Businesses can't pay employee salaries in clicks and impressions, so it's time to start breaking down the process and being brutally honest in what digital marketing can and cannot do.
In the world of digital marketing, one of the metrics used to measure the performance of an ad is called an "impression." The industry standard declares a viewable impression as an ad where at least half the pixels of an ad are viewed for at least one second. The amount of impressions an ad gets, is then used to convince businesses just how many eyeballs are seeing their information, and helps set the rate at which the ad costs.( Much in the same way print advertisers use distribution numbers to sell ads to businesses.)
But lets consider the distribution of the phone book for a moment. Nearly 500 million phone books are distributed annually, and it is estimated that 70% don't even use them, with nearly 660, 000 tons of them ending up in the land fill every year. Although I'm convinced that the other 30% were merely referencing its unintentional use of boosting their toddler up to the dinner table or as a prop for adolescent boys to prove their strength while ripping them in two.
So why do they still publish and distribute them you ask? How is it still even profitable when so many people throw them away? The answer is simple, the publisher is basing ad rates on how many people the books are distributed to, not how many people actually use or even look at them. While the profits for print phone book ads are certainly declining, those distribution numbers still convince some businesses it's worth it.
But just as phone books are disposed without anyone ever seeing the ads within them, digital ads are often scrolled past or "x'ed" out just as fast.
I can already feel the glares from the Digital Marketing World and expect a hand full of emails that will argue that the conversion rate you pay for that brief view is still well worth the money, but as Advertising and Marketing Guru Bob Hoffman points out , many of these ads are very likely to run on "make believe websites that have make believe traffic."
In fact, his website, The Ad Contrarian, is devoted to exposing such misconceptions or down right scams within the industry. His book, Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey offers other industry insights and as the title would indicate, humorously so. (If your offended by profanity, you may want to give it a skip though. His ideas and theories are almost always presented or accompanied by an expletive.)
For arguments sake, let's pretend for just a moment that these ads are actually seen by consumers. How do you get them to click it? The click is another metric used to convince the business that not only did they see your ad, but it worked! "They clicked it, they want to know more". But not so fast.
I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but even this metric is often unreliable. Think about the last time you were taking a quiz on Facebook, you know the one that confirms your IQ is above average for choosing one image in a series of images. Now think about how many times during this quiz you mistake a pop up ad for the next button that will take you to the next question. Now think about how frustrated you feel. Turns out you are not alone. According to the mobile location firm Retale, 60% of clicks are actually accidents, with 68% of the perpetrators feeling highly annoyed and frustrated for having done so!
So not only did your ad not get the full view it deserved, the lasting impression you made on the consumer was negative; a spot, which up until now, was reserved mostly by telemarketing calls during dinner time.
it is difficult to measure all marketing efforts with precise certainty? Yes. But anyone taking your money should be prepared to help you connect the dots, and offer a clear explanation on how it will equate to increased profits in the future.
The issue certainly is a complex one, and this is not to say that all digital marketing is a scam, but the industry doesn't seem to go out of their way to remedy any of the misconceptions that are out there either. What you will get are compelling arguments about statistics and verification of their conversion rates; still falling short on explaining the most important conversion; your return on investment. At least that's the impression i get...