Are You Marketing or Are You Digitaling?

Why have we given up Marketing for Digitaling?

When was the last time you heard someone demand Marketing First?

Yet, I cannot count how many times I have heard the empty mantra of Digital First at conferences, as headlines in the trade press or as descriptors of the latest new, amazing, never-before-seen “agency model.”

Cutting to the chase…Marketing First really means People First. Digital First or Mobile First really means nothing – one describes a technology, the other a state of being…neither describes you.

My loyal readers know my perspective of “Digital is everything, but not everything is Digital,” which informs my view of the world and centers on the People First philosophy I espouse.

And my loyal readers know that I like to share multiple viewpoints and sources so that they and you…if you continue to read…can shape your own informed POV despite my obvious bias.

So here goes…

Since Retail, as in Brick and Mortar, is dead and gone…it’s a known fact that only online advertising has any effectiveness in driving sales. Except it’s not true, as covered in Harvard Business Review:

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in the first quarter of 2017 most purchases happened offline. Retail e-commerce accounted for about 8.5% of total retail sales, and although it is growing much faster than brick-and-mortar retail, that still leaves more than 90% of sales that are difficult to connect to online advertising exposure. This is a problem for Google, which wants to convince marketers that online ads are effective.

Knee-Jerk Alert – I’m not suggesting that e-commerce isn’t important – it’s critical and growing and, more importantly, evolving. Yet, if you approach sales by Digitaling vs. Marketing, you are ignoring Amazon…which I am ready to bet the farm on that you respect as the best Digital retailer. And you are ignoring people – as in potential customers – who live lives that are way bigger than their mobile devices.

Seems to me that Digitaling is an easy cop-out. Digital First seems to follow today’s conventional wisdom (and you know what I think about conventional wisdom) and, as I have written many times, we are actually limiting the true potential and power of Digital channels with our Digibabble approach.

According to Marketing Week:

Almost half of online campaigns don’t reach their target audience, showing the struggle many brands face to target effectively through digital…

The study conducted by measurement company Nielsen found UK campaigns reach their target just 47% of the time. Travel brands are the most successful at reaching their desired audience, at 66% of the time. Entertainment came in second at 64%, while FMCG and retail struggled, at just 40% and 42%.

Nielsen puts the results down to the fact digital has not lived up to marketers’ expectations and that many brands are not using digital in the way it should be used, with targeting not being conducted correctly.

Knee-Jerkers, pay heed…I repeat:

Nielsen puts the results down to the fact digital has not lived up to marketers’ expectations and that many brands are not using digital in the way it should be used, with targeting not being conducted correctly.

The issue is not that Digital can’t or doesn’t target. The issue is that we don’t use the channels or think about targeting in the right way. We are Digitaling…not Marketing.

Taking a Digitaling approach, it’s clear why there is so much controversy over what constitutes attributable viewing – as in based on what advertisers should pay for. Marketing Week reports:

Marketers continue to ‘waste money’ as only 9% of digital ads are viewed for more than a second….

Since January 2016, research firm Lumen has used laptop-mounted eye tracking cameras on 300 consumers’ laptops to collect visual data on what they notice when they are online. And over this period the study, which was run in partnership with Nectar-owner Aimia, recorded 30,000 minutes of data, with evidence relating to around 15,000 digital ads.

It found that only 35% of digital display ads received any views at all. And, of those, only 9% of ads received more than a second’s worth of attention. Only 4% of ads, meanwhile, received more than 2 seconds of engagement….

On the whole, almost half (40%) of press ads are viewed for more than one second, compared to just 9% of digital ads, according to the Lumen study. A quarter of print ads are viewed for more than two seconds, nearly six times the rate of digital.

If we took a Marketing approach, we would be demanding an even better metric than the comparison to press ads, as we “know” that our digital ads are way more precisely targeted, ergo of exponential interest to the viewer…no?

As long as we are on the subject of targeting here is the difference between Digitaling and Marketing. According to E-Consultancy, “Highly targeted online ads don’t work”:

[Stanford researchers] found that the most personalized ads were less effective because consumers worried they were being exploited.

For example, says [Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Pedro Gardete], someone looking for a prom dress ‘might get an ad from a retailer saying, “We have a wide selection of prom dresses! Click on this link!” The consumer clicks, and it turns out the retailer has dresses for all occasions but not specifically proms,’ says Gardete.

Those kinds of ads frustrate consumers and eventually become meaningless to them.

Based on this, Gardete suggests that businesses might adopt a “less is more” approach in which less information is collected, information collection is more transparent, and targeting is used more sparingly.

Doesn’t make you a Luddite or a dinosaur…just makes you a better marketer.

And then, of course, there is the rush to influencer Digitaling as opposed to smart influencer Marketing.

Forbes reports:

In the rush to go after the hottest influencers, brands have forgotten the most important thing: Influencer marketing is still marketing that has to follow traditional marketing rules… Of [Kendall Jenner’s] combined 185 million followers across four social media platforms (ignoring the fact that many of them are the same person following her on multiple platforms), only an estimated 37% reside in the U.S. and their core interests include pop music and entertainment. Beauty ranks lower on the list, and you can be sure that it doesn’t apply to her 28% male followers. What does that leave us with? If we’re selling in the U.S. and hoping to reach a female audience that’s interested in beauty products, we’ve lost at least 50 to 75% of that initial follower number, if not more.

Solely referring to influencers’ vanity metrics can have a negative impact on marketing campaigns. As social media platforms become saturated, having access to audience insights is paramount to influencer marketing success.

I don’t call this traditional vs. new – I call it smart vs. not so smart…using celebs and influencers is as old as humankind…we are losing the plot…

And then, of course, we all know that TV is dead…except that Game of Thrones hit record live TV viewing:

[L]ast night’s “Dragonstone” episode snagged 10.1 million viewers for its premiere. Telling of how TV is consumed today, the opener pulled in another 6 million viewers on same-day DVR playback and streaming via HBO Go and HBO Now….

The 10.1 million viewership total is up 27% over what the Season 6 debut drew in late April last year.

Only if you are Digitaling do you relegate TV to a narrow definition of a decade ago…Marketers understand that TV is as broad and varied as the people who watch the shows.

I will wrap up with a classic example that I hope gives you pause to consider…comparing two major artists’ music releases within a similar time period. One via Digitaling thinking…the other Marketing – judge for yourself:

“Adele Is Said to Reject Streaming for ‘25’,” according to The New York Times.

The results?

The first album to ever sell one million copies two weeks in a row…the first album to sell more than three million copies in a week…and she beat the single-week record for an album since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991.

For the Knee-Jerkers, Billboard reported the sales were evenly split between physical and digital…and for the Digitalers, it’s the same problem as the narrow definition of TV.

Real Marketers, take note from Forbes:

The British superstar has been able to convince millions upon millions to rush out to stores and online outlets and spend their hard-earned money on her art, week after week. That’s meaningful, and it speaks both to Adele’s power as an artist, as well as the public’s appreciation for what she’s creating and the fact that it has a real, monetary value.

On the other hand:

“Madonna Turns to Grindr for ‘Rebel Heart’ Contest,” reported Rolling Stone.

A few months after the launch, Forbes made it clear:

After several decades and thirteen albums, it’s looking like Madonna may finally have a true flop on her hands… Madonna’s first album in close to twenty years not to make it to number one…and the first album of Madonna’s career not to have a top 40 hit.

Bottom line – I think the battle between Digitaling and Marketing is the battle for future success, and I believe that the winners will be those who understand marketing and people…listen:

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Peter Drucker

Ask yourself what’s the aim of Digitaling. Digital First? Honestly, it has nothing to do with customers, but rather everything to do with Digibabble.

Be a Marketer…by definition you will be a Digitaler…but the reverse is not even close.

What do you think?

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