My new column is live at The Drum:
Not everything that is important in marketing can be quantified or automated. Soon, we’re going to have to remember that fact.
But first, let me take you back to a little theory. There have always been two main categories of advertising: brand and direct response. Brand advertising aims to build long-term brands by communicating desired, subconscious messages to mass audiences over time. Direct response tries to get immediate, trackable responses from a specific group of people or set of contacts.
Brand advertising is most of what you see on TV, print, and radio. Direct response includes sales catalogues, junk mail, email and PPC. Brand advertising can be beautiful and magical. Direct response is often tacky and annoying. Brand advertising cannot be tracked. Direct response can be tracked. There are pros and cons to each.
Some 20 years after the birth of the modern web, many digital marketers are now ignorant of the benefits of brand advertising because they have become addicted to direct response campaigns and metrics and therefore think only in those terms. Why build brands when you can use such tactics, see immediate results, and tweak them as necessary?
The selling point of digital ads has always been that they are directly trackable and use precision targeting. But remember: the assumption that reaching ‘perfect’ individuals returns a better ROI than targeting a broad demographic group has never been proven.
But Machine Zone co-founder and CEO Gabe Leydon reinforced the idea of trackability and personalisation last year when he told a Recode event that all untrackable marketing will disappear:
“Once people have insight into how they’re spending their money, brand marketing will completely disappear… marketing will become a justified business. You will have to justify what you’re doing.”
But Leydon seemed to be unaware that both direct response advertising on the Internet and martech in general have one fatal flaw: people do not want to be tracked online.