How effective is \'trendy\' digital marketing?

S M Didarul Hasan | Wednesday, 18 January 2017

What is digital marketing? "Achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies and media is called digital marketing." This is probably the simplest form of definition of digital marketing by Dave Chaffey.  
Digital marketing (social media marketing, blogging, email marketing, SEO, SEM, content marketing, e-commerce, m-commerce etc.) is the buzzword to business and marketing fraternity. This word attracts people like anything. Spending in social media channels or writing funky designation explanations or descriptors (like, digital strategist, digital geek, digital marketer, digital and social marketing evangelist etc.) has become a trend. Marketers feel happy and brag off while doing either of the jobs. But most of them carry out digital marketing like social media marketing.
The reality is, 83 per cent of consumers reported that they have had a 'bad experience with social media marketing' (source: webbiquity.com). To this writer and to some marketers, marketing has never changed; it is always about knowing customers, finding and designing the right products for them - and then segmenting marketing channels to reach the right audience. That may be digital; that may be print and it may be a combination of both. Or that may be face-to-face. Marketing budget should be focused on objectives and outcomes we want, not separated into specific channels. And if we get back to the marketing basics, we should drive our business based on real customer needs and not what is trendy.
For a decade or more, so-called industry analysts and gurus are crying, 'TV is dead'. If they were right, television was supposed to be dead by now. Actually changes in consumer behaviour are over-stated; TV is a major medium across regions and continents. According to Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey Q1 2015 versus Q1 2013, there were almost no change or 1 per cent plus/minus change is observed in ads of TV, print media and magazine. Ads on online video channels, social networks and mobile devices are slightly decreasing. In Bangladesh, in a tea category consumer survey, we have found at least 84 per cent of the consumers are exposed to TV. So, where should we spend money? The answer is 'TV' and other traditional media.
Decades back, there was a much ado centering PR. People were saying advertising will die and public relations will rise. Al Ries and Laura Ries tried to ride on the brand-wagon and wrote a book titled 'The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR' in 2002. What do we see now? Is advertising dead yet?
In reality, the more we are Facebook marketers the less we are digital marketers. We mostly focus on Facebook while thinking of digital; that is one big mistake actually we do every day. Facebook is also maneuvering with its different statistics. In the Digital Marketing Summit 2016, Fergus O'Hare, Director of Facebook Creative Shop for APAC, Facebook was prosecuting about all video contents and specially Facebook videos. While discussing power of video, at Le Meridien Hotel, he mentioned a 60-second video is equal to 1.8 million words, a 3-second video is equal to 90 thousand words; a 3-second is equal to reading a book etc. Actually the point is, Facebook is trying to sell its video ads platform. Fergus O'Hare interestingly was urging to unlearn 100 years of advertising learning and inspiring to learn new things which is very correct for progressive marketing managers. At the same time, it is true that the fundamentals of 100 years of advertising have little been changed; the basics of advertising and marketing are always there and will be. Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief of WPP, a British multinational advertising and public relations company, has nullified Facebook's claim, in October this year, mentioning Facebook's effectiveness claim is erroneous and extravagant.
The top three social networks used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn (91 per cent); Twitter (85 per cent) and Facebook (81 per cent). However, just 62 per cent of marketers say that LinkedIn is effective, while 50 per cent say the same for Twitter and only 30 per cent of B2B marketers view Facebook as effective (Source: CMO Council).
DIGITAL MARKETING CHANNELS: Facebook rolled out its ad products in late 2007. The platform, in its initial years, was fairly open providing organic reach to its advertisers but as the user-base became strong, Facebook tweaked its advertising and monetisation strategy, tightening the rope around the organic reach of brand posts. This writer has been trying to develop and manage two Facebook pages for last 6 months. Initially he noticed Facebook did not push or allow posts to anybody. His objective was very clear before starting promoting those he wanted to get scroll-history for those. Now from last month he has been noticing it is reaching some people roughly 10/12. Why and how? It's may be due to the page-fans because in 6 months' journey we have sent requests to some of our colleagues and friends to like those pages. What he is trying to say is this: Facebook hardly allows opportunity for organic reach nowadays. On the other hand, Facebook video advertising and 3-second view counts have been a debatable topic to the marketing fraternity around the world. "The specific error Facebook made was in its 'average duration of video viewed' measure. Up until last month, Facebook calculated this number by dividing the total minutes a video had been watched by the total number of viewers. The problem with that approach is that Facebook only counts a view when three seconds or more of time have elapsed - roughly the time period it would take to scroll through a video without actually processing it - but it was counting every single second of exposure from all users. Millions of users who did not make it to the third second of the video weren't included in the calculation, but their billions of scrolling seconds were. The end result was a metric that was over-stated by up to 80 per cent for the past two years" (www.marketing week.com, by Mark Ritson on 26 Sep 2016).
Not only this, another point was that advertisers would be able to run a free Facebook page and their 'fans' would just flock to it, share it with their friends, who would then share it with their friends in an outbreak of everyday viral serendipity. Now Facebook offers traditional and paid display advertising with big fat ads in the middle of the page. It's not social media as we were led to believe social media would evolve.
YouTube remains the world's largest online video site, but its supremacy is under threat from numerous other sites, social networks and publishers that are targeting a bigger share of the online video market.
Facebook's focus on video marketing formats is more recent, but brands such Samsung have published case studies on the Facebook for Business website reporting strong return on investment from Facebook videos, albeit bound up with responses from other ad formats on the social networks. But a lot of other brands did not get expected return on advertising investment. Graham Mudd, Facebook's director of ad product marketing, suggests that social networking has increasingly become the forum for people to share and view video content. The company believes this trend, combined with its wealth of user data, makes it an increasingly attractive proposition to video advertisers.
Sir Martin Sorrell, the boss of a British multinational advertising and public relations company, mentions in an interview that there is still a lot of work to be done before social catches up to the power of search. "Facebook can't really claim that a three-second view when 50 per cent of the time the sound is off is the same as a 15-second, a 30-second, a 60-second TV ad or someone reading The Times for 40 minutes," he said. He interestingly said Facebook's recent error in viewability status is actually 'good' because it focuses clients', media buyers' and the media's attention on the issue.
Recently in a report in a UK publication Leonie Roderick on August 10, 2016, wrote, "P&G is shifting its marketing spend away from Facebook advertising that targets specific groups of consumers after finding it did not always lead to the expected sales boost." In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Marc Pritchard, P&G's chief brand officer, said the company took the strategy too far. He said, "We targeted too much, and we went too narrow. And now we're looking at what is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision". Important points here to be noted are reach and precision.
Having experienced annual sales dropped by 8 per cent, P&G is going back to basics. Chief executive David Taylor said that in order to 'restart' revenue growth the company needs to 'get back to making consumers aware of its products and communicating their benefits'. The P&G approach is refreshingly old school. The plan is for reach among broadly defined segments with the aim of boosting sales. For a mass market brand like P&G, getting in front of as many consumers as possible is the key. It needs to drive trial and consideration, so that when people are standing in a supermarket deciding on which toothpaste brand to buy, they pick a P&G brand, mentions a report.
On the other hand, the adage.com reported, "Unilever finds social media buzz really does drive sales." Positive mentions in social media have been proved to drive sales of Unilever brands, according to Shawn O'Neal, VP, global people data and marketing analytics for the company. "That finding, delivered in a talk at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Measurement Conference in Miami, may seem unsurprising to many people. But it's a particularly interesting finding given some context. Mr. O'Neal's boss is Stan Sthanunathan, senior VP of consumer and market insights at Unilever, who headed global market research at Coca-Cola in 2013 when a research team from that company reached a very different conclusion. Coke researchers discussed a study at the Advertising Research Foundation Re:Think Conference in 2013 finding online buzz had no measurable impact on short-term sales" (Source: adage.com by Jack Neff. Published on September 18, 2015).
The writer is Manager, Brand Marketing, M. M. Ispahani Limited.
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