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?
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:
- There are new rules for marketing and PR
- Customers want conversations with brands
- Customers don’t want to be sold to
- Selling is dead
- Traditional media no longer work
- Personas have replaced target audience
- Brand advertising is dead and so are advertising agencies
- Marketing automation is the future of all customer communications
- QR codes, VR, AI, Pokemon Go, <insert latest fad> will change everything – forever
- Content is king (and queen)
- Every sale in the world begins with a search
- 157% of all sales are online
The jargon monkeys love their buzzwords and acronyms. You’ll know many of them like these:
- Customer engagement/experience/journey
- Brand conversations
- Disruptive technology
- Reach out
- Data-driven marketing
- Contextual marketing
- Omni-channel marketing
- <insert label> marketing
- Growth hacking
- Owned, earned and paid media
- OMG the list goes on, and on, and on…
Even more shady are the whole new economies that are allegedly revolutionising marketing:
- the social economy
- the engagement economy
- the attention economy
- the belief economy
- the sharing economy
- the purpose economy
- the content economy
- the influencer economy
- the subscription economy
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:
- Connect with lots of people
- Connect with journalists
- Publish stuff and send it to your contacts
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:
- Technology has changed, people haven’t.
- Technology means we have new order forms for buying stuff – on apps and websites.
- We have been ordering goods remotely and having them delivered to our home or workplace, since the invention of mail-order in the 18th century. So remote ordering on a computer is simply evolution.
- People buy emotionally and justify rationally. That’s why brand positioning is so important. Technology has almost zero influence on why/what people buy.
- Advertising is alive and well and still one of the best ways to build brand value.
- People love being sold to, it’s known as good customer service. But people hate lousy salespeople, so fire your bad salespeople and hire good ones.
- Replacing humans with computers and bots can often hinder, not help the sales process or customer service experience. People prefer to deal with people.
- Marketing automation only works if humans monitor it constantly.
- Customers don’t care about brands like marketers do, they have more important things to do with their time.
- People don’t plan a customer journey when they go shopping.
- You cannot predict when people will buy, which is why you need to constantly be marketing to everyone in your market.
- The traditional channels work excpetionally well. While some are declining in reach, their audiences are very dedicated.
- There is a reason it’s called social media, not business media. And what media channel isn’t social? Ever heard of the social pages?
- Likes, follows, shares et al are not measures of marketing success.
- Digital-first can mean sales-last. You need to test digital channels and be brave enough to not use them if they don’t work. Don’t let FOMO and marketing fashion drive you.
- If you call yourself a digital marketer, your only half a marketer (if that). You need to understand all the channels in the media spectrum to be called a marketer.
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…
I have teenage children, aged 14 and 15, so an emerging topic of conversation is what career they would like to pursue. I find this interesting, particularly given I still haven’t a clue what I want to do in my career, even after working four decades in marketing and advertising.
Most schools hold regular updates about “the jobs of the future” and the skills our kids will need to succeed in the digital world. You’re probably aware of the need for STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that the career advisers and alleged experts believe are essential for a future success.
These skills are often quoted by the digital marketing virtue signallers, as part of their effort to position themselves as marketing experts (over marketers who really are marketing experts). They claim if you cannot code, you’re not a marketer.
Well Google has done some research on its staff, as it was a STEM employer of choice. The results have been published in an article in The Washington Post and they are very surprising indeed.
The essence of Google’s research findings, and that of another piece of research conducted by the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers (which includes both small firms and large ones like Chevron and IBM) is that STEM skills don’t count. Well not in the way they have been historically favoured.
The skills needed to succeed in the digital world are the soft skills, not the hard digital skills. These skills include being able to communicate and listen well; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.
STEM skills are vital to the world we live in today, but technology alone, as Steve Jobs famously insisted, is not enough. We desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural, and social as well as the computational.
And go figure, to succeed in marketing you need marketing skills, not computer skills. Who’d have thought hey? Maybe this is why companies are starting to eliminate the word “digital” from marketing job titles.
It’s surprising how long it has taken so many companies to realise what type of people they should hire for success in the digital world. I mean, all they had to do was watch The Intern.
I spend much of my time consulting with and mentoring young digital marketers. It’s almost a fulltime business – and might be soon. The main reason I do so, is these digital marketers don’t know very much about marketing and are worried they are out of their depth. They know how to post on social media and use Slack to “communicate” with their colleagues about when to play the next game of Foosball, but not much else. They fear they will fail as they don’t have the expertise.
So next time you’re in a meeting and an alleged digital marketing expert claims to have a new secret sauce for digital marketing magic, lean over and clip them behind the ear – twice. Just so they know you’re serious.
Gotta go now – I have an appointment with a careers advisor…
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:
An appalling piece of digital drivel appeared in The Drum last week. It is typical of the fake news constantly conjured by the fake marketers, those who call themselves digital marketers.
The horrible truth is that the digital marketing clerks have been manufacturing fake news since the internet was invented. They have claimed outrageously that everything has changed; there are new rules of marketing and PR; new business blueprints; and everything that has always worked in marketing, no longer does – even though it still does.
These pixel pushers provide no evidence to support their arguments, apart from platitudes about the number of people using some new social platforms. Sales and revenue are words banned from their lexicon.
In a desperate bid to try to differentiate themselves, because the majority are not experienced marketers (and deep down they know that nothing has changed, apart from technology), they have bullshitted their way into the psych of the marketing industry.
The Drum article, which has been derided by marketers around the planet, is typical of the posturing by marketers trying to differentiate themselves in a sea of sameness. So I thought I’d deconstruct it, as it’s a great demonstration of the bollocks passing for digital marketing intelligence. My notes in blue.
Here it is:
David Ogilvy reigned as one of advertising’s kings for a chunk of the 20th century. In his time, he was probably probably the most famous copywriter in the world with copy that was at once clever and straightforward, and above all, crafted to sell products. If there were a Mount Rushmore of the advertising industry, Ogilvy’s face would be immortalized upon it. I remain in awe of his talent and a big fan. I love David Ogilvy.
That said, “David Ogilvy” must die.
I know, the king’s physical being departed this world in 1999, but the advertising principles of his era — some might call them iron clad rules — continue to drive how we practice our craft. “Your role is to sell, don’t let anything distract you from the sole purpose of advertising.”
The role of marketing is to acquire and keep customers profitably. The only way to do this is to sell stuff. The sole outcome of your marketing activity is one of these three things:
- To acquire a new customer
- To get them to spend more with you more often
- To keep them spending with you as long as possible
If your marketing messages aren’t doing any of these, you’re wasting your money.
Many of these applications and concepts of this legendary time in our business have little place in 21st-century advertising and marketing. Often during my career, which began in 1985, I heard the words from clients, “I don’t care if it’s good work, I just want it to sell my product.”
Firstly – it’s not good work if it doesn’t sell. Period. Am sure there isn’t an agency in town who’d prefer a new business prospect say “good work” and never get in touch, than respond directly to the agency’s advertisement to drum up new business.
All the applications of David Ogilvy, Claude Hopkins, John Caples, Rosser Reeves, Howard Gossage, Bernbach, Burnett and more, have every place in 21st century marketing. Scientific Advertising has just about everything you need to know about online marketing and it was first published in 1923.
The new paradigm is to sell more relevantly. Here are some reasons the old ways must change:
There is no new paradigm – it’s a bullshit statement. Successful marketers have always sold with relevance, otherwise they wouldn’t get a sale. There isn’t a business on the planet that can exist without sales. Technology changes, people don’t. We still buy emotionally and justify rationally. How else can you explain Jimmy Choos!
“Selling” at all costs isn’t enough anymore. Ogilvy had one goal above all others: Sell, sell, and sell some more, his principles widely adopted across the advertising world. It’s time for brands to disconnect from the old ways and learn how to connect with people through a set of clearly communicated core beliefs and values.
People do not want to be connected with their toilet paper brand through a set of clearly communicated core beliefs and values. Well maybe this is an exception:
Ogilvy himself never had to create for the Internet, mobile devices, apps, video games or social media feeds. Because media has become so much more personal, advertising must be more nuanced. People — not consumers — want products to match their core values and beliefs. The game has changed.
David admitted both publicly and privately, that the secret weapon in his success to grow Ogilvy & Mather was direct mail. It is one of the most personal and powerful channels. I chatted with him on this topic in two different meetings. He would have loved modern digital channels because he could use his 20th century skills to great effect.
Purpose, not just products. We live in what I call, The Belief Economy, driven mainly by millennials and iGen, which demands that brands have a defined, authentic belief system and act accordingly.
The economy is not driven by millennials and iGen – they have bugger all disposable income. The single largest group influencing the economy in the western world is still those known as baby boomers. No labelled segment gives a toss about a brand’s defined, authentic belief system. They wouldn’t even pass a test if asked to explain it.
WTF planet do you live on? More than 90% of all sales never involve the internet, they happen in store with almost no consideration whatsoever. They are mainly packaged goods and fresh food. Here’s a typical customer thought process when shopping in store or online “I need toilet paper. Do they have my favourite brand (created via TV ads selling the brand) or is another brand on sale? Oh I’ll grab that packet.”
Sustainable clothing company Patagonia has a devoted customer base, in large part because it does not adhere to the old system of advertising. In 2011, the company ran a campaign around Christmas, urging customers not to buy a specific jacket. The idea behind the “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign was to urge people to buy a new jacket only if they needed it. Additionally, they offered to repair people’s current jackets rather than have them thrown out. They’re still doing things like this today as evidenced by their latest campaign, “The President Stole Your Land.”
Good on Patagonia – they used a tactic and it worked. Whooppeee. Next year it will be a new tactic. Because the average tenure of a marketing manager is less than 18 months and the new manager always does something different to the previous manager. After all, that’s why they were hired.
Collaboration over consumption. The term “consumer” dehumanizes people, reducing them to faceless entities that represent nothing more than dollar signs. But today’s tools allow brands to motivate and inspire and provide an opportunity for co-creation which creates something more valuable than selling, buy-in.
Collaboration over consumption? Does anyone know what this means? Do customers call Unilever to discuss the scent additives of the soap powder they plan to buy? Ever gone shopping with kids? There’s no collaboration there. I don’t know of any tools that motivate and inspire or provide opportunity for blah, blah… buy-in.
Though come to think of it, since they were invented, ice cream parlours have let customers collaborate by choosing their own flavours. My local barista lets me tell him how I want my coffee. Even the sandwich shop lets me nominate my fillings. But this is a decades-old process. Nothing new to see here folks when it comes to collaboration or consumption.
What impact do brands have beyond the advertising and sale of a product? What does the brand stand for? All of these questions require careful consideration, and brands should not run from them because they can’t afford to. It’s time to lean in and give a damn.
Yes, brands do need to stand for something that resonates with their customers. Brands won’t sell otherwise. And remember in every category in the world, the number one brand is always the brand with the most customers. That is, the brand that makes the most sales.
Ogilvy famously said, “The customer is not a moron, she’s your wife.” He was trying to instill a sense of the person in the ad industry at a time when wives and moms were the gatekeepers of products that entered the household. Wives are no longer the gatekeepers. Now, everyone shops for everything all the time.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and the same-sex revolution is changing everything up and down society. The very idea of shopping has changed. It can be done online in between completing reports at work. Or people shop in-store with online mobile comparison help — a medium that did not exist robustly even ten years ago.
Yes, Ogilvy wrote for the times. He was spot-on when he wrote it. Though he did say he would have written that phrase differently had he written the book later in his career.
Brands without a communicated set of values will be left behind as the economic buying power of Millennials and iGen continues to grow over the next 40 years. A brand’s values and impact are even more critical to iGen, and research strongly indicates both generations’ purchasing decisions are influenced by knowing what a brand stands for.
Only fake marketers think customers care about brands as much as fake marketers do. Every generation has bought brands based on what the brand stood for in terms of its positioning. It’s not something new.
Centuries before the digital revolution, Confucius said “Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart.” The observation is still relevant. Technology changes, people don’t. Read The Marketer Stripped Bare, by John Hancock.
The old rules aren’t right or wrong, but some of them are growing outdated, and advertising needs to evolve alongside Millennials and iGen.
The “old rules” (read truth) apply today more than ever, as the skills of communication have been desperately lost in the age of digital marketing. The OECD Adult Literacy Study revealed roughly 82% of people struggle to comprehend basic English, so we need persuasive writing skills like never before.
After all, your marketing activity, particularly direct marketing, now known as digital marketing, is trying to get your customers to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it. And that’s not easy. It also has no relation to technology.
“David Ogilvy” must die because the world David Ogilvy inhabited no longer exists sociologically or physically.
Never before have we needed to study the past if we want to succeed going forward. As Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
And if the fake marketers continue on their dishonest path, they will continue to fail the industry and themselves.
BTW, here’s an article I wrote in 2015 explaining why we still need David Ogilvy’s thinking in the digital world.
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:
- Mark Zuckerberg says he wants to bring Facebook to an “even higher standard of transparency.”
- Google has issued a “Transparency Report“
- IAB has said “Transparency Is The Key To Programmatic Success”
- Marc Pritchard of P&G, gave an “…impassioned speech on transparency.”
- Keith Weed of Unilever, has “…demand(ed) more transparency” from digital media.
- Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, said “it’s important to be transparent.”
- 4As issued the “4A’s Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct“
- ANA even created and celebrated Transparency Day!
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
For a couple of years now dear reader, I have been presenting the mathematics of Facebook at marketing events. Each time I invite members of the audience to challenge them and put me straight, to make sure the numbers are correct. But nobody questions the numbers. They just nod in agreement.
Recently I’ve also replied to sales pitches from alleged Facebook experts in my inbox, and replied by inviting their assistance – with no response. But as you know, marketing automation doesn’t allow you to fake sincerity. So I don’t know if my messages have been received and ignored, or not received at all, due to the weaknesses prevalent in most marketing automation systems. That is, when you reply to a message, it gets lost in cyber-space because humans do not monitor the computers.
One issue I have with the numbers, is that I have to rely on Facebook – take it at Facevalue so to speak – when it comes to statistics. And as one of the most dishonest brands when it comes to user statistics, the numbers given out by Facebook always feel dodgy. After all FB regularly claims to have more users in an age demographic, than the living population of that demographic.
Last week folks, Facebook announced its fake accounts to be 270 million – way more than it alleged only a week earlier. Many suspect the real number of fake accounts to be much higher. It’s why so many marketers refer to FB as:
The figure for inactive accounts appears to be unknown. I have at least 3 inactive accounts that are still sitting idle and get the occasional view – according the the FB bots that notify me.
Interestingly, every teenager I know – mates of my kids – has at least one fake FB account. They use the account to log-in to games and other sites that force you to use FB to log-in. The kids don’t post to the account. The account names are fictitious. They only use the accounts for log-ins. So they are active accounts, just not socially active. Who knows how many millions of these false accounts exist around the planet? One can only assume they are included in FB’s statistics of active accounts?
So here’s the maths for you – all numbers are alleged, and taken from reputable online sources:
Total monthly active accounts = 2,000,000,000
Less fake accounts = 270,000,000
Less business accounts = 100,000,000
Less ad blockers (the single biggest consumer protest in history) = 700,000,000
Leaves alleged active accounts = 930,000,000
Percentage of users an ad on FB can reach is way less than 5%, but say 10%.
Advertising Reach = 93,000,000
Maximum engagement (Forrester and others) = 0.7%, but say 1%
Active engagement = 930,000
930,000/2,000,000,000 = 0.00465
So average active engagement = less than half of one percent!!!
This is less than an unaddressed letterbox leaflet.
That’s not so say FB won’t pay for itself, but it’s not viable for all brands or categories.
I have a number of clients who find it pays and others that don’t – it’s horses for courses. And FB is rarely the primary media channel for doing business. It’s just another channel you test and learn, then use if it works profitably.
I welcome any input into the numbers please. Also suggest you read the Ad Contrarian, Bob Hoffman for some more facts and revelations.
Gotta go – need to post this blog to reach the handful of humans who will actively engage with it on FB…
Republished at the request of nervous marketers…
One of the most common conversations in marketing circles over the last couple of years, has been how to replicate the King Content hustle and flog a fledgling content marketing agency for an outrageous amount of money, making oneself filthy rich.
Hardly a marketer I’ve spoken with could believe Isentia paid $48 million for this unproven content marketing business. “Where is the value” everyone asked? Well it looks like there wasn’t much – value that is.
Recently, as most of you are probably aware, Isentia announced it was shutting down the King Content brand after a $4.4 million loss in the previous financial year. Mumbrella reported Isentia wrote down $37.8 million and close offices around the world.
And as reported in Mumbrella today, Isenta has now written off the purchase price as part of a profit downgrade, which it advised in a statement to the ASX. It has also decided to get out of content marketing. It certainly didn’t get anything out of content marketing, so to speak.
It reminds me of the first dot.con when big ad agencies rushed around like headless chooks overpaying for website production studios that had fancy names. I sat in one meeting where a young kid with a very small company, but building websites for some well known brands, turned down a $1,000,000 cheque. He wanted more, despite the cheque being more than twice his annual revenue.
Suffice to say, after the dot.con collapsed, nobody knocked on his door and his business is still about the size if was 17 years ago and he’s still just making websites and apps.
But content marketing is an industry in itself, though Gartner’s Hype Cycle already has the alleged industry on the slide into the trough of disillusionment.
Which brings me to a speech I delivered last month at the NZ Direct Marketing Conference. As I’m curious by nature I asked the audience (about 200 marketers and agency types) the following questions:
- Who wants every brand they come in contact with to deliver more advertising and an increasing volume of content to them at every opportunity possible?
- Who wants more email in their inbox?
- Who wants more notifications on their mobile?
- Who woke this morning craving relationships with consumer brands? Can’t wait to read the thought leadership on toilet roll brands?
- Who has walked out of a retail store or café because you didn’t get served?
The answers were fascinating.
- Not one marketer in the room wanted more content delivered to them by marketers.
- Not one marketer in the room wanted more email.
- Not one marketer in the room wanted more notifications.
- Not one marketer in the room woke up thinking about brands, let alone wanting relationships with them.
- Every marketer in the room had walked out of a store because a salesperson hadn’t tried to sell them something.
This is fascinating stuff folks. After all, if marketers and advertisers don’t want what the content marketers and the cyber-hustlers are flogging, why do they believe their customers want it?
Taking their answers once step further, the whole audience believed the premise of content marketing – that brands should deliver content at every opportunity possible to anybody who remotely comes in to contact with the brand, but should not try to sell anything – is complete and utter bullshit.
Not one executive in that audience believed, by show of hand, that marketers should be doing content marketing. As consumers, marketers hate content marketing.
So if the industry doesn’t believe in content marketing, why are marketers wasting shareholder’s precious investment on it??? It appears that content marketing has rapidly become a punch-line to marketing jokes.
But one has to wonder, why didn’t the management at Isentia ask these questions to protect their shareholder’s funds???
And why do I have images of the emperor’s new clothes, and lemmings jumping off cliffs???
Gotta go. I have an idea for an anti-content marketing, content marketing business. You can check it out here: www.thecontentbrewery.com
And you don’t become a CMO by hanging around the marketing department either. It’s like those people who claim to be copywriters just because they can use a keyboard.
To really stand out from the crowd and get ahead of your marketing peers, you need to invest in yourself.
Furnish your brain with knowledge from those who’ve already succeeded (and failed occasionally). Tap into the expertise of those who’ve tasted blood. Learn from the experts.
High achievers don’t use hope as a strategy when it comes to their success. And they don’t fall for the fake thought leadership and definitive guides published by marketing wannabes and cyber-hustlers.
Which brings me to this unique opportunity in Australia. International legend of marketing, Drayton Bird, is doing his final ever events in Sydney and Melbourne.
Every marketer on the planet would kill to achieve a fraction of Drayton’s success**. And it will be a long time before any other marketer comes close to earning the same genuine industry respect. If he was any younger he’d be called a unicorn!
So if you want better results from your marketing, or to improve your career, I suggest you take the opportunity to spend 3 hours at Drayton’s final gig- Cocktails with Drayton.
You won’t get another chance to meet, chat and listen to Drayton in Australia ever again. In his 90 minute presentation he’ll share his best tips, ideas and marketing secrets, compiled during a career spanning four decades, including 20 years of online marketing.
He’s also giving away 3 of his books FREE, including the 338-page international best-seller “How to write sales letters and emails that sell“.
So to quote a well known Aussie “Do yourself a favour” and book your tickets today. They are only $125, or if you book 5 or more people, they’re just $100 each.
That’s a damn cheap investment to get priceless information to boost your career and your marketing results.
Book Melbourne here: 15th November (5.30 – 8.30pm) Rydges Melbourne
Book Sydney here: 21st November (5.30 – 8.30pm) Rydges North Sydney
More information at www.draytonslasthurrah.com
See you there…
**P.S. Here’s just a snippet of Drayton’s resume:
- The Chartered Institute of Marketing named him one of 50 individuals who shaped today’s marketing.
- Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Caples Organisation in New York and Early To Rise in Florida
- Founding member of Superbrands
- One of the first eight Honorary Fellows of the Institute of Direct Marketing
- One of the first three people in the Direct Marketing Association of India’s Hall of Fame
- UK magazine ‘Campaign’ called him ‘the only universally acknowledged point of creativity in the direct marketing world‘
- His book “Commonsense Direct & Digital Marketing” has been a global best-seller on the subject every year since 1982. It’s published in 17 languages and sold around the world.
- Advertising legend David Ogilvy said “he knows more about direct marketing than anyone in the world”
How’s yours compare?