One of the industry’s most candid speakers, Mark Ritson, visited New Zealand last week on an invitation from the Commercial Communications Council and DDB.
While exposing the shortcomings of digital advertising has long been one of his favourite pastimes, his speech extended well beyond that remit, addressing many of the factors defining the industry today.
“We are really shaking the foundations of everything,” Ritson started. “That makes for excitement, but it also makes for confusion.”
Ritson is sometimes dismissed by digiphiles as an anti-digital guy, who sees no value in what digital offers. From the outset, it quickly became apparent that this isn’t necessarily the case.
Quoting research from the World Federation of Advertisers, which is made up of the top 50 advertisers in the world, Ritson said marketers are only getting around 28c out of every $1 spent on programmatic advertising. The other 72c is lost to the complicated media supply chain, which sees the overall spend cut at various stages, and also to bot traffic.
Over the last year, we’ve seen numerous burnt with ads being placed on questionable websites. The issue became so significant this year, that a number of high-profile local advertisers suspended their advertising on YouTube and other Google sites.
“We used to spend a lot of time worrying about ad placement,” Ritson said. “All that’s gone with programmatic because we don’t know where it’s going.”
To explain his point, Ritson pointed to the example of JP Morgan, where chief marketing office Kristin Lemkau cut the number of websites its ads were appearing on from 400,000 to 5,000 that would’ve made the cut in any of the traditional channels.
“She’s obviously chosen brand safety over programmatic efficiency, except she hasn’t. She then pointed out that since going down to one percent [of the original number] she hasn’t seen any deterioration in performance metrics,” Ritson said.
He also explained that there's an inherent flaw with attribution models in that they only measure what happens at the final stage when the customer goes online and clicks on the item. This approach doesn’t take into account at all what drove the customer to this point.
“I don’t believe in attribution. I think you can attribute some things but you can’t attribute others. It doesn’t work… It’s like trying to measure the tennis ball speed during an entire game.”
Ritson argues that so-called “spreadsheet jockeys” tend to measure CPM, CPC and a number of other digital metrics with great accuracy but this is only a small part of the entire journey.
“What they’re missing is the power of the tools they cannot measure. You can’t do that with a TV ad.. because it’s not possible. The TV ad has a long-term goal. The TV ad is not meant to drive an immediate response.. We can’t measure the impact of some of these things immediately.”
He was quick to point out that this isn’t to be taken as an anti-digital tirade, but rather as a recommendation to use all channels