Monthly Archives: September 2014

Ready – Fire – Aim

Yet another piece of research that caused an eyebrow to rise up bubbled up in my news stream yesterday.  This one is from the Ascend2 folks via MarketingProfs and concerns strategy in digital marketing.  Two thirds of the marketers survey think they’re doing an OK job with another quarter believing they are doing a great job.  It’s what they identified as challenges that piqued my interest and which is our topic today:

Marketers say a lack of effective strategies is the biggest obstacle to success in digital marketing… More than half of marketers surveyed (51%) cited strategy issues when asked to list the major factors preventing them from fully achieving their digital marketing goals. Budget constraints were the second most cited obstacle (picked by 38% of respondents); lack of training/experience was next (32%), followed by inability to prove ROI (30%), and useless metrics/analytics (25%).

Budget is an issue for everyone it seems no matter what your company or role.  Given the constantly changing set of tools, I can understand the lack of training.  The other items on the list are more concerning.  First and of greatest concern is that over half feel they lack a strategy that works and yet they seem to be executing anyway.  That’s firing without aiming.  This finding doesn’t really shock me given experiences I have had with clients.  There is an appetite to jump into new spaces without giving much thought as to why or how.  What’s of interest as well is what happens when marketers are asked about what does seem to be effective:

Some 54% of respondents rate email as one of their most successful digital marketing tactics; 48% rate websites as a top tactic; 47% search engine optimization; 43% social media. Email is also seen as a relatively easy digital marketing tactic to execute, with only 11% of respondents rating it as one of the most difficult channels.

No surprise – email is well understood by most companies since it’s been around for a long time.  It’s also in wide enough use that one can benchmark and learn from the mistakes of others.  Much easier to aim before firing, right?

“Why” needs to come before “how”.  Aiming needs to come before firing.  After all, no brand has that many chances with consumers and if you can’t hit the mark the first time there might not be a second.  You agree?


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Filed under Consulting, digital media

You Sowed It – Now Reap!

If you’re in the business of marketing, the latest report from the Adobe folks ought to scare the heck out of you.  It their 2014 Adblocking Report and the findings are neither welcome nor unsurprising.  In 17 slides the document raises questions about why any marketer that wants to reach a young, tech-savvy audience would bother to invest in digital ads.  Let me explain.

There are 144 million active ad blockers installed around the world.  That’s a smallish percentage of the total web usage base but among certain segments the number has reached critical mass.  27% of US web users report using ad blocking software and among 18-29 year olds the number rises to 41%.  The software is mostly installed on the Chrome browser as well as other user-installed browsers.  One would think that those who don’t use the pre-installed big 2 – Internet Explorer and Safari – are probably more technically literate and I’m guessing they are a desirable audience.

Why do people install ad blockers?  Nearly half say they just don’t want to see ads but a third of folks are open to seeing ads, just not in the obnoxious and intrusive ways many sites display them.  Another big reason is a concern about privacy. In fact, this sums it up quite nicely:

The majority of adblock users do not object to advertising in principle. They are acting out against a number of ad formats that make it harder for them to access content. Many adblock users also cite practical or privacy reasons for adopting adblock. There is an opportunity to acknowledge all these concerns with advertising that respects the user’s privacy and hard-earned attention.


In other words, why is the ad world so dead set against opt-in ads?  We tend to take privacy concerns for granted and now it’s coming back to haunt us.  We believe people so want our content that they’ll sit through a 60 second video to watch a 15 second clip.  We pop things up, under, and over.

We’re reaping what we’ve sown.  As a marketing community we cannot escape the consequences of our actions. Maybe it’s time to have another think about how we monetize content before this sort of software moves to mobile, which is where the audience is heading.  Thoughts?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Reality checks

Food For Thought

The folks at Eater provide our food for thought on this Foodie Friday.  They ran an interesting piece on 72 ways food can change the world.  It’s a collection of brief articles from chefs, farmers, scientists, and others.  It’s worth your time.

One piece that got me thinking was an interview with a food scientist from Washington State University.  This quote, in particular about working outside of the mainstream commodity system, resonated:

If you had a big truck with twenty tons of wheat and went to the grain elevator they would look at the stuff we work with and say, “That’s purple, that’s a different shape, and that doesn’t work for the commodity systems,” which are built on the notion of a huge amount of virtually identical, interchangeable product. By focusing on non-commodity varieties, we can pay attention to things like nutritional value and flavor—things that that big commodity farmers and programs tend to not care about. For them all that matters is yield.

There’s a great business point in there for all of us. The farmers with whom the professor works think about the game differently.  Rather than allowing the vagaries of the market to dictate their product they bypass the large, proven markets and focus on aggregating niche markets.  They control their product and find buyers as opposed to bowing down before the commodity system.  This gives them the freedom to improve the product – grain in this case – since they are not growing to product specifications imposed on them.

Over time, one or more of those niche markets may, in fact, become mainstream.  In other markets we might call them “early adopters.”  It’s not hard to remember when a high-definition television, a tablet computer, or a hybrid car were niches.  The “farmers” behind them didn’t try to make a mass-market product out of the gate.  They made something better knowing that if it was good enough the market would come to them.

Food for thought!

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Filed under Consulting, food