Digital marketers suffer from blind faith

by Nigel Hollis | March 18, 2015

“Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed,” so said Bruce Springsteen in his introduction before performing the song War. While Duncan Southgate, our Digital Global Brand Director, does not believe that blind faith in optimization based on behavioral metrics will kill you, he does think it can undermine your overall return on digital marketing investment.

This is one of the key points made by in Duncan’s new point of view titled, “The Digital Blind Spots that Jeopardize Your Brand.” I talked to Duncan once he had finished writing his POV, and he explained in a little more detail what he believes marketers need to do in order to maximize the return on their digital investment.


Nigel:  “You talk in your POV about two important digital blind spots. Can you outline what you have in mind?”

Duncan: “First, many marketers are blind to how well their digital campaign is likely to work. Brands go live without having conducted any pre-testing to understand the likely efficacy of the copy.  You wouldn’t spend $250 on a hotel without checking it out on TripAdvisor, so why spend $250,000 or more on digital advertising without checking whether the ads are any good?

Second, once live, many brands rely solely on behavioral metrics to optimize (either programmatically or manually), without really understanding whether these metrics represent the overall response to the campaign.  Many brands are using digital to build their brand not just drive immediate response. You would not blindly follow your sat nav directions down a one way street so why steer a digital campaign using metrics which are unrelated to your ultimate objective?”

Nigel: “I understand how pre-test research might identify whether a campaign was even worth running  - after all there is no point optimizing something that does not move the needle – but how can research help reduce the second blind spot?”

Duncan: “The second blind spot exists because marketers assume that the behavior of the tiny minority willing and able to respond to a campaign now are representative of the overall target audience that might buy the brand when the time comes. This may not be true. A while back it was identified that clicks and brand lift do not correlate, which implies that behavior and attitude may move in opposite directions. The majority of people reached by a digital campaign are not likely to buy now but may buy in future if the ad engages them in the right way. You can only tell whether that is happening and whether you are maximizing the overall response to the campaign if you survey people during the campaign and optimize based on the overall response.”

Nigel: “So what can marketers do in order to reduce their digital blind spots?”

Duncan: “Our new Link Now for Digital solution can deliver simple, validated and easy to understand results in as little as 6 hours – to improve your digital display, video, Facebook or mobile ads. So we can help optimize campaigns before they go live even when the window of opportunity is very small.   Brand Lift Insights (formerly AdIndex) delivers real-time dashboard reporting that allows brand-based optimization 2 weeks after the start of an online campaign. Used in conjunction with behavioral optimization these tools can really help improve overall digital ROI.”

To read Duncan’s POV click here, but meanwhile please share your thoughts. Why do so many digital marketers seem willing to fly brand blind? Please share your thoughts.