Don’t Be Daunted By Digital


(By Bob McCurdy) I always try to learn from smart, accomplished marketing and advertising people who have had different professional experiences than I’ve had, evaluating and then integrating their experiences and observations along with my own, to gain a better understanding of the 2018 marketing landscape.

It’s one of the reasons why I read an article recently titled, “It’s Back To Basics For Havas Media CEO Colin Kinsella.” You can read it here.

This advertising executive clearly has a wide-ranging wealth of experience in both the digital and traditional media spaces, having been the Chief Investment Officer at Razorfish, the CEO of Digitas, the CEO of Mindshare, and now the CEO of Havas Media. It’s a safe bet to assume that he has a pretty good handle on the entire media ecosystem. What follows are some of his comments:

“A lot of buyers want to get back into TV, radio, out-of-home, and print because they feel like digital can get lost. The most accountable media turned into the least accountable media and the most filled with fraud.”

Takeaway: In advertising, it’s dangerous to fall too wildly in love with any media option and it might be time for those who have, to walk things back a bit, to a more balanced approach.

“Now, with the cost of media, data, content, technology, and production, [more than half] of client dollars are not going toward media. How do you get rid of the ad-tech tax?”

Takeaway: Kinsella’s “ad-tech tax” is a reference to something the Association of National Advertisers identified a while back, when it noted that only 30 to 40 cents of every digital media dollar actually reaches the consumer, due to all of the ad-tech companies involved that charge fees. Trading desks, demand-side platforms, exchanges and the processes of data, targeting and verification all contribute to this so-called “ad-tech tax.”

“More data doesn’t mean better. Clients are changing their data sets every year. They’re not getting any longevity in leveraging the data they have. They keep purchasing more in search of some holy grail. When you have too much data, you have data that competes against other pieces of data, so it’s hard to know what’s right. A thousand-piece puzzle is really hard to stitch together.”

Takeaway: The goal is to be data driven, not data deluded. Data is good. Too much, might be too much. One of the dangers of data is that it can be used to support a pre-determined POV and not for illumination. Peter Field and Les Binet of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising have demonstrated that marketing effectiveness has declined significantly over the past decade. Is it coincidence that this coincides with big data’s ascension and algorithmic infatuation? The most effective marketing plans continue to marry human insight and oversight with the power of data and algorithms.

“You can almost make a direct correlation between the rise of digital and the decrease in connection to brands. We found that 81% of people don’t care [if a given brand] goes away. Where is media’s role in helping bring back that brand equity? Clearly more digital isn’t the answer.”

Takeaway: Digital marketing has unleashed an obsession with efficiency and short-termism, one that’s trading long-term brand-building, for short-term ROI, and it’s negatively impacting the brand, business growth, and profit. The ANA’s CEO’s statement at the beginning of their 2017 Masters of Marketing conference reinforced this point when he said, “Pardon my Brooklynese, but growth sucks.” He then referenced that 259 companies in the 2016 Fortune 500 had declining revenue growth, stating, “These depressing patterns are happening even with continued growth in media spending.”

And where have the ad dollars been flowing?

Motorola CMO Jan Huckfeldt has gone on record saying, “If you want to revive a brand and you really want to build a brand quickly, if you bank on social and digital, it’s not going to work.”

Digital media are extremely effective but they, along with big data, have brought tighter targeting and a greater focus on short-termism, which long term, to Kinsella’s point, can hollow out a brand and leave an empty carcass.

So, even in 2018, “back to the basics” continues to be a well-rounded media campaign. Every medium has its strengths, bringing something different to the media party and contributing to the synergy that produces a total effect, greater than the sum of their individual effects. “Everything in moderation” applies to life, alcohol, and mixes of media. It’s a message that needs to be told and re-told.

Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]



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