OPINION: Where would you advertise if it were your money?

Glenn Mabbott
By Glenn Mabbott | 26 March 2013
UNOmarcomms director, Glenn Mabbott.

I read recently, most entrepreneurs who are successful focus on realising their business concepts as well and as fast as they can. Worrying about how much money they will make comes a distant second.

Entrepreneurs focus on what the customer needs. The financial rewards follow if they have developed something that truly creates added value for their customers.

The advice industry is different. Advisors focus on what the customer will pay. Financial advisors charge you a percentage of what you have to invest. Not according to how they add value at the end of the financial year, which is what you actually need.

Last year the ASIC mystery shop of 64 financial advisors found only 2 gave “good” advice. 62 gave generic or bad advice, generally in line with their own interests, not the customers. While there’s no regulator doing mystery shopping of ad agencies or media shops, I suspect marketing services “advisors” wouldn’t score much better.

Media sales is still predominantly based on a cut of what you spend, not a share of your return on investment. Online ad-sales is the same model, just with a bigger margin from your spend. Some online adspace aggregators mark up inventory by 60%. For a 60% markup their computer serving of your ads has very little value add, let alone quality control. Look at this as an example of inappropriate ad-exchange placement:


Every medium is out to convince you that their category is the best way to spend your money. They will always have a pie chart to prove it. It’s in their interest to have you spend more of your marketing pie with them. This will increase their commission, irrespective of whether it will increase your return.

For instance, Adwords looks a cheap way to buy eyeballs. But if your Adwords campaigner gets into a bidding war for the most popular keywords, you’ll spend more than the same number of leads from less popular search terms. Does the supplier care?

You might think the answer is to use media specialists who charge by time. Like lawyers, they’ll make more the longer their process drags on. More meetings, less decisions, the bigger your bill.

There are now more types of specialists than ever, each fighting for a bigger share of your budget – SEO, PPC, SEM, online content, online ads, email lists, data analysts, mobile, apps, ambient, ambush, experiential, waterproof stickers on urinals…
Which mediums are actually best for your business challenge?

I recommend looking at where to spend a clients’ money from this perspective:


Synergy comes from the right mix, at the right time, with the right creative message. Beware commission driven specialists selling one solution to solve every problem. You’ll get less than you pay for.

Glenn Mabbott
Creative Director & Principal

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