Report Shows Marketing Bias is Hurting Campaign Effectiveness

“In a media landscape muddied by unfounded biases, questionable metrics and marketing jargon, the challenge for advertisers and agencies is to cut through the BS and identify which channels legitimately boost marketing effectiveness. It’s no easy task in an evolving, expanding and increasingly fragmented marketplace. And doing so asks that marketers leave their preconceptions at the door and consider all channels.”

That’s some solid advice from the folks at Print Power, who advise marketers to cut through the hype and look at the evidence of what actually works in modern marketing.

At the heart of the issue is a wide chasm between the perception of what works and the reality, the article notes. They refer to the 2018 report from Radiocentre and Ebiquity title Re-evaluating Media that “laid bare marketer’s perceptions about which channels perform best, and the extent to which they’re divorced from reality,” in the words of media commentator Mark Ritson.

The two primary conclusions from the report are eye-openers:

“First, a significant number of marketers are not driven by data anymore. They look at their own highly unrepresentative media consumption and use that as a proxy for their media planning,” Ritson notes.

Second, he says, “there is a significant bias within media agencies towards digital media and against so-called traditional alternatives. If you look at the amount of money that can be made in fees and rebates from digital media it is often a factor of three or four times more profitable to recommend digital video over TV or radio.”

Surprised? I’m not, really. We know that print is often devalued by marketers raised on the fast, cheap and easy digital experience. There is, no doubt, that gulf between perception and reality. And too often, brands that have succeeded before in print fall prey to what these “experts” are pushing.

“Most worrying of all was that the perception/reality gap was most pronounced when measured against 12 criteria,” the article continues. “This ‘overall weighted score’ put magazines, newspapers and direct mail in tenth and joint seventh. While in reality the three channels placed in fourth, third and sixth respectively, beating social (7), online video (9) and online display (10).”

Again, perception doesn’t jive with reality when it comes to how marketers think. And this isn’t a new problem; we’ve been reporting on this as early as 2013.

The Print Power article is definitely worth a read if you want to enlighten yourself on just how deep a problem this is. Short-termism has replaced more strategic long-term tactics, and those decisions are supported and indeed fueled by a  digitally-biased ad industry.

The evidence is becoming clear that discarding print is causing campaign performance to drop.

“Chasing highly-targeted, short-term sales activations, mostly across search and social, has stymied the use of traditional channels,” the article continues. “It’s likely also why perceptions towards these channels among marketers have soured somewhat. But worse still, we’ve seen this approach prop up a five-year decline in the effectiveness of top-performing campaigns in the UK.”

If you truly want to develop marketing strategies that move the needle in ways that matter to your business goals, the entire article and the report are both worth a read.

Public opinion is easily swayed by the confidence of a small subset of the public. In this case, it’s the marketing industry’s infatuation with digital that has so many brands conditioned to see print as “yesterday’s news.”

A critical look at the evidence – from the brands that are succeeding in print publishing and the brands that are leveraging print in their ad campaigns – shows clearly that print is much more effective than the ad industry leads us to believe.