Archives for posts with tag: traditional advertising


I had coffee with the Creative Director of a prestigious agency. He just switched from digital to traditional, shooting TV commercials. He shared his newest commercial, a very creative work of art, destined to win awards. I asked him about his experience in the traditional advertising world: “I love it. Nobody nickels and dimes you to death. I used to have to fight for every penny in the digital agency, nobody questions budgets in the traditional world.”

While the digital media world is busy to get more efficient and cheaper, TV is celebrating a double digit increase in spending. TV commercial crews are busy re-shooting small parts of a commercial for $100k or so while digital folks spend sleepless sites for $20k with a profit margin of $0.02. And when you watch TV in the evening, you look longingly at the amazing production value of commercials while some crappy display ads hurt your eyes.

Don’t blame TV. Blame yourself.

Our approach to marketing and communicating the digital web was wrong right from the start: Cheaper. More efficient. Measurable.

We appealed to the left brain, to the penny pincher mindset. We’re not as sexy as TV but we are so much more cheaper. Our banner ad pales compared to a commercial but it’s so much more efficient. Nobody really sees banner ads but we can target your second cousin in Des Moines. Remember when people said “Social Media is for free?” Free never communicates value. (And it was never free, was it?)

Isn’t it fascinating?

The digital revolution has started to transform whole industries (ask music labels) and it’s already transforming how we connect with the world, changed our daily habits, the way we think. And, we’re just at the beginning of this revolution. Whole industries will disappear, replaced by innovative services and products. At the same time, the digital marketing world feels like a torn Valpak with discolored flyers full of misspellings.

We need to bring digital sexy back.

As infographics have shown us, data can be sexy. We need to communicate the sexiness of our insights better to our clients and internally. We have to focus more on value of digital communication and less on the cost-cutting promise. We need to give Creative Directors the freedom to produce more than just 300×250 ads and landing pages with a budget less than the catering for a one-day TV shoot. We have to focus on the long-term future of digital marketing and not the incremental changes of a DSP or Behavioral Targeting. We have to get excited again about the revolutionary changes we’re experiencing, the transformative nature of the digital lifestyle.

We need more passion in this space. Or we’ll never feel the love.


Image: Courtesy of Todayandtomorrow

Segmentation, behavioral targeting, retargeting, data exchanges: The opportunities to deliver “relevant” advertising to people are endless. As a digital marketer, you have so many choices ‘targeting’ your audience and delivering ‘relevant’ messages. And, what’s the result?

“Against all odds, traditional advertising is perceived by consumers as more informative, entertaining and necessary than online advertising. Of more than 1,200 people surveyed for digital marketing show ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 69 percent believed traditional advertising was relevant to them, compared with 45 percent for online. For the TV target audience—those aged between 25-34-years old—the gap widens further: 81 percent (traditional) vs. 53 percent (online).

Worse still for digital marketers, annoyance around advertising on the Web is twice as high online as offline. Comments made were that digital advertising is “ill-structured,” “mainly irrelevant” and represents a bigger, unwanted distraction for the consumer, rather than a subtle influence.

Typical comments included: “Traditional advertising is less in your face – online seems to use all kinds of annoying tricks to make you view them, eg popups and blank screen links you click by accident. It’s an immediate turn-off.”

As the article asks: Why is this happening?

And, their answer is:

“ad:tech conference and marketing director, Christophe Asselin, says that customers aren’t responding positively the way that the industry believes. “While we are witnessing some amazing online campaigns out there, this research simply shows that the overall advertising and marketing community isn’t hitting the mark with online users.

“Customers are becoming more and more savvy to online marketing tactics and are less forgiving toward sloppy and clumsy practices mainly adapted from the old mass media communication model. Just because online is cheaper and quicker to implement, doesn’t mean you can afford to throw away its huge potential,” added Asselin.”

What happened? (Not sure if people were just asked about display advertising. If the survey includes SEM, this is even worse than anybody could have ever imagined.) Is it the abundance of online inventory? Sites plastered with display ads and text links, resembling more a weekend in a cheap tattoo parlor than a serious publication? Limited creativity packed into tiny pixel boxes? Failed integration between traditional and digital agencies/divisions? Measly budgets for creative executions? Focus on media placements first and then allowing the creative department to play in their limited sandbox? Applying lean-backward tactics to a lean-forward medium? Broadcast mentality in a narrowcast world?

I don’t have an answer. I said for a long time the effectiveness of online marketing is rapidly declining. Bright, shiny objects often let us forget that the traditional digital tools don’t work that well anymore. Or not at all. All I know is, we need to start thinking outside of the 728×90 box. Outside of quick fixes (Facebook page, anyone?) If the digital marketing industry desires continual growth, we better see these survey results as a big wake-up call.

Are we going to consider this as a big reset for the industry or just another study to yawn about? That’s the $368 billion dollar question.


Image: Courtesy of

I’ve seen TV commercials that made me laugh. The majority of radio commercials annoy me. Some print ads are rather interesting, most of them purely forgettable. The range of emotions when experiencing “traditional” advertising ranges from highly entertained/intrigued to annoyed. I was never angry a TV commercial interrupted my show, maybe annoyed, but not angry.

The range of emotions when experiencing “digital” marketing ranges from barely entertained to angry. Angry at the pop-ups, the take-overs, the obnoxiousness of advertisers to push their message right in front of my face.

Why is there such a huge difference in emotions between “traditional” and “digital” marketing?

Two reasons:

1) We have a contract with traditional media: You serve us ads and the content will be free/dramatically reduced in price. Sure, we try to do our best to get out of that contract (DVR, radio podcasts) but in general we’re fairly happy with the partnership.

No such contract exists between us and digital media. We don’t see ads underwriting anything. Does an ad on Facebook make the site better? Nope, it cheapens my experience. Does an ad on Yahoo’s homepage improve their content? Not that I know of, it just makes me want to leave the homepage as soon as possible. Marketers haven’t found an airtight value proposition for consumers to see ads as an underwriting proposition. Every time a brand serves up an ad, it reminds us that there’s no contract. No relationship, no reason not to get angry.

(And, most of the web ads are intended to be clicked, turning Digital Marketing into a whining and begging contest, turning even more people off.)

2) TV, Radio and Print are entertainment channels. Sure, there’s some educational and informational content but we use these channels to entertain us.

Digital is an entertainment channel. And an information channel. Most importantly, digital is a communication channel. Depending on your tasks at hand, the definition of digital as a channel changes by the minute for each of us. While my visit to might be my kind of entertainment (sad, I know), others are looking for information on the same site or want to communicate with other readers about a common topic. The reception changes dramatically in whatever mode I am:

– Information Seeking: Don’t even try to serve me an ad. I don’t want to see and hear it. I’m focused on my own information needs. Your intrusion makes my task at hand harder to accomplish.

– Communicating: Don’t you know the two of us are talking? Why do you have to bother us in the middle of a conversation? What do I have to do to get you out of my world?

– Ready to be entertained: What you got? Something funny? Something interesting? I’m watching a show/video but I don’t mind discovering something better.

Search Engine Marketing continues to be successful because it answered the need for information with relevant results. Banner advertising never took off because the Web is a hybrid channel and we have to guess constantly what mode people are in. Inserting messages into a communication and information environment doesn’t work. So far, it only works in an entertainment environment.

If digital marketing will ever grow up, it needs to develop a mutually beneficial contract and find new ways to message to people when they want to be informed and/or communicate. That’s why companies like Facebook and Twitter should take a step back and reconsider their advertising models. Applying a broken digital advertising model to a new platform still equals apathy, non-performance and angry people.

When you’ve figured out a way to shift digital advertising emotions to the range of traditional advertising,  please let me know. I’ll bet my house on you.