In 2017, Let's Make Advertising Great Again!

As loyal readers know, my end-of-year post always looks back at how well I did in satisfying the mandate that this platform requires. It says at the top, in case you had not noticed (or had forgotten), that contributors to Online Spin provide “controversy served fresh daily.”

So every year since I started writing here back in 2013, I have looked back and tallied how well I did in terms of generating “Shares,” “Recommendations” and “Comments” for the posts I wrote, as indicators of “controversy.” Did I stir your pot?

The good news is: I did!

The third best post this year was, for a number of months, the description of how agency pitches and agency offerings are changing with advertisers who are getting smarter about what they should ask for when rethinking their agency ecosystem. But then, less than one month ago, I wrote about the continuing agency transparency issues (“Media Trading Transparency: Where There's Smoke...”). It swiftly raced past the agency ecosystem post.



The second most controversial post (“Leading Global Media Agency Dismisses Effectiveness Of Digital Media”) covered published research showcasing the many failings of digital advertising. It garnered the third largest number of recommends, but just an average number of comments. Most commenters chose to respond via email, either directly to me or others at MediaPost. “Out of context” was mentioned, and strings were pulled behind the scenes. Reading it back now, I still fail to see what set off the minor firestorm. I suggested that, regardless of who was doing what to whom, the only way out of the quagmire was to seek an industrywide solution.

The most-shared post in 2016,  “The One-Two-Three Sucker Punch That Is Killing Digital Media,”  was also the number-one most recommended post, and third most-commented on. It talked about data that showed that of every $1 spent on digital advertising, less than 40 cents reaches an actual consumer (excluding the effects of ad blockers, which only makes matters worse).

There is now a good body of research and data from the likes of the World Federation of Advertisers, the Association of National Advertisers, Technology Business Research, and many others that state more or less the same numbers. That, in combination with limited to very limited measurable business impact, has led to a growing number of specifically fast-moving consumer goods advertisers who are starting to shift or limit their digital investments. Facebook’s ongoing measurement fails have not helped much, either. Procter & Gamble was first to announce a shift, followed by Unilever — and, last week, The Coca-Cola Company. It is obviously a very different game for companies that sell stuff via the Interweb, or provide vital customer service via digital.

Looking back, I realize that the top three posts kind of all talk about the same issue: Our industry’s current status has been described as a sick patient and a disaster — as well as highly profitable. Whichever you think it is (hint: it is all three), I think we really, REALLY need to try and work on solutions rather than prolonging the illness, the mess — and the ill-gained fortunes made from it. ANA and 4A’s: Let’s make advertising great again in 2017!

Happy holidays!

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