26 March 2018

Don't give up on online marketing

In defence of online marketing – let’s not give up just yet


Despite endless features heralding the end of digital marketing, Hypetap co-CEO Detch Singh believes it's not time to give up, but it might be time to adapt.


It’s a classic case of fear-mongering by those with vested interests: first, big global brands reevaluate annual marketing strategies and remove spend from ineffective and potentially damaging digital channels (and in some cases, rightfully so).


Then everyone starts pointing fingers at the entire digital marketing industry, deeming it ‘not brand safe.’

Let me preface this by stating, for the record I am in no way discounting the brand safety, transparency, and fraud issues plaguing parts of the digital marketing industry. It’s no secret that the programmatic space has been murky, and recent digital spending cuts aren’t so much a catalyst, but rather an effect of ongoing shortcomings in the space. We as digital marketers need to hold ourselves more accountable by putting appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure we’re delivering authentic, transparent results for our clients.


But by calling the entire digital marketing industry ‘not brand safe,’ ‘untrustworthy’ or ‘invulnerable to facts,’ we are putting a blanket statement on what digital marketing is, and frankly, doing a disservice to our clients.


Let’s not forget that there is a reason brands started looking at digital in the first place: it’s where the audience is. Maybe there’s been a rejuvenation in other advertising channels, which I hope is true, because diversity in media is critical to the ongoing success of the industry as a whole.


However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the world is still online. We haven’t stopped notifying our friends about our lives on social media, Phrases like ‘Google it’ and ‘Netflix and Chill’ have become ingrained in our society, and research indicates Aussie online shopping is on the rise (surprise, surprise!).


Facebook’s daily active users in December 2017 hit 1.4 billion, a 14 percent increase year-on-year, and Instagram isn’t far behind with 500 million daily active users as of September 2017. In short, many brands can’t afford to eliminate digital advertising entirely from the marketing mix.


The important thing to remember is that algorithmically-placed advertisements are not synonymous with digital marketing. Beyond programmatic, you can still invest in search engine optimisation, native blog and social content, and influencer marketing.


And the truth is, if you partner with the right digital marketing providers who are open about brand safety precautions and provide transparent auditing and reporting services throughout campaigns, then digital advertising can actually be one of the most brand-safe media channels.


The question then arises: how can you guarantee your brand will be protected with digital advertisements? The same way you guarantee your advertisements will be brand safe on television, or in an out-of-home medium.


Many of us have come across two adjacent outdoor billboard advertisements that comically, and controversially, contradict each other. This doesn’t mean that the entire out-of-home industry should be condemned as risky. It just means that more precautionary action should have been taken ahead of time to ensure both billboards were placed in a safe, and uncontroversial setting.


While the change absolutely lies with us as digital marketers to put these precautions in place, brands need to do due diligence before every campaign. Assess the ins and outs of each marketing channel being considered, find out which media will deliver the most successful and safe results for each campaign, and don’t be afraid to question any partner or channel that is performing below expectations.


We’re not facing the downfall of digital marketing — we’re instead facing the downfall of unacceptable digital campaign providers, and the rise of more authentic, transparent, and brand safe digital practices.


By Detch Singh