Why Are Marketers Losing Confidence In Their Ability To Do Their Jobs?

  • by , Featured Contributor, February 23, 2017

MediaPost reported yesterday on the 2017 edition of the American Marketing Association’s Marketers Confidence Index.  Apparently, marketers today are losing confidence in their ability to meet key goals, like reaching the right customers with their marketing efforts, or being able to understand or evaluate the ROI of their marketing plans. That's in spite of the fact that they feel more confident overall.

Do I think the survey reflects reality? Yes, I do. Few marketers I talk to today believe they have more control over their plans, communications and results than they had yesterday. The pace of change from digital disruption is hitting them faster and faster — and digital change generally raise more questions about what they’re doing than it provides answers.

Still, most marketers seem to remain optimistic. They have to. Their job is to drive growth. Marketing is not a role for pessimists. Pessimism is a better trait in successful CFOs, COOs and investors — sometimes.



Still this reality isn’t exactly healthy for marketers and their businesses .If they’re losing confidence in the effectiveness of their marketing plans and capacity to drive ROI, both elements will suffer.

They also shouldn’t just be hopeful that things are going to work out if they keep doing what they’re doing (big assumption on my part). Hope is not a strategy.

It’s critical that marketers and marketing organizations become more more skeptical, fact-demanding and scientific in their methods. That’s how their bosses and company owners operate: When they lose confidence in certain strategies or tools, they stop using them. Not so much marketers. Too many operate on the 70-20-10 model for incremental optimization in marketing: plan 70% as you did last year; plan 20% to try improved versions of last year’s core; and allocate 10% to testing new things.

That method worked in an analog media and marketing landscape, when change met you head-on and arrived slowly. Not anymore. In the world when SnapChats, Ubers, Facebooks and Googles go from the dorm room to the public markets and hundred of millions of users in only a few years, incrementally doesn't work anymore.

If you don’t have confidence in what you’re doing, you need to stop it. In this world, if the old strategies aren’t working, the majority of budgets and plans need to be harnessed to support new options.

Marketers that just try to test and test their way into the future, without committing themselves with confidence to new initiatives that work and scale, won’t be in the business long. Neither will their companies. Why are so many marketers losing confidence in their ability to do their jobs? Their jobs have changed and they haven’t – yet.

4 comments about "Why Are Marketers Losing Confidence In Their Ability To Do Their Jobs?".
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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, February 23, 2017 at 4:53 p.m.

    Dave, maybe the answer to your questions are simple but we want to ignor the real problem.  The whole advertising and ad distribution process was turned over to computer programs and algorithms instead of humans making the decisions. 

    Go back 30, 40, 50 years or longer in advertising. There were humans talking to humans, advertisers and publishers working on ad deals directly. No computers. No algorithms, no programmatic cookie cutter ads sizes and simply people talking to people how to make a advertising campaign successful.

    Today computers control the decision making process. Prior to, it was humans who control the process.  So should we or could we consider minimizing the use of computers and go back to greater human to human involvement?

  2. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, February 24, 2017 at 3:08 p.m.

    Craig, good points. However, I don't think that there is any way to turn back the clock here. Computerization has already fundamentally changed marketing and the pace of change is only going to intensify. While I don't think that many all human-driven elements will go away, many will. Marketers who aren't comfortable in an emprical, computerized, fast-automating marketing world can no longer be successful. No different than travel booking or real estate or what is happening in retail. Of course, those who can combine the3 best of human AND computer invovlement will be particularly successful, I think.

  3. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, February 24, 2017 at 5:35 p.m.

    Dave thanks for the reply and interesting discussion. I don't see the Genie being put back in the bottle either.  However when you look the capibilities of what a computer algorithm's can and can't do, the very basic is often overlooked. Example. McDonald's serves food but they are not same as Buffalo Wild Wings. Yet, the computer algorithm will put them both in the food and resturant business category. I have seen both show up in my banner ads on because there was a third national resturant running a sweepstakes. Should this happen? I don't think so but the decision is made by the computer program and not a human.

    More specific to my original comment is my website is not your usual website who depends on pictures and stories to capitivate the members of the website. We believe in honesty and giving the member a very actuate vision of the sweep sponsor, the prizes and rules before they click onto the link for the sweep.

    In short we offer a hand made version of the ad instead of a computer distributed which may or may not be actuate.  Much like I need custom made dress shirts (oversize neck)  instead of off the rack  from Macy's. I pay more for that shirt and service but it is what I want.

    I have worked with many Fortune 500 company and ad agencies directly and their ads. Interestingly I have several of the top 50 who said we got more entries on their Facebook sweepstakes than what Facebook did.  The point here is not only can real humans do better than computers we can also do it at a lower cost.

    So yes, I do hear your message. The ad industry has gotten badly addicted to the computer and will never withdraw. The ad industry might take the best of what I am doing that works and figure out how to do it better with a computer instead.

  4. Michael Oddi from Tango Partners, February 24, 2017 at 9:09 p.m.

    Actually, computers don't make decisions about ad campaigns.  They simply execute steps in a program or use an algorithm written by a data scientist. 

    I've found that the primary problem is that marketers don't speak the language of data scientists and data scientists typically don't have experience in marketing and simple mistakes in programming called the accuracy of their findings into question.  The two factions must work together, with each providing insights from their respective areas of expertise.

    We're currently in the "Trough of Disillusionment" in the Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising ( where martech and adtech haven't lived up to the overinflated promises heralded by their creators. The marketers that got burned by new technology want to revert back to what they know, but management is putting more pressure on marketers to adopt the new technologies.  That sort of friction creates a lack of confidence and a fear of moving forward.  

    If you change the 70-20-10 rule and bet on an unproven technology, it could lose you your job.  However, the same can be said if you stick to what's worked in the past.

    Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement.  But initiating change in today's marketing environment takes real guts.

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