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Digital: Fool’s Gold for Marketers

What if digital was fool’s gold for marketers? Sold a dream that would never live up to the expectations of the sustainable medium they were promised. Print holds its place in the marketing mix today, more than ever before, as a credible and verifiable medium against its digital competitors. Have marketers gone too far too quick? How are established medias out-performing?

It’s no secret that digital marketing has exploded into every marketer’s toolbox, however by Google’s own admission, 56% of digital ads served are never seen, and if they are seen, the average dwell time for a digital ad is just 0.9 seconds. Consumers aren’t viewing digital ads and are working out ways to avoid and ignore them. It’s time for marketers to revisit their digital ad spend firstly to work out the overall impact of digital advertising and understand why print advertising is critical in gaining reach.

The digital ad crisis of 2017 for Google and YouTube’s has been well documented. Global debate sparked about the safety of online marketing after London based Times newspaper reported ads were running alongside YouTube videos that promoted terrorism. The Google incident saw their biggest marketers AT&T and Johnson & Johnson stop spending on YouTube advertising, reportedly costing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business. From this scare, marketers were forced to rethink their online marketing strategies while brand positioning was being challenged as ads began popping up in the dark corners of the internet.

With this ongoing debate of the unpredictability of digital, one of the world’s biggest advertising investors Procter & Gamble (P&G) put it to the test by cutting out $200 million of digital ad spend throughout 2017. Chief Marketing Officer, P&G, Marc Pritchard revealed the cuts eliminated 20 percent of its ineffective marketing and increased its reach by 10 percent. This shows a clear indication that digital ad spend can be excessive and wasteful as it’s not gaining optimal reach – one of the big dreams marketers were sold on. This is supported in the 2017 Toluna survey revealing that 76% of New Zealanders don’t pay attention to online advertisements. Marketers need to ensure they aren’t wasting their precious marketing dollars on effective advertising, rather invest in channels that deliver results.

The argument isn’t digital doesn’t have a place in the marketing mix, however do we know what role it has? Its strengths lie in the ability to offer easily accessible information and assist with quick transactions. However, when a brand is looking to shift consumer thinking, gain brand equity and have an extensive audience reach, print marketing is delivering the best results. The recent scandal seeing Facebook lose trust with the breach of leaking personal data is reinforcing print as the most trustworthy and credible channel as cracks start to shatter the digital dream. Facebook used print to ‘apologise’ to their users showing that they knew about the trust factor of print and used it to their advantage.

Not only do consumers trust print, it also delivers results. Established medias produce proven media currencies including engagement. Not-for-profit organisation ‘It’s Not OK’ teamed up with NZ Home – a magazine that presents flawless architectural interiors – to utilise the features of print to address the terrifying subject of domestic violence. Traces of domestic violence such as a smashed vase and blood stains were evident throughout the pages in the magazine. As the pages went on, the more disjointed the house became displaying hidden telling of abuse. It was a dark message that was delivered successfully with the results showing 25% of the New Zealand population were sparked to have a conversation about the issue in just one week. ‘It’s Not OK’ leveraged print, in this case NZ Home, knowing the impact of its reach and ability to talk to many readers. The organisation achieved their goals of raising awareness by investing in print as opposed to online advertising, which would have been ignored anyway.

The ‘digital dream’ marketers were promised is slowly diminishing. It’s time for marketers to refocus their skills to effective, results driven marketing tools – an area established medias, particularly print, perform well in.

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