Why marketers have an “illogical” approach to media planning

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 12 May 2017
Carat CEO Paul Brooks in conversation with Visa head of marketing Jac Phillips at the AdNews Media and Marketing Summit.

Marketers “obsession with digital” stems from their hardwired tendency to favour the ‘new’ in spite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness and value, Visa senior director and head of marketing Jac Phillips has warned.

Phillips highlighted this “illogical” approach to media planning in a talk about some of the challenges she sees in media and marketing at the AdNews Media and Marketing Summit this morning.

She was referring to a World Federation of Advertisers study of 50 leading marketers managing global ad spend of $82 billion that highlighted an alarming contradiction between increases in digital media investment and negative perceptions about its value and effectiveness.

In the study, two thirds of marketers expect to increase investment in digital media by as much as 40% despite half of the same sample unable to see the value of digital, 75% were unconvinced of its effectiveness and 72% think digital has been overinvested.

“Who said logic prevails,” she said. “That legendary marketing professor – sorry Mark, the other one – Christine Mormon has been publishing the same findings for many years in her annual Duke University CMO survey. She shows a couple of pie charts that marketers, around two thirds re unable to show the business return on digital marketing and unconvinced that it adds value.

“The other chart shows a similar proportion planning to invest more in digital every year. The results are as illogical as they are consistent,” Phillips added.

“If most marketers continue to switch more of their budgets to digital marketing and away from traditional channels, they’re not doing it because traditional channels are losing share or engagement or because digital media metrics make sense.

“They are doing it simply because it is in their nature to favour the ‘new’ over the ‘old’ – the digital over the traditional. It seems in Australia we aren’t too different either as digital advertising has grown substantially.”

Despite calling marketers bias towards the ‘new’, Phillips admits she is a big fan of digital media and its ability to target and personalise messaging. She says Visa is heavily focused on digital and spends 60% of its media budget is spent online.

“The difference is we know its effective – we’re tracking it,” she says. “The targeting available allows us to be more personal in our approach than any other media, and personalisation increases engagement.

“One of our Always On campaigns…we’ve moved to a more personal approach and seen our click through rates five times higher than a generic approach. We’ve also seen our CPM drop five times lower.

“When we use a mix of media channels, digital is most effective at driving ROI, but we don’t just stop at digital, we also use mainstream media.”

'We need quotas' 

Another challenge she says needs urgent attention is a lack of gender and ethnic diversity in senior creative roles.

“What will set us apart in Australia is talent and tapping into the diversity that exists around us every day. As a senior marketer with access to significant marketing resources, and because money talks, I personally have quite an influence on the industry and its future.

"It kills me to think that no large creative agency I’ve worked with has had female creatives or Asian or Indian or other cultures at senior levels.”

Phillips believes the industry should introduce quotas to redress the imbalance and creative agencies need to be better at finding more diverse talent.

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