The Quick hits of digital advertisements

businesspeople engaged in tug-o-war|two businessmen engaged in tug-o-war

A recent article from The Correspondent, written by Jesse Frederick and Maurits Martijn has captured the attention of brand marketers, and for good reason. It is titled, “The new dot com bubble is here; it’s called online advertising,” and the writers do an outstanding job of calling into question the reliability of how effectiveness is measured in the booming area of digital advertising. Read the full article here.

We wrote recently about this ongoing rivalry between data and creative in an article post titled: “The Trouble With Rivalries”. Frederick and Martijn also write about the shift away from madmen to math men, and ask the reader to do a close examination of the online ad world, taking on what has been a fundamental question about advertising itself: are we truly reaching and persuading new customers, or in effect preaching to the already-loyal choir?

batlle of sodas

This is not a new question, though this inquiry into the holes in online measurement is overdue and effective. As consultants who help brands understand the creative itself, this piece makes a case for an even stronger focus on understanding how the brand’s creative is working and the source of its power. 

It is not wasteful for a brand to reach those who are already in the category, or even already a customer, despite the need to also bring new people into the fold. Great advertising can move those who are already in the market in a particular category to choose your brand. Even if they already were going to choose your brand, powerful messaging is always an opportunity to create a stronger connection to the brand and help the customer find comfort in having made the best choice. This is especially important when it comes to big-ticket items where a lot of emotions are involved. We talk a great deal today about the unconscious levers of the System 1 mind, but we must not forget that the rational mind craves order and, frankly, wants to be right. Brand advertising can offer a great assist in that regard.

What has happened in the online advertising space is that too many brands have moved away from consistent and strong creative, exchanging it for the quick hit of clicks and leaving brand-building advertising behind.

Focus on the creative for digital has been dialed down in many cases, leaving brand meaning fragmented and weakened. This has created a self-fulfilling prophecy of brands indulging in a game of whack-a-mole, with digital creative popping up begging to get a hit, and all the focus on intrusion. This is going on even as the same brands acknowledge that interruption is a flawed strategy.

Of course, there is always a need to increase the base of customers, and the writers are calling much-needed attention to what online metrics are actually measuring and it is worth every second of the article’s length. Advertising will never work for those who are not interested at all. Smart brands have always understood that they cannot move everyone. But they continue because they can move some and be smarter about who the brand is actually talking to is important.

Brands must dial-up their understanding of their creative, even as they build better ways to deliver it in the digital world. Creativity will always rule when it comes to connecting with current and potential customers. Research consultants who can help brands unpack where the power lies in their creative are an integral partner to driving a saner and more profitable advertising strategy.


Key Takeaways

  • The measurement of online marketing’s effectiveness is flawed and could be better.  The industry needs a stronger focus on better understanding the effectiveness of a brand’s creative.  
  • Focus on creative in the digital world has been dialed down in exchange for quick hits rather than deeper advertising that helps build a brand’s audience and recognition.
  • Increasing understanding of the effectiveness of creativity in branding can help brands connect to more customers (both current and potential) and build better ways to deliver marketing in the digital world.