Different Universes

I despair sometimes, I really do. Two unrelated topics this week seem to indicate that the ad industry exists in a separate parallel universe to the rest of humanity, and that our influence over what happens in real life is slim to nil.

Let’s start with the doyenne of online data trends, Mary Meeker. It used to be fashionable to share her humungous annual presentation. This was the alpha and omega of decks, containing everything you ever wanted to know about life, the universe and everything – at least as far as online media forms were concerned.

I always had a problem with one of her charts – which for me coloured my view of the rest of her work. This is the chart contrasting the amount of time given up to a medium with the ad expenditure on that medium.

Meeker’s point was that the gap between these two sets of data represented the financial opportunity for that medium. So – TV took up a comparatively small amount of the average individual’s time, but a large percentage of total adspend. TV was thus over-invested.

Radio, and in particular mobile (Meeker’s favourite) took up a large percentage of time spent, but received a comparatively modest amount of ad revenue. They were thus under-invested – and therein lay the greatest opportunity.

Everybody who knows a scintilla about advertising can spot the problem here. The great and the good, from Sir Martin Sorrell to Tess Alps pointed out that impact and creative considerations maybe have a part to play.

Even the mighty Cog Blog had a go, suggesting back in 2016 that if time spent with a vehicle was the only consideration then we would long ago have had advertising on cutlery, or if we literally looked only at opportunities to see data OOH would easily be the largest advertising medium on the planet.

Meeker still peddles this nonsense though. She might conceivably ignore Sir Martin, she can be forgiven for not paying attention to some random blogger but if she doesn’t listen to the formidable Ms Alps she’s asking for trouble.

Next we have the merry-go-round at The Daily Mail. For those unaware, Geordie Greig, the Editor of the daily paper has this week been (using a journalistic term) ousted, following the promotion of Richard Caccappolo to be CEO of the company’s media businesses.

Why does this matter? Caccappolo is closely associated with the success of The MailOnline, and what a success that has been.

The MailOnline has it is fair to say prospered on the back of its obsession with celebrity. News, per se is not at the top of its agenda, and whatever you think of The Daily Mail’s politics no-one can accuse it of not being a NEWSpaper.

The ad world is though moving even if ever so slowly in the direction of quality of content, of audience attention, and on focussing on business outcomes over the blunt numbers delivered by the social media platforms and many online outlets.

We have moved on from gross impressions and from clicks as we pay attention to other data more closely aligned with advertiser success.

And yet what these two tales illustrate is that what we see as a trend is not recognised by those driving the media agenda.

You might argue that we are ahead of our time and that others will catch up. That would be optimistic.

More likely whilst we may well be right, few outside of our marketing bubble are listening.

And that’s rather more depressing.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *