Forest through the Trees Part 4

Toll Takers vs

After reading my first three articles, you should have picked up on these points:

1) The Millennial generation is important, but shouldn’t make you change the way you handle all of your marketing.

2) Digital advertising “noise” seems to mostly benefit those who created it.

3) You shouldn’t doubt or change your view on how good business works, just because a new industry tells you that you should.

So, what do all these things mean for those, like me, who work in the advertising agency side of the business? Let’s take a look…

That fact is most ad agencies are about as popular as insurance agents. Businesses don’t want us, but they typically need us. And no one can blame them? Even John Wannamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half!” So, with odds like that how excited should our clients be? In my opinion, they should be very excited! If a MLB player had a .500 batting average, he wouldn’t be just playing for the Yankees, he would be part owner of the team! However, there is still a lot of skepticism and the reasons for the skepticism are justifiable.

The digital advertising media outlets will tell you that they can track everything and give you reports to prove what works. However, no matter how many reports you receive, there is still skepticism about whether this method of advertising really is doing what it says.

When Google rakes in billions in a single year of ads never seen by the human eye or Facebook invoices for ads seen for a nano second but claims everything is fine on their end, who wouldn’t be suspicious? When a “digital company” only delivers a 28% viewability rate, but then has the nerve to tell you they weren’t optimizing for viewability, but rather for click thru success, one must ask how can anyone click on an ad intentionally if they don’t see it?

So, what exactly are the ad agency’s responsibilities? We can’t just blindly spend our client’s media budgets on this internally monitored digital advertising industry and prosper from it. If you buy digital advertising based only on the standards mandated by the MMA or the IAB and use them as the trusted watch dogs for this “Wild West” industry, be very careful! While these organizations may mean well and are working harder to develop higher digital standards, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that there is a lot more work to be done and as an agency, it’s our responsibility to our client to see that it gets done.

Remember, media outlets, whether traditional or digital, are businesses, plain and simple. Many of them proclaim to have certain values, but in the end, they were built to make money! Media outlets like to preach equality, but if that is the case, why does nearly everything tilt in their favor? Whether it’s a non-comparable make good, a slew of added value that never airs, or the price-hike needed to make digital ads viewable, every one of these leans to the media outlets’ favor and does not benefit the advertiser. In the end, they’re the “house,” so the deck is stacked in their favor. I have found that being diligent is the only way to turn the results in the favor of our clients.

As a client, you should trust your agency. Just like your dentist, doctor, accountant or lawyer, your agency is the expert. That’s the reason you hire them. It is your agency’s job, or better yet obligation, to have your best interest in mind when handling your advertising budgets. They ultimately, become the toll-takers between your budgets and the media outlets.

I realize, as an agency owner, that our bottom lines are also important, but we aren’t just the middle man between a company and a media outlet. It’s our responsibility to earn that money, not just process invoices blindly. Agencies need to be the police force in the ever-changing digital advertising universe, navigating through the land mines in the digital world, while working to improve the bottom lines of their clients.

Since our clients are the ones who write the checks to pay for all this advertising, and are ultimately our boss, we should spend their money very carefully. Doing what’s easy, following the industry, and chasing after one generation simply isn’t acceptable. Agencies should be diligent, ask questions of the advertising industry, make smarter decisions, and guide our clients based on our knowledge and credibility.

So here is the main take away: All advertising is key to your success, especially digital advertising, if you intend to reach millennials. But digital is not the only way to reach them, or anyone for that matter, and shouldn’t be considered the savior of your business’s future. Traditional media is always relevant and necessary as well. It’s finding the proper mix that will win the day. Remember, while millennials are one of the largest generations in our history and presently represent 25% of all buying power, you’ll want to remind yourself that many of their habits and interest will change with age, much like the Hippies of the ‘60s.

Until next time…. I’ll see you around the water cooler app!