Winning in Digital Advertising

As many leading marketers kick-off 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show, it is a good time to consider New Years resolutions. How can we do better?

A must-read is the short book BadMen by Bob Hoffman, the former CEO of three digital advertising agencies. The book correctly kicks-off addressing the massive privacy challenges created by digital advertising. It then dives deeper to question if display marketing, as it’s practiced today, actually works. A powerful quote in the book:

You are probably getting about 3¢ worth of
actual ads seen by actual people for every dollar
you spend on display advertising.

The book is self-admittedly biased. The Forrester Research stat is that “as much as 56% of all ad dollars were lost due to fraudulent or un-viewable inventory.” Maybe the answer is somewhere in between. Many in our industry will shrug their shoulders and nod hearing these stats.

As Peter Drucker said:

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

Only advertisers who hold their supply chain accountable towards honest outcomes will be in the best position to outperform. You can’t implement solutions such as artificial intelligence to automate the buying or selling of digital advertising to outperform when the underlying data these algorithms rely on is faulty and not trusted.

Cooperating towards optimal outcomes between brands, agencies, vendors and publishers will produce better results overall. Yet leading the drive towards higher value advertising outcomes and technology transformation is often tougher than waiting for the industry to change. The most significant hurdle is cultural.

The auto industry provides a good analogy. Ford and General Motors were late in the game to compete with Tesla even while they knew that automating driving and introducing electric vehicle technology would inevitably be the future. Tesla’s market capitalization is now about the size of both companies combined.

Implementing new technologies requires curiosity, interest, teamwork and dedication. It comes with a significant investment of time to get started. This may seem daunting. But the alternative is risking a loss of market competitiveness. The opportunity is doing right by clients to help them drive revenue and supporting a healthy internet ecosystem.

2020 is here. It will be fun to watch who will be the winners and losers in digital advertising as we start this new decade.

Happy New Years!