Ad agencies are overhyped, and measuring engagement isn't necessarily as important as you may think. Here are some key misconceptions about the interactive industry.
The marketing industry is all about hype. But when marketers themselves buy into the hype surrounding their own roles within the industry, dangerous misperceptions can sometimes be accepted unquestioningly as fact.
John Durham, CEO and managing partner of Catalyst: SF, set out to bust some of the most common myths circulating in online marketing by asking industry experts to identify what they feel is the most overhyped element or notion circulating among interactive marketers today. Not surprisingly, responses were wide-ranging, reflecting each expert's unique role within the digital marketing space.
Tod Sacerdoti, CEO and founder of BrightRoll, challenged the notion that online video's reach is inherently limited. "One issue we see in the marketplace is the argument that television-size reach isn't available particularly in online video," he said.
Sacerdoti pointed to several data points that indicate such a notion is, in fact, a myth. For one, online video consumption habits have changed. "On a daily basis, more videos are watched than searches conducted, which really shows the scale that the market has achieved," Sacerdoti said. In addition, branded publishers are increasingly embracing online video, he noted. And even though video content is exceptionally fragmented across the web, aggregators are increasingly bringing together huge catalogs of video inventory and thus broadening the medium's reach.
On a separate myth-busting note, Jason Shulman, CRO of [x+1], sparked a grumble among ad agency representatives when he provided his response to the question, "What is the most overrated notion circulating in the online marketing industry?" His response: That online marketing -- or marketing in general -- is so complicated and complex that you need to hire a fleet of expensive bodies -- something called an ad agency -- to help you navigate those treacherous waters.
Rachel Jarvis, partner and COO at ad agency Fuor Digital LLC, was more than happy to respond to Shulman's perceived myth regarding the utility of ad agencies. She pointed out that agencies today are no longer just about media planning and buying; they deliver specialized skill sets that cut right to the heart of digital marketing.
"It's not so much that you don't need an agency ever again, but you need to understand what your agency is providing for you, and how that's going to change, and how it should change if it already hasn't," Jarvis said. "I think you should have someone who understands what your goals are."
In that respect, she added, the structure of the traditional ad agency may be a thing of the past. Ad agencies approach their clients and tell them, "Here is your team." But not every campaign needs a creative director. So why should every team include one?
"It's about being a little more flexible in your structure," she said. "Why don't we put that team together once we understand what the goals and objectives of the campaign are?"
When taking his turn at myth-busting, Mark Naples, managing partner at WIT Strategy, chose to dispute a widely held perception within the industry. Although many digital marketers continue to lament the failure of the mobile medium to deliver on its forecasted marketing opportunity, Naples said that the real myth is that opportunities in the mobile medium are overhyped.
"In the next year to year and a half, we are really going to really see mobile happen," Naples said.
Similarly, in his effort to dispel digital marketing myths, Sean Cheyney, vice president of marketing and business development for AccuQuote, tackled a popular notion among online marketers: the idea that marketers need to move exclusively to an engagement model for measuring the success of their campaigns.
"While engagement may be the goal in certain campaigns, the thought of throwing out all our metrics in lieu of the engagement metric has really been hyped," he said. "Engagement isn't a replacement, but it can be a good addition to the metrics that are already in place." After all, Cheyney said, if content engagement never translates into a purchase, many direct marketers will tell you that they couldn't care less about how high their levels of content engagement are among consumers.
Marti Funk, vice president for client solutions and insights at Sportgenic, noted that traditional metrics are not going to go away; reach and frequency will continue to be important. But she also pointed out that measuring engagement can be important, particularly in monitoring social media channels.
"When you start to think about tapping into social networks specifically, time spent is one thing, but it's more about how that time is spent," she said.
Jerry Courtney, group manager of corporate multimedia for Target, later pointed out that the way in which the interactive industry thinks about measurements -- and what needs to be measured and how -- is likely to undergo significant change within the next 12 to 18 months.
"The difference between media and marketing is going to go away," he said. "Media gets a number. There will be a number against that media, and that will be your effectiveness score."
Lori Luechtefeld is editor of iMedia Connection.