For the last ten years, data-driven content has been heralded as the universal panacea for all marketing ills.
You can’t throw an iPhone X in New York without hitting at least ten data agencies promising millions of impressions.
They’re in the business of delivering eyeballs. Lots and lots of them.
Propelled by analytics, sales history, viewing preferences, and a truckload of huckster jargon, they’ve sold the ad world on the numbers, the programmatic buys, and the reach.
If you want to target a grumpy, male, ex-pat adman with a wet cappuccino habit and a passion for the kind of football where you actually use your feet to propel the ball around the field, well, these guys and gals know where he lives and precisely how to reach him.
The problem with this perfect delivery scenario is that once it gets its target in its sites and exactly where it wants it, the whole shebang manifestly fails to deliver.
How else to explain the universally acknowledged fact that the average click rate for an online banner ad is about .07% or 7 clicks for every 10,000 ads.
And that’s before we take into account bots, click fraud, the vagaries targeting, and what the hell actually constitutes an impression.
Part of the problem seems to be an assumption that success depends solely on being able to drop the right message in the right place at the right time.
Quite how this fallacy ever gained currency, I’ll never know.
The truth is that delivery is only half the job.
The real task begins the second the ad is seen, in other words, when it’s transformed from a bunch of 1s and 0s into a communications message.
It’s here that the purveyors of data-driven content fail to ask themselves the most fundamental of questions:
Why on earth would anyone want to stop what they’re doing to read this?
What’s in it for them?
Does it in engage, shock, cajole, or seduce?
Does it pique their interest in any way?
Does it compel them to react, or, the multi-million-dollar question- click?
This new task isn’t about data, it’s about selling and its best practitioners, mostly senior and ergo expensive, have been dumped out of the industry in recent years, the chief victims of our endless mania for mergers and consolidations.
Put out to pasture far too early, they’re now needed more than ever.
True, these folks don’t look the part. They look ancient – many are actually in their 40s and 50s. They like to go to their kids’ soccer games and dance recitals, don’t sport beards or tats, and more than likely don’t have an earthly clue who Childish Gamino is.
But they do know how to put a provocative ad message together, and how to do so with the wit, charm, persuasion, and impact.
Bring them in from the cold, listen to what they have to say, trust that they know what they’re doing and, who knows, you might just get a banner ad that actually works.
Because without impact an online campaign will never be seen.
And a campaign that’s never seen isn’t a campaign.
It’s a waste of money.