Where did you loose 50% of your ad budget?

Marketing.fm wants to revise a famous quote by John Wanamaker:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half. -John Wanamaker, US department store merchant (1838 – 1922)

I know the quote, of course, as I suppose everyone in advertising does. But I didn’t know it was of someone as unknown as this chap. On the contrary, I was almost tempted to assign the quote to Mark Twain, purely because lately if feels like most thoughtful quotes come from Mark Twain, as if he is some sort of a quote-goat anytime people don’t know the real source.

In the same blog post, they write:

The advent of interactive media and online measurement has allowed marketers to target advertising messages much more precisely. Morover, it is possible to access comprehensive data on the viewers of your campagin: page views, geographic location, clicks, links, etc.
Is it time that we revised the 50/50 Wanamaker quote? Should it be more like 70/30 now?

I ain’t sure that the hard measurements that the web provides, should redefine investments alone. This might sound strange coming from someone working in digital marketing. But if you think about it: applying these measurements, you de-value the web to a purely interactional medium (which it is, most of the time, admittingly). However, by that you omitt all the effects of the contacts people have with your brand that cannot be exactly measured:

  • The impression an ad made with that one page view, even if the user didn’t click on it.
  • time spent interacting with the ad piece all together
  • triggered purchase consideration, fulfilled in brick&mortar store

Online Advertising can be measured and therefore it should be. Always.
But we should not forget, that there are so called key performance indicators that can help us understand the effect of advertising, and that can’t be measured by interaction, but purely by qualitative research. Asking the target audience about their perception of the brand, the channel interaction, etc.
Classical Advertising has been working with this kind of research all the time. And while it never helped to solve the puzzle of where the 50% of investments „got lost“, I think, purely relying on data measured through interaction, will not help either. It sounds more like a quick fix of Marketeers trying to answer tough questions by providing hard results – irrespectively of context.



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