6 Modern digital marketing myths

Last week I revived 6 myths from 10 years ago and proceeded to further demolish those that persist to this day while laughing at those we now find absurd some people actually believed back then.

Since then however, things have evolved in numerous dimensions. Online has exploded to mobile, tablets, gaming devices, eReaders, smart TVs and other connected devices. Social media has come about and wasn’t just another fad. Video was only a prized opportunity and is now abundant. Content marketing is now very standard for most advertisers while it was wishful thinking back then.

Today we still have to contend with myths. Myths being things what are misunderstood or wrongfully believed to be something they are not because of ignorance or lack of curiosity. Let’s put a few of these new modern digital marketing myths to light now. Note that I was inspired to produce this post after reading Tom Goodwin’s similar post last summer.

#1 An ad impression is an opportunity to be seen (OTS)

While we long agreed this was truth, we (many of us at least) know this is false. An ad impression is not an opportunity to be seen, not necessarily.

We’ve long suspected that many ads delivered below the fold weren’t ever seen as not everyone scrolls through every page to the bottom. Yet we didn’t know in what proportion, nor how they would vary from one site to another.

Further, we’re now aware of display ad fraud which tricks, through various means, measurement systems into believing ads we really delivered while they weren’t. In some cases, they even trick systems into believing those fraudulent ads were actually seen by a human, making them “viewable”.

So no, not all ad impressions are opportunities to be seen.

newspapers#2 Newspapers are all but dead because of digital

At least in Canada, this one is false. It is true that newspapers have been having a difficult time for the last 10-15 years as digital opened much more competition for them. Most have nicely adapted to this new platform and have stopped obsession about the paper versus digital aspect of the debate to concentrate on quality news reporting regardless of the device used to deliver it.

People spend more time every week reading paper newspapers in 2014 than they did in 2001. While subscription has gone down, total readership hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years. I believe most of our printed daily newspapers will still be with us in 5 years and quite a few will be here 10 years from now.

#3 My clients are not active on social media

This one is rarely true. While there are still plenty of major brands, both local and internationally speaking, that don’t yet have a concerted social media marketing strategy and may not even have their own brand page or account anywhere, chances are that a page or account does exist. That account would be managed by employees or hard-core fans.

This was the case not long ago that a chain movie theatre on Montreal’s north shore had an active brand page on Facebook. It wasn’t until the page’s administrator posted an undesirable comment on this page that the brand actually found out about it.

80% of the Canadian population aged 2+ is active online and 80%+ of them are regular social network users. Chances are your audience, your clients, are indeed active there for you to reach.

#4 Social media is killing email marketing

This myth actually has some truth to it. Ever since social media has taken off in the late 2000s we’ve seen a steady decrease (overall) of newsletter membership. The answer for this is simple, while before 2005 email was the only way to “sign up” and get updates from a brand without having to constantly visit the brand website for updates (with the exception of almost too-geeky RSS readers).

Since then however consumers have multiple channels through with they can connect with a brand and stay up to day, namely social network brand presence, pages, channels and accounts. So yes many have dropped their email subscription in favor of liking a brand’s page. But there are still more than a few who prefer getting your updates through email and don’t want to hear from you on social media.

#5 Consumers want to interact with brands

Seriously? Most consumers do not want to befriend brands or companies. If you think of your own behavior, and that of your friends and family (ask around), you will see most people actually “like” or pay attention to maybe 2 to 6 brands that they really love. Either that brand inspires them, motivates them, or they just like how its consumption makes them feel. Sometimes that attention is to take advantage of flash deals, or to be the first to know.

Beyond merely paying attention to brands, we get into interactions, communications between brand and consumer. Outside of customer service, there is very little of this actually happening. But there is a lot of customer service happening through social media, whether the brand is geared for it or not. Consumers expect to be served or answered promptly about their concerns. But don’t mistake that for wanting to make small talk or conversation…

#6 Ad spend should correlate with consumer time spent

No. Just No.

This argument comes up because it can, they’re two sets of data that get reported regularly and we can track their progression through time. It also comes up when an up and coming media sees a huge discrepancy between both and wants to use its huge time spent to spur more ad spend. Online did so early on, as mobile is doing now.

In reality time spent doesn’t directly correlate with real attention. Traditionally, radio has been #2 in time spent but very far behind in ad spend. Also traditionally, print newspapers have been #1 or #2 in ad spend but last or second last in terms of time spent. Yet the little time spend with a newspaper is focused on reading it – undisturbed attention. On the other hand, much of radio listening time can be attributed to background noise (music) – long gone are the days when people sat around the radio set to attentively listen to a program.

Beyond attention, there are the possible ad formats, their possible interactions and options, as well as track ability which factor into overall ad spend.

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