Seriously, when will people “get it” about digital marketing and advertising?

People love to advertise on TV

To a certain extent, all advertising is/was/always will be a junk science, but the facts you hear about how much money gets poured into TV (“old-school”) vs. digital (“new-school”) is stunning. To wit, check this out:

4. The average adult will spend 5.5 hours watching online video every day this year, according to eMarketer, as consumers move away from television in favor of digital devices.

5. However, New York-based eMarketer reported that brands are still pouring money into TV advertising. In 2015, 40 percent of media spending will go to TV, totaling $70.6 billion. Meanwhile, U.S. advertisers will put 4.4 percent of all spending, or $7.8 billion, into digital video ads. It appears to be an uneven allocation of funds—eMarketer said television accounts for 36 percent of media consumption compared with 11 percent for digital.


Think we have a problem here with “The Shrine Of Big Numbers.” People chase those because those look better on a presentation you give to your boss, even if they don’t mean anything. You know the highest-rated show on TV minus NFL, give or take? NCIS. You know who watches that religiously? Consumers that will be dead in 15-20 years. That’s not necessarily a “good business model,” per se. But people chase it because they want to say to their boss, “Well, sir, we had 22 million impressions this week…”

CMOs always talk about chasing analytics or digital marketing more — “increasing spend!” — but the questions are two-fold:

(1) Are they actually gonna do it?

(2) If they do it, will they do it right?

You can’t just go out and say “We’re committed to digital marketing!” or “We’re passionate about analytics!” That has repercussions way beyond just marketing. You need to hire differently, you need to message differently, you need to report back things differently, you need to move people around in ways that maximize them, etc. You can’t just say “We’re digital and data focused!” and expect to be. It takes people shifts, it takes logic shifts, it takes fundamental thought shifts, it takes new buy-in, etc.

So back to the question of the title of this post: when can we expect it to happen? When will people get it? This will happen in three waves, I’d reckon:

(1) Some brands/CMOs/orgs already do.

(2) Some will “get it” when they start losing market share or revenue to people who are chasing customers in more effective spaces.

(3) Some will never get it, and go do their “retire and travel the world” thing, leaving the challenges of consumer connection to the young bucks — the young bucks they probably never really trained or invested in, but that’s besides the point.

Lemme tell you a personal story that’s not about me in the least, so I guess it’s not really personal. My friend had an interview with Cadillac a couple of weeks ago. He’d be reporting directly to the CMO. First thing: that’s a cool job (ish) and he’s younger than me, so I’m clearly a professional train wreck. Second thing: in the interview, the CMO or whoever (his lieutenant) is talking about “being committed to increasing digital spend,” like I mentioned above. My friend has a background in all that, right? So he’s excited and he has some systems and ideas and processes to pitch. In the course of the convo, the CMO/lieutenant says “Well I mean, through 2017 we’re thinking 92 percent TV spend…”

You know what that means? “Basically we’re lip-servicing this digital idea — we’ll have a Facebook page, sure, and a Twitter! — but we’re gonna go chase the big fish where the big fish have always been chased.” It’s a joke. I feel the same way about people saying that as I do about “talent strategy.” If you care about it, spend time thinking about it.

Same with digital marketing. Don’t “increase spend” but then spend all your time, effort, and meetings on the traditional channels. Traditional channels die out. Hey, uh, remember voice mail?

Ted Bauer