Opinion: Common Sense that Digital Marketers Ignore

There’s a lot of talk in the digital media about what is and what isn’t the future, and the current state of marketing. And to me, some of it feels like nonsense. Like how every brand wants to get in on programmatic despite the evidence of corruption in the form of media rebates which can remove objectivity from decision making. Looking at the above graph gives a moment for pause. And we must additionally recognize that universities and research firms, even media publications can be paid to say or claim whatever an agency wants them to if they’re willing to compromise. Here are a few things to consider:

TV is not dead

It’s still the primary way we consume content. But it is a bit ill due to:

  • DVR penetration,
  • Ad free platforms,
  • On demand,
  • Online (cord cutters)

These things are making the 75% continually less effective as an ad platform. Marketers are stuck in a pincer movement of ineffectual TV and other major media and the absence of reach and presence of shortcomings in digital. We need to gaze into that abyss. I hoped naively that digital might come of age. It hasn’t. But I still see both sides arguing they are ‘the best’ while Rome is silently incinerated around them.


Fail Smart, Not Fast

I agree that strategy has to be the answer, but I have to say the answers are getting harder to find. An alarming number of clients and agencies eschew thinking harder for some misappropriated idea of rapid prototyping and fast failure. Labeling it ‘design thinking‘ doesn’t make it any less of a wild stab in the darkness. Usually expensive stabbing. With a spoon. In a pitch black vacuum. And it probably upsets the real design thinkers to no end. Marketing strategy is getting harder to sell as a service and yet seems to be needed more than ever. And don’t get me started on marketing capability.

Client Before Agency

I’ve worked in agencies my whole career and have friends in the big agencies. I’ve seen the model change to one where the client’s best interests are not the basis of decisions, but rather planners are pushed into positing what is best for the agency – either publishers that give better kick backs or the current agency trading desks where client budget is pushed without proper evaluations done on whether it’s the right option to meet the objectives of the campaign. Marketers like Faisal Sheikh propose channels based on strategic direction and what will answer the objectives set. So many people working on agency and client side don’t have any idea how to do marketing strategy, let alone set objectives.

Start with Strategy

Digital is not a discipline, or a channel, to be seen as separate from ‘traditional marketing’. Technology presents us with new and potentially exhilarating ways of marketing to our audiences, but we are still talking to people – what matters is that those people experience the brand in the most appropriate, natural and yes, effective way. And of course strategy should come before the apportionment of marketing media and budgets. A customer-focused strategy gives businesses the best chance of getting their marketing right with fewer extortionate mistakes, makes them more sensitive to consumer needs and provides an essential framework to evaluate marketing activities against. Surely the best ‘strategy’ needs to be dynamic and evolve though, then act from it before reviewing the strategy again and so on. Perhaps there’s some reassurance in that – all is not lost if you don’t have a strategy, just put one in place now. And stay close to it.



Here is some insight from Gary Vaynerchuk on Media Snack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5pIm1OiWeE

Agree or disagree with Babar’s take on things? Share your opinion in the comments section. 

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