Putting Digital Advertising Into Perspective

Every Sunday morning with very few exceptions I get an email from Bob Hoffman, one of the world’s foremost contrarians and he tells me what he has found out about the digital marketing industry that week. 

It’s never good news and believe me when I tell you that Bob would be the first one to shout it from the rooftops if there was good news. 

The Bottom Line At The Top

A lot of what is causing consternation in the digital marketing industry these days is the nearly total withdrawal from digital advertising activity by the world’s largest advertiser, Procter and Gamble, citing the abysmal performance of pretty much their entire digital advertising program.

The industry, of course, is trying to spin this as no big deal. But I spent eight years working for Procter in Canada and can tell you that if these people don’t know intuitively how effective every media and every creative idea is, they have substantial research departments and suppliers to analyze and find that out.

Procter people never talk through their hats. So when they outright abandon an entire medium, anyone with their marketing head screwed on right is obliged to pay serious attention.

One Way The Game Gets Rigged

The trouble with digital advertising is that there are so many different ways to create false positives.

For example, there are substantial companies who work for digital marketers who actually sell ‘likes’. Yep … these companies have hundreds of people who basically have lists of clients that certain marketers are developing, and these people spend their days clicking and posting pre-programmed comments. This business is so lucrative that these companies have now developed algorithms and bots to do the same thing.

And at the end of the day, the digital marketers tally up the click take and tell you that you’re doing exceptionally well and might very well benefit from increasing your activity.

They get away with this for three main reasons.

One: Most marketers are still completely mystified about how this medium actually works.

Two: They are constantly being told by their digital gurus that it’s a marathon and not a sprint…that the ROI will come, just as long as they don’t drop the ball.

Three: Not everybody is as smart as Procter & Gamble. Nor do they have or are willing to commit the resources to investigating where their precious likes and clicks are coming from.

Marketing 101 Again

Except for certain industries, mostly retail based, digital advertising and marketing is or at least should be really a relatively small part of any company’s marketing activity.

Now look carefully at the cartoon above. Besides the cheeky message, there are any number of analog based touch points that need to be achieved in order to build enough awareness of your product or service to stimulate a contact or sale.

This is a fundamental rule of both marketing and sales. And to be honest, it’s something that the vast majority of digital marketers don’t really understand.

Primarily because it’s not in their best interest to tell you that your digital marketing program is the least significant of all the activity you should be engaged in to manage and build your business through marketing.

And secondly, because these people, by and large, have little or no experience in the analog world of marketing they don’t understand how this all works.

They sell likes. They sell clicks. They argue that these are the keys to selling products or services, but that is only true if these products or services are accessible from the ether, and even then, getting people to that point, is still much more an analog marketing and sales function than anything else.

The 1% Game

It’s not impossible for some companies to have excellent levels of success using only social media or other forms of digital marketing. But the question you have to ask, and it’s critically important, is if your business is one of them.

Otherwise, you are simply looking at a huge amount of effort to achieve what at best would be a 1% ROI. This 1% would likely be diminished to less than zero once you have factored in the amount of time and effort it takes you to get there.

So in essence, you may very well end up in a position where you are actually giving money to the digital industry in exchange for a pile of old withered pseudo-magic beans.

What You Owe Yourself

There are likely few if any digital marketers who will agree with anything I have just said. But, over the past few years, as I have been writing about the effectiveness or lack thereof of digital marketing, not a single digital marketer has come forward to refute anything I have said.

Does this mean I am right? Not totally. But it does throw up a pretty serious red flag that a lot of people should be paying attention to.

First of all, it’s important to try and get an objective handle on the best ways to be structuring your marketing program. And working with a marketer who has experience on both sides of the digital divide is probably a smarter way forward than just throwing your money into the digital marketing marathon.

Digital marketers who don’t have experience in the analog world can only advise you on digital solutions. When in point of fact, you may need to find the right balance of both digital and analog solutions.

At Bullet Proof Consulting, we have been at this long enough to have solid depth of experience in both areas. And because we are not married to either area, our advice is based only on the media that best benefits your business. IE media that reach the people you need to reach effectively and efficiently.

It’s a simple modus operandi that will always make sure you are in front of the people you need to be in front of and telling them the right story.

If it’s more complex than that, you need to start asking some serious questions. Because at the end of the day, it’s your investment and you really don’t want to be blowing any of it on a low or non-existent return potential.