In our fast-moving world of digital marketing, articles can quickly become outdated. But that’s not the case for Ben Wood’s “The End of Dumb Digital Marketing.” Wood, now the director of agencies for Facebook, was the global president of the iProspect network, one of the largest digital marketing firms in the world, when he penned the piece in 2014 for Admap. It remains one of the most influential pieces I have read.

The premise is that brands have not yet fully embraced online media’s unique role in fully-integrated campaigns designed to drive engagement, awareness and equity. Wood encourages us to use and measure digital in a broader ecosystem of both online and offline strategies that collectively address the consumer’s complete buying journey.

My key takeaways from the article:

  1. Data utilization often falls down where the customer journey crosses between online, mobile and offline channels, and therefore the loop is not closed. Money is wasted and the consumer is confused by the purpose of the advertising. In the worst cases, the consumer is annoyed and brand equity is eroded.

    From the article … “A consumer researching a cheap flight online could make that purchase over the phone or on a mobile application. But the online data will call for that consumer to continue to be targeted with advertising for that flight. The loop hasn’t been closed.”*

  2. Campaign optimization must wrap around the whole journey. Working to the last digital click only optimizes channels at the bottom of the funnel. This oversimplifies the complete customer journey and assigns no value to those channels driving awareness and engagement earlier in the journey.

    From the article … “If your optimization models are built around (bottom of the funnel) metrics, the chances are that your digital channel investment profile is wrong and money is being wasted.” *

  3. The smartest operators in attribution spend time understanding all the outcomes from digital advertising, both those that convert as well as those that do not, to truly understand the integrated effect of the campaign.

    From the article … “Embrace these levels of sophistication and build attribution into your campaign reporting to rebalance the spend profile against the true performers in the plan.” *

  4. Digital gets the credit for most conversions, but it needs to be appraised as the endpoint in a much more complex consumer journey. Search and retargeting don’t work without brand equity.

    From the article … “Always try to think about the role of online advertising as part of a much wider, richer and more complex ecosystem of Bought, Owned and Earned communications.” *

  5. No matter how essential technology and optimization algorithms are, people and the thoughtful synthesis that we bring to marketing campaigns will always make the biggest difference. Science without art is blind.

    From the article … “In the data and technology driven world of digital advertising, those brands and agencies that win are the ones best able to embrace science and combine it with art – the intangible magic that only people can bring.” *

Wood’s advice may be older in “digital years”, but his message is transcendent and worth remembering.

* © {2017} Copyright and database rights owned by WARC.