Digital Ad Spend Grows But What About the Investment?

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When I look at infographics, I am looking not just at the facts and figures (boring) – I am looking a the underlying story. I want to understand what is taking place behind the numbers. I seek insight and connection between the sources of information, the behaviours of the industry and opportunities for the future.

So this infographic from Invesp, fired up my neurones.

Summarising the state of play for the digital advertising industry globally, it shows just how dominant Google remains in the face of challenges from social networks. A staggering 42.6% of ad spending finds its way into the search giant’s coffers, while Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft duke it out for less than half of that combined.

From an industry point of view, growth in digital advertising indicates a certain level of health. It shows that digital has firmly moved out of the experimental mode and is now a core part of a marketer’s arsenal. But it also raises significant questions – after all, if spending is increasing, are we also seeing a rise in investment? And by investment I mean:

  • Evaluating and implementing marketing platforms and technologies: Pumping more budget into digital is going to also shift the focus towards digital engagement. After all, a digital call to action can result in a click, a download, a sale and so on … and if that is the case, what investments are marketers making in terms of marketing platforms and systems of engagement? Which platforms are you evaluating for marketing automation or social media management? How are you tracking conversion, monitoring the velocity of online conversation and improving rates of conversion? CMOs should evaluate their marketing processes and look for automation opportunities.
  • Building the capacity and experience of your teams: The digital marketing skills gap continues to widen. For decades, marketers have been forced to do more with less – and now as the demand for digital skills accelerates, many CMOs find themselves responsible for teams who have transitioned from into “digital” from more “traditional” marketing fields. This has resulted in teams with limited or poor digital experience, basic skills and little time to build capacity. CMOs should carry out a Digital Skills Audit as a matter of priority.
  • Investing in customer engagement strategy: Much of our marketing strategy is built around maximising the value of channels. It’s time to stop this nonsense. We need to map customer journeys and then invest in engagement that adds value to the customer experience at key “moments of truth”. This means stepping away from the channel. Even if that channel is “digital first”. 

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What have I missed? What have I mis-read? What else needs to be improved?

digital-ad-spending

Advertising in 2020 – Let’s Hope There’s Fire

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John Willshire and Mark Earls make you think. They chisel and shape ideas until they are sharp enough to be carved into your mind.

As part of the Wharton Future of Advertising program, they put together this presentation that provokes a conversation around advertising and what it might look like in the year ahead. Take a look through, it’s quick and it will challenge you. Then read on below …

One of the things that caught my attention was a simple statement. “Make things people want [is greater than] Make people want things”.

This seems to be self-evident, but in practice it requires an alternative way of thinking. Almost all of our marketing theory and practice centres on the stimulation of desire. We deliberately create items, objects and experiences that are limited in their availability and then we amplify not only the fact of existence, but the fact of their scarcity.

And yet, we live in an age of abundance. We all know it. Yet we still play out this game of scarcity. I find it interesting. I find it fascinating that we are complicit in this form of cultural production that we call advertising. But I also predict a seachange ahead.

We are going to have to work a whole lot harder to generate the kind of engagement and interest that advertising once commanded. Our connected consumers have outflanked, outranked and even out-performed us. Mark and John are right. We will need marketing and advertising that is bolder than we have been in decades. And decidedly more primal. We’ll need to relinquish the calculator and the paperclip and step out from behind the mirrored glass and meet our customers face to face.

Big data may hold the answers – but we’re far from understanding the most basic of questions. Mark and John have lit a signal fire but it’s not off in the distance. Look down, it’s right under our arses.