My new column is live in The Drum:
How digital marketing is directly contributing to climate change
The planet is on fire – and digital marketing is partly to blame, argues columnist Samuel Scott.
The earth has a finite amount of space and resources. Basing our companies, marketing models and entire economies on the need for continuous, neverending growth might not be the best idea.
After I graduated from university, my first full-time job in journalism in the US was as a staff reporter for The Boston Courant. The weekly newspaper covered the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, and part of the South End neighborhoods in the city. Although the publication never really ‘grew’, it was seemingly very profitable.
What was the paper’s business strategy? Cover the richest parts of Boston, and charge companies a lot of money to advertise to the people who live there. (Former US senator and secretary of state John Kerry’s home is on Beacon Hill.)
‘Growth’ was not a part of the plan. If the Courant would have expanded into other, poorer neighborhoods, the average wealth – and thereby value – of the paper’s readership would have declined. The publication’s circulation remained constant while the publisher would increase profits by raising advertising rates periodically.
At a time when many companies care more about growth and less about profits, marketers could learn from that newspaper. For a moment, forget about ‘growth’. Forget that ‘digital’ is not a marketing strategy, tactic or channel but a type of technology. Forget that people calling themselves ‘growth hackers’ or ‘digital marketers’ are actually limiting themselves and telling the world that they can use only a small number of the available tools in the marcom toolbox.
The worst thing about ‘growth hacking’ and digital advertising today is that they are directly contributing to climate change.