Commentary

Five Things That Make Me Question The Maturity Of Digital Advertising

What are your top five irritants in digital advertising today? I can tell you mine:

5. Make-believe. There are pundits and self-proclaimed gurus out there who loudly bang the drum, suggesting some kind of digital silver bullet. They tend to publish content with titles like “The Top 5 Things You Need To Do Now To Sell Via LinkedIn.” Or “Why A Screaming Goat Will Reach More People Than Your Facebook Brand Page.” The really well-organized ones throw in a white paper for good measure. If you work your way through the blog post or white paper, all you will have learned is that you should contact the author of said drivel and hire him/her to do the job for you. Lately, I have noticed “Tinderesque” author profile photos to “enhance” these kinds of clickbait.

4. Get rich quick. In my work with start-ups, there was one failure (it went bankrupt) and two successes (they were bought). But I have to say that following the start-up space is not only exhausting but also rife with unrealistic expectations. This is true for both the start-ups as well as the investors. Many post-mortems have been written about start-up failures, but ultimately it seems that in most cases (including the one failed start-up I advised), an investor became impatient and wanted out. As a result, there was a mad scramble for new investors , but it’s a tough sell to find new investors when the reason you’re pitching to them is that another investor wanted out. You will have some serious ‘splainin’ to do -- and it usually does not work. It seems that investor patience is running shorter and shorter.

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3. Fraud. I have written about this countless times. But now it looks as if there are some green shoots growing on the garbage heap that covers a lot of digital advertising. Marketers are  -- at last -- learning, and agencies and content providers are listening and responding. If you are a marketer, please remember that it is better to pay a slight premium and actually reach your target, instead of buying cheap and reaching click farms in a faraway land -- or worse, reaching bots only.

2. Measurement. Another one of my favorite topics. My biggest frustration here is that in order to be able to prove that any kind of digital advertising works, we end up doing silo-ed, spot-check-type data gathering and proof-point gathering. What does it mean when a marketer proclaims: “Yes, the online video worked because it generated x thousand or million views and consumer sentiment was largely positive”? What if you had done three videos? Or no video at all, and spent the money on another touch point? Again, there are some green shoots here as well, but we are still very much in the digital measurement dark ages.

1. Hype vs. reality. Meerkat! Ello! Second Life! Google Glass! Friendster! Need I go on? We are very, very good as an industry at hyping ourselves and each other into massive ad revenues, valuations and multiples. In my experience it really pays to heed the wise words of my grandmother (and, I’m sure, yours, too): “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

1 comment about "Five Things That Make Me Question The Maturity Of Digital Advertising".
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  1. Michael Baer from Ipsos Connect USA, March 23, 2015 at 12:46 p.m.

    Yep, yep, and yep. Particularly love your point re: paying some premium to reach your target vs. buying cheap cr*p. But the media landscape is still being driven by mass over accuracy and alleged "reach" over actual engagement. And with regard to hype, how about iBeacon!?!?

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