Does digital advertising work as intended? Several loud, convincing voices say no.
This is what Econsultancy says: “The fact that some of the brightest, most qualified minds in the industry are admitting that digital advertising’s supposed efficacy is more myth than reality isn’t likely to dent advertisers’ faith in digital ads. But savvy advertisers might rethink their approach to digital channels.”
Why do clients continue to put faith in digital when the proof is missing from the digital pudding? I’m not sure that anyone can answer this non-rhetorical question. Maybe, Bob Hoffman.
All the Leaves Are Brown and the Sky Is Gray
From a media perspective, painting doom and gloom scenarios is a tried-and-true method for spreading a story. For example: “Algorithmic targeting may be technologically ingenious, but if you’re targeting the wrong thing then it’s of no use to advertisers.”
The mainstream media likes a good pile on. The New York Times is not above the fray: “The advertising industry faces an ‘existential need for change,’ according to a blunt report published by the research firm Forrester. Now the agencies must ‘disassemble what remains of their outmoded model’ or risk ‘falling further into irrelevance,’ the report concludes.”
Way at the bottom of the Times’ piece there’s a glimmer of hope, also known as editorial balance. “The gloom and doom is greatly exaggerated,” Chuck McBride, Cutwater’s founder, said. “Things are really messed up, but there’s (an) opportunity in this.”
In other words, you want to be the disruptor, not the disrupted.
I Got Down On My Knees and I Pretend To Pray
Greg Stern of Butler Shine Stern & Partners is another Bay Area advertising luminary who is gagging on the fumes of anti-advertising tomfoolery. In a new op-ed for Campaign, Stern took a cheap shot at Hoffman, before heading to higher ground.
The AdContrarian delivered his usual rant, only somewhat paraphrased as ‘no one in digital advertising has any idea what the hell they’re doing.’
The Sausalito ad man carried on: “Sometimes we need to look beyond our own industry’s perspective to find promise and a glimmer of hope,” Stern counseled. “I found it during the 11th annual National Summit for Courageous Conversation, a gathering of equity leaders sharing best practices and results from around the country in the effort for racial justice and equity.”
Yes, we do need to look beyond our own industry’s perspective. That’s a given.
Let me put this another way. We all need heroes and sources of inspiration to inform our work. Otherwise, the mirrors we hold up are not true reflections of culture. Instead, they’re a cheap hall of mirrors.
Editor’s note: Thank you to The Mamas & The Papas for making the above headline and subheads possible.