Recently a fellow digital specialist proposed a hypothetical question; ‘if display advertising disappeared tomorrow, how would digital marketers spend that portion of their budget?’.
A very interesting question indeed – and I take a strong view.
The idea that we are still even considering digital display as part of our client’s digital advertising media buy is crazy to me. With historically low impression rates and clicks, plus the pervasiveness of click fraud and continued increase in the use of ad blockers, I cannot see any reason why brands would want to engage in this type of media.
Why are agencies proposing this spend to their clients? The cost of creative, planning, account service, production, testing and reporting all contribute to a high cost of delivery while the results to the client are often underwhelming to say the least.
The answer, it seems, is a combination of a lack of knowledge on the part of the client as to alternatives and the willingness of agencies to pad their bottom lines.
But rather than just being negative, let’s look at the answer the question more directly.
For me, client need to invest in a proper strategy. Understand where they want to be in 12-24 months, then reverse engineer how to get there. The output is a calendar of activities that are designed to achieve specific objectives outlined in the strategy. This needs to be done with all key stakeholders in mind, internal and external to the business to achieve real, lasting value.
But I’ll go a step further and say that agencies need to start taking a more active role with their clients; looking to the future of their offering and understand that a natural extension of marketing strategy is business strategy.
Agencies are starting to focus on CX (Customer Experience) as part of their core offerings. This is a positive step, but it is still focussing primarily of the forward-facing aspects of a business. What about the warehousing, fulfilment, logistics, support, accounting and other internal stakeholders who have just as much to gain or lose from sales, marketing and business operations?
So, to answer the question – I would invest in a complete strategy before spending a penny on anything else. You won’t be able to solve everything immediately, but developing a plan on where you want to be and building both internal and external strategies on how to get there will ultimately lead to more sales and revenue, lower costs, better ROI numbers and ultimately happier customers.