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The digital debate - are digital budgets being wasted?

John Butcher
Aug 11, 2015 8:30:00 AM

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CMOs should embrace procurement

The importance of being able to assign tangible ROI to a multi-faceted marketing campaign that uses both traditional and digital methods is a top priority to brands, according to participants on our recent digital marketing panel discussion.

The discussion shone the spotlight on a greater need for marketing leaders to marry the results from multiple digital projects and external agencies, with business expectations.

Digital Disconnect Webinar

With digital marketing budgets on the rise, it is important that brands look at how much of their investment is delivering the commercial outcomes business leaders are expecting. Our own research into the effectiveness of digital marketing spend, titled the digital disconnect, found that companies are wasting up to 60% of their budgets on poor commercial practices.

Jonathan Cooper-Bagnall, Proxima’s Executive Vice President and Commercial Director, introduced the topic by looking at the differences and similarities between digital and traditional marketing methods; facilitating the debate around what is needed to overcome the disconnect between digital activity and tangible Return on Investment (ROI). He was joined by myself, John Butcher, Digital Marketing Specialist at Proxima, Mark Simester, Marketing Director at Warburtons and Charles Ping, CEO of Fuel.

Simester offered his comments on traditional versus digital marketing to set the scene: stating that “traditional marketing was about broadcasting your brand message to many consumers. The digital world has enabled brands to talk one-to-one, with millions of people. It’s not just about talking really loudly about one message, it is about having one-to-one conversations. As a result the data you get back is richer.”

While those in their 40s may have had an encyclopedia as a good source of knowledge, today it is all about the web and with that comes trillions of data points.

“The data point of traditional was a messy game of fuzzy matches of misspelt names and telephone calls. Digital data on the other hand is either precisely right or nowhere near. Personalisation and relevance is the key to [the] genius of digital but it has to be right,” Ping explains.

It is true agencies need to understand their client’s customers. I believe that a driving force behind the seemingly sporadic approach to digital, both on client and agency side, is fear. Fear of missing out, fear of losing competitive advantage, fear of the unknown. There is a tendency to follow the herd.

However, just because everyone else is swarming into digital and mobile it does not mean that every brand has to do it at the same speed, scale and in the same way. Marketers should consider why they are moving to digital in the first place and ensure their consumers are in the right places. If you get personal in the wrong way, you’ll only end up shutting people out or they’ll provide false data. Starting off with corrupt data means everything you do from then on will be flawed.

Simester went on to explain that while traditional and digital were very different in their outcomes, the approach needs to be the same. “It is crucial that as a marketer you have to have crystal clear objectives before you set off down the digital path, and your agency needs a really clear brief in order to decide if and what digital is appropriate. The second point is that you need to have a fantastic creative idea. People tend to talk about digital as if the channel automatically ‘magic’s up’ sales uplift or better brand perception but you need an amazing, creative idea too.”

Working alongside our clients here at Proxima, I have found that starting with business needs and objectives first, is critically important for setting the direction for ‘digital’. Only after this is agreed do we explore options in digital to drive and achieve the agreed objectives. The painful irony of digital is that you can measure almost everything to obtain insight, but not all of it is relevant, all the time.

It can take weeks to measure the success of a traditional marketing campaign but the flexibility of digital and access to real-time analytics can quickly demonstrate how successful a campaign has been or not. This insight into measureable results means that procurement can make sure digital budgets of large brands are being spent wisely and not being wasted.

Hear more of this discussion - watch the on-demand version of the digital disconnect panel discussion here

As always, if you have any thoughts or comments, please add them to the comment box below. 

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