Digital advertising is not in a good place in my opinion. Call me old fashioned, but there are a couple of fundamental things that are missing, when it comes to delivering quality advertising campaigns.
I run with a friend in the industry, and on one run, in between coughing up a lung, we got into a debate as to whether digital campaigns are strategically planned as creative solutions or if they are merely volume-driven placements that utilize subpar creatives to meet the goal of ticking a box by reaching mass audiences.
I know which side of the fence I sit on when it comes to this argument, and this position is driven by two key facts. Firstly, many campaigns that are briefed in come with very little insight on what the actual objectives and KPI’s of the campaign are. Secondly when last did you actually see a rich media campaign, or a digital creative execution that made you sit up and think, “Wow, that is impressive!”, or made you want to actually share it with a colleague or friend? There just doesn’t seem to be enough time, or capacity to dig deep into each campaign and build solutions that are unique; speak to the campaign requirements; and above all surprise or delight consumers.
The inherent nature of the digital medium dictates the fact that it is a volume driven medium, and when it comes to advertising, more often than not, quantity sadly beats quality. Instead of dedicating time to crafting a thoroughly planned and executed campaigns, the typical outcome tends to be mediocre creative executions that, despite themselves, still manage to achieve results. There seems to be this prevailing notion that says, “If I throw enough mud against the wall, something is bound to stick, right?” However, in so doing, you may be winning the battle and delivering mass audiences, but you certainly aren’t going to be winning the war for hearts and minds when it comes to building your brand and developing a longer term commitment toward your products
Tech is amazing, and we should be embracing the good things that algorithms; programmatic buying and the sheer scale that digital brings to the table. I still however firmly believe that working with real people who care about their relationship with you, who are committed to providing you the best solutions that they can, and who have a keen interest in delivering on your KPI’s, counts for a lot.
Besides all of this, when did we forget that people actually love some of the media brands they consume? That they trust and respect the opinions voiced on the platforms they visit every day, and above all, that they consider any brands running on those publications to be endorsed by them, making consumers that much more likely to convert?
I believe that advertising in reputable publications, which feature professionally written, fact-based articles, and are associated with premium brands that align with your own, is important. We should be evaluating each campaign based on its own merits and providing the best solution, on the best platform rather than running mass reach campaigns that are essentially replicas of successful plans that targeted similar audiences. Somewhere along the line we started to settle for less when it comes to digital and ticking boxes became much more important than doing things the right way and ensuring we do the best job for our advertisers.
I remember walking into Hunt Lascaris a few years ago and emblazoned across their reception wall, was a quote by James C. Collins which I believe is apt with where we find ourself with digital advertising – “Good is the Enemy of Great.”
By Mark Botha, Head of Digital at Mediamark