Trendy Digital Marketing: How Effective Till Date

Trendy Digital Marketing: How Effective Till Date

December 17, 2016

Many business managers automatically know what I am writing here after analyzing loads of articles and data; they are smart. This article is not for them. This article is dedicated to those who want to give a second thought on digital marketing’s effectiveness and like to see things from a different angle.

Being a marketing enthusiast and a keen reader of new marketing tools and theories, I have been reading articles online and offline. In both formats we have been reading that digital marketing is the next big thing and those who are not into it they will be driven out of market; I mean they will be ‘outdated’ marketers or companies! It gives a sheer fear and sends shiver down my spine! To stay within market place and digital space I have been investing time in digital space and started reading more! That actually has given me some interesting insights which I would like to share here.

What is Digital Marketing? “Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media is called digital marketing.” This is probably the simplest form of definition of digital marketing by Dave Chaffey. 

Digital marketing (social media marketing, blogging, email marketing, SEO, SEM, content marketing, e-commerce, m-commerce etc.) are the buzz words to business and marketing fraternity. These words attract people like anything. Spending in social media channels or writing funky designation explanations or descriptors (like, digital strategist, digital geek, digital marketer, digital and social marketing evangelist etc.) has become a trend. Doing either of the jobs marketers feel happy and brag off. But most them carry on as if digital marketing is social media marketing!

The reality is, 83% of consumers reported that they have had a “bad experience with social media marketing”, source: webbiquity.com.

To me and to some marketers marketing has never changed; it is always about knowing customers, finding and designing the right products for them – and then segmenting marketing channels to reach the right audience. That maybe digital, that maybe print; it must be a combination of both. Or that maybe face-to-face! Marketing budget should be focused on the objective and outcomes we want – NOT separated into specific channels. And if we get back to the marketing basics, we should drive our business based on real customer needs, not what is trendy!

For a decade or more so-called industry analysts and gurus are crying, “TV is dead!” If they were right “television was supposed to be dead by now”. Actually changes in consumer behavior are over-stated; TV is a major medium across regions and continents. According to Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey Q1 2015 versus Q1 2013, there were almost no change or 1% plus/minus change is observed in ads of TV, Print, and Magazine. Ads on online video channels, social networks and mobile devices are slightly decreasing. In Bangladesh, in a tea category consumer survey we have found at least 84% of the consumers are exposed to TV. So, where should we spend money? The answer is ‘TV’ and other traditional media!

Decades back there was a much ado centering PR. People were saying advertising will die and public relations will rise. Al Ries and Laura Ries tried to ride on the brand-wagon and wrote a book titled ‘THE FALL OF ADVERTISING AND THE RISE OF PR’ in 2002. What do we see it now? Is advertising dead yet?

In reality, the more we are Facebook marketers the less we are digital marketer. We mostly focused on Facebook while thinking of digital; that is one big mistake actually what we do every day. Facebook is also maneuvering with its different statistics. In the Digital Marketing Summit 2016, Fergus O’Hare, Director of Facebook Creative Shop for APAC, Facebook was prosecuting about all video contents and specially Facebook videos. While discussing power of video, at Le Meridien Hotel, he mentioned a 60-second video is equal to 1.8 million words, a 3-second video is equal to 90 thousand words; a 3-second video is equal to reading a book etc. Actually the point is, Facebok is trying to sell their video ads platform. Fergus O’Hare interestingly was urging to unlearn 100 years advertising learning and inspiring to learn new things; which is very correct for progressive marketing managers. At the same time, it is true that the fundamentals of 100 years advertising have little been changed; the basics of advertising and marketing are always there and will be. Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief of WPP, a British multinational advertising and public relations company, has nullified Facebook’s claim, in October this year, mentioning Facebook’s effectiveness claim is erroneous and extravagant.

The top three social networks used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn (91%); Twitter (85%); and Facebook (81%). However, just 62% of marketers say that LinkedIn is effective, while 50% say the same for Twitter and only 30% of B2B marketers view Facebook as effective. December 2014 (Source: CMO Council)

WHAT ARE THE DIGITAL MARKETING CHANNELS?

Facebook rolled out its ad products in late 2007. The platform, in its initial years, was fairly open providing organic reach to its advertisers but as the user-base became strong, Facebook tweaked its advertising and monetization strategy, tightening the rope around the organic reach of brand posts. I have been trying to develop and manage two Facebook pages for last 6 months. Initially I have noticed Facebook did not push or allow posts to anybody. My objective was very clear – before I started to promote, I wanted to study the scroll-history. Now from last month I have been noticing it is reaching some people roughly ten/twelve. Why and how? It’s maybe due to the page-fans because in 6 months journey we have sent requests to some of our colleagues and friends to like those pages. What I am trying to say is this; Facebook hardly allows opportunity for organic reach nowadays. On the other hand Facebook video advertising and 3-second view counts has been a debatable topic to the marketing fraternity around the world. “The specific error Facebook made was in its ‘average duration of video viewed’ measure. Up until last month, Facebook calculated this number by dividing the total minutes a video had been watched by the total number of views. The problem with that approach is that Facebook only counts a view when three seconds or more of time have elapsed – roughly the time period it would take to scroll through a video without actually processing it – but it was counting every single second of exposure from all users. The millions of users who did not make it to the third second of the video weren’t included in the calculation, but their billions of scrolling seconds were. The end result was a metric that was over-stated by up to 80% for the past two years.” (www.marketing week.com, by Mark Ritson on 26 Sep 2016)

Not only this, another point was that advertisers would be able to run a free Facebook page and their “fans” would just flock to it, share it with their friends, who would then share it with their friends in an outbreak of everyday viral serendipity. Now Facebook is traditional paid display advertising, big fat ads in the middle of the page. It’s not social media as we were led to believe social media would evolve.

YouTube remains the world’s largest online video site, but its supremacy is under threat from numerous other sites, social networks and publishers that are targeting a bigger share of the online video market.

Facebook’s focus on video marketing formats is more recent, but brands such Samsung have published case studies on the Facebook for Business website reporting strong return on investment from Facebook videos, albeit bound up with responses from other ad formats on the social network. But a lot of other brands did not get expected return on advertising investment. Graham Mudd, Facebook’s director of ad product marketing, suggests that social networking has increasingly become the forum for people to share and view video content. The company believes this trend, combined with its wealth of user data, makes it an increasingly attractive proposition to video advertisers.

Sir Martin Sorrell, the boss of a British multinational advertising and public relations company, mentions in an interview that there is still a lot of work to be done before social media catches up to the power of search. “Facebook can’t really claim that a three-second view when 50% of the time the sound is off is the same as a 15-second, a 30-second, a 60-second TV ad or someone reading a The Times for 40 minutes,” he said. He interestingly said Facebook’s recent error in viewability stats is actually a “good” because it focuses clients’, media buyers’ and the media’s attention on the issue.

Recently in a report in an UK publication Leonie Roderick  on 10 August 2016, wrote, P&G is shifting its marketing spend away from Facebook advertising that targets specific groups of consumers after finding it did not always lead to the expected sales boost. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand officer, said the company took the strategy too far. Important points here to be noted are the focus on reach and precision.

Having experienced annual sales drop of 8% P&G is going back to basics. Chief executive David Taylor said that in order to “restart” revenue growth the company needs to “get back to making consumers aware of its products and communicating their benefits”. The P&G approach is refreshingly old school. The plan is for reach among broadly defined segments with the aim of boosting sales. For a mass market brand like P&G, getting in front of as many consumers as possible is key. It needs to drive trial and consideration, so that when people are standing in a supermarket deciding on which toothpaste brand to buy, they pick a P&G brand, mentions a report.

On the other hand, the adage.com reported, “Unilever Finds Social-Media Buzz Really Does Drive Sales.” Positive mentions in social media have been proved to drive sales for Unilever brands, according to Shawn O’Neal, VP-global people data and marketing analytics for the company. “That finding, delivered in a talk at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Measurement Conference in Miami, may seem unsurprising to many people. But it’s a particularly interesting finding given some context. Mr. O’Neal’s boss is Stan Sthanunathan, senior VP of consumer and market insights at Unilever, who headed global market research at Coca-Cola in 2013 when a research team from that company reached a very different conclusion. Coke researchers discussed a study at the Advertising Research Foundation Re:Think Conference in 2013 finding online buzz had no measurable impact on short-term sales.” (Source: adage.com by Jack Neff. Published on September 18, 2015)

Let us look at local outlook too, sharing a recent experience from Bangladesh, this year we have run one TV commercial in April 2016 targeted to age group of 20-35 years old who are interested about tea and any form of teas, in Youtube and Facebook where we got these results. (Source: Mediacom Limited)

As a marketer should I be happy with these? Facebook is showing total view 1.7 million (as they count 3-second view is total view) where full view of the TVC was only 16.20%. Or, Youtube’s total view was 0.939 million (as they count 30-second view is total view let alone the video is 60 seconds or 300 seconds) whereas full view is only 2.10%? So, how effective are they? There is “a place” for online advertising, of course, “but we really don’t know what it is yet”,

Twitter as a social medium is not a mentionable tool in Bangladesh. In a recent report we saw Twitter itself is suffering with own business model and actively searching for buyers who can take over and help them! Instagram is somehow manageable from Facebook account/adverts but not proven as an effective marketing platform. Comparatively, Youtube advertisements are popular and interesting. But how effective are pre-roll adverts? Web surfers are compelled to watch those? Or must watch those? I don’t think so!

Apple, Advertising veteran  Bob Hoffman mentions, are big spenders on traditional advertising. “They do television commercials, they do billboards, they do magazines. It’s remarkable. Here is the most successful technology company in the world and for their advertising; they’re using almost exclusively traditional methods.”

TRENDY DIGITAL MARKETING: WHY AND WHAT TO LOOK AT?

The delusions

Bob Hoffman, the author of a blog called the Ad Contrarian spent 41 years working in the US industry, and in the latter years, he participated in what he calls the ‘golden age of bullshit’. Since retiring, he has enlivened industry events by talking bluntly about the ‘delusions’ he says have afflicted his profession. Brand Love, online advertising, social media were some of these delusions. He mentions, overconfidence, and sometimes blind faith, in the merits of online advertising is chief among these delusions.

No one really reads, they digitally skim

“You are probably skimming this article. I was once told, paper is for the heart, the screen is for the head. The way people consume information has evolved – folks want information quick and easy; infographics, videos, pictures, you name it. Multimodality and omni-channel is the name of the game; people simply don’t have the time (or the desire) to consume information that requires a hefty time investment. Quick bursts that effectively summarize a topic get a message across far more effectively than a lengthy document.” Hank Ostholthoff, CEO, MABBLY mentions in his blog.

They say, in the western world content marketing is a hit and effective tool of digital marketing. But in Bangladesh does anybody read content? Who cares to read lines and pages in fact?

Digital overload

In today’s digital world everyone suffers from attention overload, particularly when it comes to digital advertising. The average digital display ad is glanced at for just over 2 seconds, and the average online video is viewed for 12 seconds. We cannot assume that digital marketing will have a positive effect on the brand. Millward Brown’s Brand Lift Insight studies find that the best digital campaigns have a measurable and significant positive effect on brand equity but equally many have the opposite effect, undermining brand equity not building it. Poorly executed content, excess frequency, stalker-like retargeting and poor placement all threaten online effectiveness. (Source: millwardbrown.com)

Online and Digital contents carry less trust, thus somehow untrustworthy

People tend to distrust online ads because everyone at any point of time at least once is or was bombarded with ‘click now’ ads; and experienced virus, explicit contents, malware etc. ‘Click now’ online ads are a descendant of sorts ‘what we used to call junk mail’. They attract, blink, wink and results in nuisance and disappointment. Gradually this started changing, still people distrust a lot.

If I separate digital marketing into online marketing tools and social media marketing then it gives a better choice. Online marketing tools and channels apparently are more effective than social media marketing. Because on social media people have their own agenda, they talk more and listen less. They are not even in a mood to be engaged. Those who are getting engaged with likes, comments, reviews and shares how effective and important are they?

Ad blocking apps and software are on the rise

Digital came to us ready fragmented and it continues to splinter. Brands have responded by using ad networks, addressability and retargeting to pursue their consumers across the web. Content owners chasing revenue growth have added more ad space and offered more intrusive ad formats. As a result, people are increasingly turning to ad blockers to clean up their digital experience. The ability to reach people with a pre-determined message is being undermined.

The short-termism

Sir Martin Sorrell believes, “brands are becoming increasingly cautious and that a focus on costs is driving short-termism. He explained how the declining length of tenure of CEOs, CFOs and CMOs is a result of short-term thinking brought about by factors including tech disruption, zero-based budgeters and activist investors.” Sometimes CMOs want to create frenzy ideas to show off and to prove how different they are! Once David Ogilvy said there are two kinds of enemies of a brand, one is a new CMO/Marketing Head and a new agency. Both want to put their mark! Digital marketing has fueled them this opportunity to be trendy, creative and ideabaaj (person with ideas). Some of them maybe try not to be ‘traditionalist’ only.

Building positioning requires time

In brand marketing metrics, brand awareness and associations are the core issues which usually are gauged over time to see deviations in brand equity over a period. To build ‘right’ positioning reach and frequency, in right media, is needed along with the right message. Positioning helps build distinctive brand over time. It needs ‘consistency, consistency and consistency’ of powerful insights/differentiators and powerful mass media tools. Once positioning is built using TV and other media, Facebook and online advertising may suffice additionally.

5+ reach thoughts

Some FMCG brands plan to reach 5+ times, some Telco brands plan to reach 10+ times within a campaign period to convince wider audience and try to persuade consumers to register brand names and memories so that in the moments of truth they can recall the brand easily. These are actually done better through mass media, TV & Radio. It will not be applicable in same way or in same degree for everyone; it depends. For example, online e-commerce sites like pickaboo.com, bikroy.com, amazon.com; their major medium is online and it will remain so.

Opinions are aplenty; so do our choices

People are invariably positive about digital marketing while only a few study further. Sometimes we have got trendy gurus with whom we consult, but rarely study further. Here, I have tried to put some different thoughts so that managers can challenge their own ideas and views before launching or pouring money into any digital plan.

“What’s key is that the right message is placed at the right time on the right channel, which is why insight and data is so important. Like with all channels we, as marketers, need to look at the return and decide if Facebook is a good fit.”

Illusions and delusions

In marketing or any business field people tend towards new happening or buzz ideas. Like other field currently marketing world’s new buzz words/topics are: Content Marketing, Social Media, Digital Marketing, Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Cloud Computing, Startups, Storytelling etc. “If you go back ten or 12 years, we were told that people would want to interact with advertising. This has turned out to be a complete fantasy,” Bob Hoffman notes. Social media marketing, too, has proven a festival of cringe, rooted in a “fantasy of brand love” in which consumers will jump to “join the conversation” about every two-bit product. But “no one in their right mind” wants to engage with advertising, he mentions these are delusions.

Digital space is always an illusion. Today something is very correct and tomorrow it has got no value at all. People tend to believe less in digital contents. Like human psychology, we are fickle-minded and so does our online activities. Digital impressions are very transient.

“A lost generation” of marketing leaders?

Recently in an internal study at Unilever Global found out 92% of marketing team members had done the training on digital marketing and 8% did not complete those. Indicating this, Unilever chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed, in the Festival of Marketing 2016, is urging “a lost generation” of marketing leaders to tool up for digital or risk getting left behind. He mentioned “we have three versions of people. On one side we have the digital natives who have been born and bred in a digital world. On the other side we have people like myself in my 50s who have children in their 20s and if I didn’t engage with them on digital platforms I wouldn’t have a relationship with my children. “In the middle we have what I call the ‘lost generation’, people in their late 30s and early 40s who don’t yet have grown up children who are digital natives and weren’t digital natives themselves. These are the very people who are leading so many of our brands and businesses, and they’re bluffing too much about digital!” Digital marketing needs to be more mainstreamed he added and suggested to do marketing in a digital world rather than digital marketing. In global markets, digital marketing is still running like an infant industry where people are learning things by doing every day.

CONCLUSION: BUT NOT YET CONCLUSIVE

Facebook ads are good for mass and precision targeting. In Bangladesh online literacy rate and consumer behavior is yet to be shaped. On the course of time we shall experience a matured digital space. The good is, digital marketing is growing fast and getting effective! Whilst the bad is, it demonstrates the challenges that still remain. For mass brands and FMCG products getting in front of as many consumers as possible is key. So, mass advertising and mass media are appropriate. Kevin McNair, BritVic, GB Marketing Director, says that tight audience targeting is right for some brands but less so for FMCG companies. Brands will ultimately have to find the right balance. Marketers need to consider platform, context and content to successfully communicate to their desired audience. In that case, digital marketing is just a channel choice. No conclusion still will be conclusive.

S M Didarul Hasan

Manager, Brand Marketing

M. M. Ispahani Limited

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