I feel like 2016 was the year everyone became a little disheartened with the marketing industry (globally) - this happened due to the increased number of industry challenges, such as adblocking, transparency, measurement, to name a few.
Each of these challenges you can attribute to companies acting with self-interest and not pulling in the right direction for the industry’s investors (marketers). Some of these self-interests have gotten to a point where they are so big that they are hard to correct.
Broadly there are three approaches to dealing with a challenge: bury your head in the sand; point fingers; or take responsibility. We’re in a position now where everyone should be taking responsibility for creating a sustainable and buoyant marketing ecosystem before the effects are too large. Sounds sensationalist? Adblocking, fraud and fake news being monetized need only be a reminder of how our industry could fall flat on it’s face if we don’t take a stance in 2017.
First, let's identify the challenges. I have selected these based on three factors: prominence of discussion in 2016; industry experts I have spoken with; and my own personal thoughts. These have not been ranked by size of the challenge as I think that’s subjective based on which area of the industry you operate within.
• Total impact of all marketing is misunderstood by brands
• Remuneration models too focused on price as opposed to value
• Talent shortage across all levels
• Inability to build and execute a single-customer-view across all channels
• Lack of transparency in the supply chain
• Major short-termism in decision making across every industry function
Great, so they are the challenges, what are the consequences of not solving these?
• Rise of the publicly-listed duopoly (Google and Facebook) due to accountability of their ‘channels’ and domination of eyeballs
• High volume of poor placements and formats
• Users blocking ads and opting out of brand communications
• Ad fraud – aka bot traffic, non-human traffic, etc – being reimbursed
• Creation of fake content/news which advertisers inadvertently fund
• Companies gaming a flawed attribution system, not necessarily delivering value
• Inability to invest in junior talent while other industries do accommodate them
• Not delivering optimal returns for marketers
Inevitably different companies will feel the force of these consequences in different ways and it’s important to recognize that these challenges are not solvable overnight. Below I have listed my suggestions on how to overcome these.
Suggestions on how to overcome these
• Data and interpretation becomes the true differentiator
• Total transparency in the supply chain
• Move away from last-click/view for digital/mobile and TVR for TV and move towards holistic data-driven measurement cross-channel
• Reduce the number of ad spots across all channels but increase the premium
• Every single opportunity to serve something (paid, earned or owned) should be programmatically enabled through centralized buying portals
• Better remuneration models for companies based on value
• Better graduate recruitment (pre-first job) and far more internship programs
Given it’s the start of the year and we all should be feeling refreshed, we should all be asking ourselves how we can do this in our own roles. We are fortunate to work in an amazing and dynamic industry, but for it to stay that way there are some wholesale corrections and changes we need to make to enable sustainability. It’s our collective responsibility to make the industry better so that marketers can continue to safely invest into it and so that consumers get better marketing-funded experiences and services that add value to their lives.
Wayne Blodwell is CEO of The Programmatic Advisory