Marketers Know Good Deal When They See One -- Or Do They?

The magic words in marketing strategy were, are and remain “effective AND efficient” (E&E). Sure, there are many “words du jour” like purpose marketing, in-housing or end-to-end consumer attribution. But in the end, marketers always come back to “I want my strategies to be both effective and efficient.”

So it’s kind of surprising that when it comes to choosing their mix of touchpoints to deliver purposeful messages through an in-house-managed consumer funnel dotted with attribution triggers, they seem to be losing sight somewhat of the effective and efficient mantra.

Proof? Here’s some.

Vast amounts of media spend are invested in digital, the most likely medium to deliver on the E&E strategy — and also the medium that in principle, promises the most data points to prove it delivers. 

The reality is, however, that most marketers struggle to make the case. Most digital strategies are informed more by “well, everybody else is doing it, so we are, too” and “I can’t very well NOT be in digital.”



But proof points remain elusive, especially in terms of brand building and other, broader marketing objectives. 

Some brands are getting very good at understanding sales, provided they sell directly through digital. But even there, the attribution of what triggered what is still mostly shrouded in mystery.

The second proof point is that marketers have just spent lavishly in the TV upfront. Fox, Disney, Hallmark, NBCU, Warner and others have reported strong gains in their upfront volumes, and especially in their cost-per-thousand (CPM) increases. In fact, Brian Wieser, global president of business intelligence at Group M, reports that TV ad spend inflation outperforms regular U.S. inflation to the tune of 3 to 1.

And this is happening at the same time as network and cable TV are losing audiences, because more and more people ditch their cable subscriptions and watch content via non-advertising-supported streaming, making that the only growing “TV” platform.

Obviously, media agencies and advertisers negotiate. One of the number-one tasks for a media agency is to “negotiate the inflation away.” But even if they manage to cut TV cost inflation in half, or to zero, the fact is that in that scenario you’ll be paying the same or slightly more this year for a smaller audience than you paid for/got last year.

And the fact that the networks are reporting healthy gains in CPM seems to indicate they’re doing a brisk TV business as a result of their inflated pricing. It would appear that marketers are indeed willing to pay more.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning the importance of TV in the mix, but I remain baffled by marketers who are willing to pay (a negotiated) rate three times larger than national inflation for a medium that delivers fewer and fewer viewers. 

P&G and Unilever have publicly reported that in-housing and other efficiencies have saved them hundreds of millions of dollars. They have taken these costs out of their media expenditure, and as best as I can tell, added them to the bottom line. I would be mightily impressed if they would have moved some of those dollars into effectiveness and efficiency measurement. Come on, guys — impress me!

2 comments about "Marketers Know Good Deal When They See One -- Or Do They?".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, August 12, 2019 at 5:49 p.m.

    Good article Maarten.

    I regularly see online CPMs that are 2X to 5X television CPMs.   That makes me wonder whether online is really that many thousand times more effective or efficient.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research replied, August 12, 2019 at 6:14 p.m.

    Oops.   That should be online CPAs.

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