Marketing & Advertising delusions


  • We are living in a fantasyland—a fantasyland in which people want to engage with our “content”.
  • Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest advertiser, recently established its own database of 1.5 billion people because it says it cannot trust the data it gets from Facebook and Google.
  • Brands that are in the spotlight have a much higher likelihood of being successful than brands that are not in the spotlight. This is where we have leverage. For this reason alone all marketing communication should have a common objective–to find a piece of the spotlight.
  • According to research conducted by a professor at MIT, a fellow at the Melbourne Business School, and the Head of Operations and Technology at Group M, data that is informing your programmatic ad buys may not just be unproductive, it may be counterproductive. In one test, data bought from a data broker was able to correctly intuit the sex of an individual 43% of the time. A cat flipping a coin would be right 50% of the time.
  • It has become a generally accepted truth in the marketing industry in recent years that we are too focused on short-term results and not focused enough on brand building.

I’m a big fan of Bob Hoffman. His experience managing agencies and large brands have led to someone who understands that marketing and advertising have moved too much to data and is usually led by clueless people.

His new book, Advertising for Skeptics, is a must-read and makes excellent points about advertising and marketing. Among his quotes from the book:

-Brand building efforts yield soft measures: Even if you’re doing a great job of brand building, how do you prove it to accountants? Indications of brand strength are not the measures that impress CFOs or Boards.

-Social media is very hard work. Very few social media programs have anything resembling a significant sales impact. Any marketers who believe they’re having a conversation on Facebook are delusional

-The idea that consumers want to interact with brand content is the grand delusion of the social media set. They think because athletes, movie stars, and pop singers have millions of followers people are interested in engaging with pencil, mayonnaise and paper towel sellers.

His worst criticism is targeted at online advertising.

-By most measures only about 50% of traffic on the web is human. The scale of the fraud we found is jaw-dropping. The industry continues to waste marketing budgets on what is essentially organized crime.”

-For several years the advertising industry has been engaged in a conspiracy to deceive its clients and the public about online advertising.

-The ad industry has allowed itself to crawl into bed with the weasels at Facebook, Google and the rest of the devious adtech squids. It makes us look like fools. Every week there are alarming reports of fraud, corruption, privacy abuse, and security failures in online media and we shrug our shoulders and duck for cover.

-Display ads are usually reported to have an overall click rate of about five clicks in ten thousand ads served. If you want to know why the web is so appallingly littered with ads, it’s because to get five clicks you have to run 10,000 ads.

-If that’s not bad enough, 60% of the clicks are reported to be mistakes. You are more likely to complete Navy Seal training than click on a banner ad. According to research company Lumen only 9% of banner ads are even noticed for a second.

-Science now believes about 96% of the universe is “dark matter” and “dark energy.” Which is another way of saying we have no clue what the hell it is.

Mr. Hoffman should not be writing books; he should be in a senior executive position at an agency to bring them credibility immediately. When I look back at all the meetings I had with clients who went hours over adjectives in a creative brief, I realized that Mr. Hoffman is truly an insightful person. Top business schools should be trying to hire him to lecture to MBA students who believe that marketing is data-driven…

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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