Article for Progress Magazine by: Dudley Masters, Account Director, Acumen Marketing Communications

So why would Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Marketing Officer, express dissatisfaction with digital advertising? Especially as digital advertising is still ‘on a roll’ and taking an increasing percentage of overall ad spending – over 40% this year in the US and headed for much more according to e-marketing specialists.

Issue One – Cost

Although digital advertising has more than demonstrated it’s great advantage in micro-targeting and minimizing coverage wastage, it’s a fact that typically, the more targeted the ads the higher the prices. So it can be expensive, per recipient, if you don’t get it absolutely right.

Issue Two – Understanding who is the actual buyer

A big part of ‘getting it right’ is defining your ‘interested’ prospects accurately. But surely, if your targets have been looking at your product then it’s a ‘no-brainer’ that they are
a prime purchase candidate?

Well yes, as long as they are doing the buying, but in b2c it could be their mum, brother, sister or other family member. Whereas in b2b, it could be another member of the decision-making team like a fund-holder. If your message is really micro-targeted it could miss its ‘buyer’ target.

Issue Three – Brand building with future customers

We all accept, I think, that positive brand values play an extremely important role in the purchase choice of many products or choice of retail or trade outlet. Knowing how your market is likely to develop, in general, can come out of research, but actually knowing the individuals that that are going to be future prospects is not a certainty. You could be talking to them now with broader coverage media.

Issue Four – Buyer stalking and anonymity

For some it’s a real advantage to be messaged with timely ads and offers. However, if you get the context, timing and frequency wrong it can become a negative with consumers looking for ways to block them. Research has shown that people feel ‘stalked’ by bad digital ads with pop-ups having a 73% disapproval rating (‘The State of Inbound’ report, Hubspot, July ’16).

Overall, 69% of consumers are uncomfortable with advertisers knowing their search history or that personal information has been collected (Inskin Media/RAPP Media
study Oct. ’14).

These issues could lead to some being less receptive and defending their right to anonymity.

A Viewpoint

So in the view of one of the World’s foremost marketing and advertising exponents (and me), there is a strong argument that to rely too much on micro-targeted digital advertising is questionable. It could actually lessen your immediate sales, reduce general market visibility, limit brand appreciation over the medium-term and annoy your prospect ‘base’. A plan that is based on a wide communications perspective, appraisal of all media options e.g. press, TV, radio, posters, exhibitions and their relative performance could be a better investment over time.

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