Last week’s post revived a discussion from two years prior. So it seems we do this again. A little over two years ago, we addressed a debate over “art vs. science and math” with regard to advertising and once again an alarmist is presenting a failing, emotional argument to fight a business argument.
This week’s Advertising Age ran “The Dangers of Online Advertising’s ‘Math State,’” Kendall Allen of the Laredo Group laments that “Filling the industry with actuaries and Wall Streeters isn’t going to make online advertising better.”
Actually, Ms. Kendall, it is. First of all, it has made advertising better in that efficiencies have been established due to web based technologies that have made advertising more affordable for smaller businesses, and allowed all businesses to segment better. Second, the efficacy of creative talent can now be measured on a real time basis, enabling more aggressive creatives to respond to market reactions and help brands improve. We’re not going to go much into this, but it’s important to realize that the best sailmakers of two hundred years ago may have realized it’s time to learn to be a steam mechanic because the demand for canvas would be decreasing.
To reiterate what we commented on in a ClickZ article back then,
“The new marketing world you take umbrage to and deeply fear is about gathering, storing, analyzing, sharing, and acting upon data. When marketing can show they have informational superiority over the competition, they can win. “Big ideas” are great but how do you know if you have a “profitable idea” or an “effective idea” if you do not set goals and measure against them? If the cost of measuring exceeds the benefit of knowing, then yes, it’s a waste and can take down a company. But measuring is less (costly) than ever in a network centric world and It’s the old style “big idea” people that put the chokehold on organizations, not the metrics people.
The “new era of creative excellence” is moot – there’s excellent creative out there but it needs to be tempered with business discipline – and that discipline comes from numbers. And if marketers can’t justify their existence to shareholders with measurable results, whack them and find ones who will, starting with the CXOs who are clinging to the old media/industrial age perspective.”
Two years later, these words have more evidence to back them up. The tide is turning and will not recess. As a creative type surrounded by the growing ranks of Marketing Technologists, are you going to bitterly cling to your delusion of being in the Mad Men era or are you going to adapt?
Please, agencies et. all, we don’t want to have to address metrics and measurement again as a “threat” in 2013. If there is anyone in your ranks wailing and gnashing their teeth, offer them a buyout; you don’t need the deadweight. Thank you.