Are You Not Entertained?!?!?! How To Spend Money On Advertising (Like You Just Don't Care)

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What won’t an advertiser do to get in front of your face?

How does the title of this The New York Times Article grab you: Chase Had Ads on 400,000 Sites. Then on Just 5,000. Same Results? My second reaction was this: advertising is a game of diminishing returns when it’s all driven by impressions. Brands would best be served to know at which point they’re overdoing it and simply spending money on advertising because they can. My first reaction was that I almost chocked to death on my morning oatmeal from laughing at the headline. One of my business partners at Mirum is a long-term veteran of the direct marketing wars. He was there, in the trenches, as that form of marketing took hold and captured smarter marketers’ attention. At that period in time, most young graduates looking for a career in advertising and marketing would interview at that agency (they were a large multinational agency). Through regular networking we became close friends, until he eventually joined our agency as one of the four business partners. Early on in the Twist Image/Mirum days, we would sweat over testing everything to make it perfect – from the code to the design to the copy. Our more experienced CEO would often tell us stories about how in the direct marketing days of yore, they would test every line of copy multiple times. Eventually, it became obvious that at a certain point, doing this was extracting no tangible benefits. Meaning: you can test and tweak all that you like in advertising, but at some point, “more” won’t make the outcome any better.

Brands need to listen to this.

It’s one thing to point at programmatic and blame the technology for feeding almost half a million websites the same brand ads. It’s another thing to pull your ads from YouTube because Google can’t guarantee where that ad might show up… and next to what kind of questionable content. There are arguments for (and against) all of that. Still, it takes a human to agree that a brand should be running ads for the same brand on 400,000 sites. It also takes a human to realize that advertising on 5000 sites sounds just about as crazy as 400,000 sites, when you stop and think about it for just a second.

We have officially gone from the ridiculous to the sublime, when it comes to digital advertising.

From the article: “‘It’s only been a few days, but we haven’t seen any deterioration on our performance metrics,’ Ms. Lemkau said in an interview on Tuesday. She added that the company had also pulled ads from YouTube in the past week after reports showed other major advertisers like Verizon unintentionally appearing on videos promoting hate speech and terrorism. JPMorgan aims to restrict its ads on the platform to a ‘human-checked’ list of 1,000 YouTube channels, which it expects to be able to do by the week of April 10, she said.” 

What’s going on here?

The advertising industry is a significant one. While the global advertising market will slow down a little this year to 3.7% (according to the MediaPost article, Ad Revenue Growth Predicted To Rise 3.7% In 2017, Digital Will Soar), it will still be a $511 billion year. Half of a trillion dollars is the size of the advertising industry in 2017, and digital will grow by double-digits to become the top media category this year bumping out television advertising for the first time ever. It’s also important to consider this: While the ad industry is a $510+ billion a year business, think about the impact that the work has on our global economy and the GDP of countries. Advertising drives sales… let’s not forget that.

Still, digital advertising needs to fulfill on its promise. 

Success in digital advertising is viable and possible. Letting technology do the heavy lifting (at this point) doesn’t seem to be the answer. Let technology do what it does best (right now). At the same time, if the humans are not looking at where these ads are running, we will have more and more instances like the ones that we are currently experiencing. Plus, if any marketer in your organization thinks that being on 400,000 sites is better than being on 5000 sites, don’t just point them to these articles.

Poke them in the eye.