Turns out good ol’ John Wanamaker was more than right:
Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.
- John Wanamaker
Google admitted that 56.1% of all the impressions served on Google’s Display Network — that is, served by a serious company, not by an un-named organisation running a dubious ad network from the middle of nowhere — could never have been seen.
But that’s only half of the story. Or 56% of it, if you wish. The more interesting part, and the one nobody talks about, is: what do you track? Tracking systems will tell you that a user “has seen” a certain banner ad and will speculate that even though he did not bother to click on it, he was in fact influenced by it when, on a later date, he encountered another ad or did a search on Google, clicked and then converted.
But can we trust this to be true, especially when Google is selling not merely Adwords on the search results, but a large part of the banner ads as well via Doubleclick? Another good question could be: is this guess done on ads that the users have seen, or on those served to them? A further one: why do we “attribute” part of the merit to banner ads nobody clicked on, but fail to do the same with print, radio or tv ads?
Some friends who are always eager to convert me to the immense power of Social Media pointed me to this article on Econsultancy. To which my first reaction was: wow, 0.1% of KLM’s total revenue comes from Social Media! Ain’t that nice? ;-)
Another friend chipped in: and I’m sure it’s all retargeting.
That’s right: it’s not the “conversations” — in no fewer than 11 languages, soon to be expanded to 14 — that drive this massive 0.1% of sales. Nope. It’s almost certainly advertising on Facebook and Twitter. And not normal advertising that helps build the case and the need for a product or a service, but retargeting, i.e. advertising that “just” closes the sale once most of the job is already done. If this is the best they can do to convince us that Social Media is a force to be reckoned with, they’re in trouble.
I spotted what follows in a job offer:
Analytical observation to built your decision with data and no intuitions.
How many times is this wrong? For starters, “to build” your decision, not “to built”. And you “build” decisions? In… French? Or German, perhaps? Whatever. More importantly: never use your intuition! How were the original choices made, if not by intuition? Choices about the user interface, the first advertising campaigns etc?
Don’t ever do it again. Look at the data, and that’s all you need to know. Why not feed the data into a machine, then? This is not how it works. How it works is: you look at data, and you spot something you don’t like. Conversions from the homepage to sign-ups, for example, are low. Then you look at your homepage, and make a guess.
You use your intuition to say something like: if only we had a bigger sign-up button! Or a better explanation of why you should sign up and give us a try. And it’s exactly your intuition that tells you what could be wrong with your homepage. Data just gives you information about the past, not ideas about how to make the future better.
Then you say something like: if the bigger (and greener!) sign up button helps us get 10% more sign-ups, then we’ll be happy and consider the experiment a success. Then and only then can you rely on numbers only: was your intuition right, or not?
The horse-shit you read about Social Media Marketing and the true value of a Facebook Fan can come from any place these days, not just from Silicon Valley. Here’s proof: a nice “study” coming from an Advertising Agency in Zagreb, Croatia.
So, here’s how it goes: they took 8 brands which had Facebook Pages — and I don’t even want to think that they may have chosen them to make their study look better. Let’s say they did not take out any brand page that had poor numbers. They calculated the average number of impressions per status and then divided that number by the number of fans each company had. This was, in their opinion, the “number of impressions per fan”, even though, to their credit, they were the first to point out that it was very possible that part of these impressions were viewed by people coming from either Facebook or search engines who were not “fans” of those brands. There is no mention in the study of the average number of posts these brands made on their Facebook Pages; however, they are very happy to think that if those brands made a post every single day, Christmas included, their fans would be ecstatic – I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a post a day from their favourite brand of beer? (and cookies, breakfast cereal, toothpaste, home appliances, toilet paper etc). Multiply that by 5 years (seems legit: read a post a day from your favourite beer for 5 years) during which, of course, Facebook would never change its rules like it does every other month, and you get 2,646 impressions per fan. If those impressions were bought at $ 10 CPM like they were banner ads (banner ads on average sell for $ 10 CPM in Croatia? Really??), then there you have it: every fan on Facebook is worth $ 26.46. Oh, yeah!
Julie Fleischer, Kraft’s director of data, content and media speaks about Content Marketing at Kraft and states the obvious but yet unspoken and very welcome truth: brands shouldn’t post content they don’t deem worthy of paying to distribute.
The days of free organic reach are rapidly coming to an end. If you wouldn’t spend money behind it, then why do it? It’s shouting into the wind without making a sound. How many of us are guilty of being slaves to a calendar or posting cadence?
In other words: if only 4% of your followers read it, it’s just an expense. If it is so good that you want to pay to distribute and it brings in results, great. If not, don’t do it.