Marketers who prioritise digital advertising have delusions of effectiveness

Marketers who prioritise digital advertising have delusions of effectiveness

My new column is live at The Drum:

When I was in sixth grade in the midwestern United States in 1992, every kid wanted a pair of Umbro shorts. It was the big fad because football – and the associated clothing – had flooded suburban America from the UK in the eighties and nineties. However, I grew up in a modest household that could rarely afford the latest, expensive fashions.

My cool mother, seeing how much I wanted them, eventually put aside enough money to buy a pair. The next morning, I put them on and walked to school. I was nervous because I had never worn such a stylish brand and was wondering what was going to happen.

After I arrived on the basketball court where everyone hung out in the mornings before first period, all of my classmates turned to look at me. The boys from wealthy families walked over, looked at my neon, nylon shorts, and gave me high-fives. “Niiiiiiice, dude!” they said. Some of the girls I secretly liked were, let’s say, friendlier than ever before.

Yes, the things that teenagers value have always been ludicrous. Just look at the earlobe stretchers that are popular today.

Comparing the effectiveness of online and offline

Now, fast forward to 2018. Ebiquity recently released an evaluation of online and offline media that revealed a major discrepancy between how marketers perceive the effectiveness of certain advertising mediums and how effective the channels actually are. (The study was funded by Radiocentre, but the report is independent, unbiased, and fair – after all, radio is far from dead.)

First, Ebiquity found agreement between marketers and the company’s own research that the most important media attributes to grow a long-term brand are those in blue.

For each of these attributes, Ebiquity compiled sets of rankings. The first was how well marketers and agencies thought each medium achieved a goal. The second was how well each medium actually performed, according to the company’s research and internal data.

The study assigned rankings for each attribute, but here was the end result. Ebiquity combined the weighted scores to release this final list of the perceived best mediums and the actual most effective ones.

Some observations. First, it is encouraging to see that television ranks first in both sets. As I discussed in a keynote talk at FICCI Frames in India two weeks ago, TV is very much alive.
Second, marketers think that online video and social media are the second- and third-best mediums for brand building. But in contrast, Ebiquity found that the top six mediums are actually traditional ones that are always proclaimed as “dead”.

“With the exception of TV, advertisers undervalue traditional media, especially radio,” the report’s summary states. “They overrate the value of online video and paid social. There is a clear disconnect between the scale of investment in online media and the value it delivers. Re-evaluating the media mix may help advertisers better achieve long-term brand growth.”

Read the rest in The Drum!

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