This week’s blog is once againm shamelessly stealing from a recent Cog Blog all about how it’s rather fun to watch today’s experts repurpose, re-polish and resurrect ideas from the past – even those that failed the first time around. I worked with Brian Jacobs, who writes the Cog Blog, for many years in advertising, when we were both at Leo Burnett, and we share a lot of the same opinions about some of the rubbish spouted out there about advertising and marketing. We’re both long enough in the tooth to have heard most of it before. And we do both like a rant.
As Brian asks, quite sensibly in my view, why don’t those heading up the giant adtech and platform businesses listen more to those who understand how consumers think and behave when it comes to their consumption of advertising messages?
Let’s talk about social media for a moment (oh, please let’s not, I hear many of you sigh….). Nowadays, if you know something, it’s not enough just to know it, you have to broadcast the fact that you know it on social media. Unless and until you do that, you may as well not have gone to the trouble of knowing it in the first place. Then you gather hundreds or thousands of comments from those praising you for thinking of something that if truth be told has been known for an age. For many people though, this really is the way you build your reputation. It’s how you sustain yourself, how you know you have a professional life. As Brian readily admits in his original article, this may sound un-necessarily bitchy – but there is a serious point to be made.
If you look around the industry you see people doing things that experience tells you won’t end well.
Take personalised advertising (as the old joke goes, please do). The sales story is easy: consumers like to see ads that are relevant. The data we have on who’s consuming media forms can now be taken to the n’th degree of granularity. So let’s offer up smaller and smaller audiences and thus personalise the messages they see. There is such an obvious flaw in this that it’s embarrassing to point it out. Yes, absolutely consumers like to see ads that are relevant. This means the content has to be relevant. The timing has to be relevant. The whole point of personalisation is around the creative. Not the media plan.
And yet the likes of LinkedIn is full of people who it seems have only just worked this out. ‘Personalisation is all about personalising the message…’ ‘You need to look beyond the media reach amongst an ever-more segmented audience to the nature of the message’. Duh.
Those who lead and those who advise the tech companies and the giant platforms should listen not only to the accountants and the management consultancies but also to those who’ve built successful careers understanding, and communicating effectively with consumers.
Learn from the mistakes of others – they’re all around us.