in the first fifteen years of this century.
But I live in hope, as I suspect the digital tide is turning. There is a growing chorus of intelligent voices calling out the cyber hustlers for what they are. Marketers are realising you need to use lots of media channels and continually test lots of media channels to succeed. Those who dumped proven channels for solely digital ones, are doing U-turns and going back to their roots.
They’ve realised the various digital media are not all they’re claimed to be – results are revealing the truth. If only Australia Post had maintained its investment in direct mail, as this channel is killing it for serious marketers. And of course television is still the dominant media by massive figures.
So maybe knowing about marketing strategy, branding, the time-proven principles of creating outstanding advertising, media planning and all that tertiary-trained knowledge, gained at university, will be worth investing in for a marketing career?
It better be. I’m having a ball hanging out on campus and learning from tomorrow’s ad legends – they are enthusiastic about their future careers and I’d love them to have a worthwhile industry in which to work.
But they have to study first. Where’s that homework file…
Let’s connect: https://au.linkedin.com/in/malcolmauld
I’ve lived in Melbourne twice in my life and visit most years. One thing I quickly learned was there are only four colours worn by the locals (apart from their AFL team’s). It doesn’t matter what time of year, it’s always the same four – they are:
I was reminded of this when teaching the Principles of Advertising at university recently. I used an example for the students I developed years ago when training young advertising executives on the job.
There are only four essential things you need to develop brilliant creative. Without these four you will fail dismally. Yet you’d be surprised how many digi-kids don’t use them. They just use hope as a strategy for producing ideas.
So here they are dear reader – the four essentials to brilliant creative work:
Without a clear brief you are groping in the dark. You cannot work on the theory of “you’ll know it when you see it” when it comes to recognising a good idea – and usually without any connection to long term strategy or brand direction.
The obvious benefit of a written brief is that it eliminates the danger of interpretation which occurs with a verbal or no brief.
Here’s another example I developed years ago for teaching briefing. I’m told it’s been used by others who also teach. Clear your mind for a few seconds. Now, what do you visualise when you read the word “rabbit?”
You obviously have an image of a rabbit in your mind’s eye? Is it white, brown, grey or chocolate? Hopping or sitting still? Nibbling on food? Being cuddled or sitting in the cross hairs of a gun sight? Maybe you’re a Monty Python fan and visualise a killer rabbit? Whatever you’re imagining, it will be very different from other people’s interpretation.
A brief gives you direction. It’s your creative road map designed to save you wasting time going down dry gullies. Both David Ogilvy and his creative protege Norman Berry have been attributed to stating the creative ode: “Give me the freedom of a tight brief.” This has nothing to do with budgie smugglers BTW.
The tighter the brief the more relevant creative options you can create. Whereas a woolly brief (or no brief) sends you in too many irrelevant directions and wastes time, money and resources. That’s why a written brief, accompanied by visual stimuli remove confusion caused by interpretation.
My old boss David Ogilvy stated “search the world and steal the best.” But he meant it for inspiration, not plagiarism. Yet so many digital marketers use search engines as their creative resource. They enter “best <insert category> advertising” into Google and then copy what they can. This is not a bad idea as the starting point for inspiration, but if you don’t have a brief, how will it fit your brand? And there are limits to how often an idea or execution can be copied.
Every agency has their own version of a briefing document – if you need one, contact me and I’ll send you an example.
Then again, you could just search Google for “world’s best creative brief”…