Marketing is out of touch with reality. Can we fix it?

5 december 2016
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The marketing industry recently received some sobering news. A study commissioned by Thinkbox reported a significant disconnect between people working in the industry, and those with whom they are communicating. Its summary is clear:

“We’re in the privileged position of being at the forefront of technological change within this industry. (….) Unfortunately for us, it’s all too easy to think everyone else is the same.” 

Indeed, the results show marketers are completely out-of-sync with ‘normal’ people:

  • Marketers overestimate the time people spent watching video on other devices by a factor of 18.
  • Marketers overestimate the time people spend on Video-on-Demand (VoD) devices by a factor of 10.
  • Marketers overestimate the time people spend multi-screening by a factor of 2.5.
  • Marketers themselves spend 3 times more time on social media or VoD devices than ordinary people.

Interestingly, the study reported both groups perceived television not only as the most trustworthy medium, but also as the most impactful on a variety of relevant business criteria: a re-iteration of what Les Binet and Peter Field proved several years back in their excellent research on the IPA-cases databank (published as The Long and Short of It) – and very much in line with what Nielsen reports in their Total Audience Reports.

And yet we see a steady increase in expenditure on online advertising – and estimates are that it will surpass TV spend soon. Why?

Decades of research may have reached the desks of marketers, but certainly not their brains.

By which I mean research about actual buying behaviour. Andrew Ehrenberg pioneered this work in the late fifties and Professor Byron Sharp’s book How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know provides an excellent and up-to-date summary of this body of knowledge.

Mark Ritson and Bob Hoffman also frequently and explicitly express concerns about marketers’ disconnection from the real world. Hoffman wrote a book titled ‘Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey’. Ritson recently reported only 3% of the 2016 Rio Olympics were not viewed on a television, calling digital video a ‘tsunami of horseshit’.

I can’t help but think of the Allegory Of The Cave, written 2400 years ago by the Greek philosopher Plato. He believed most people could think, act and speak without any awareness of the true nature of things.

Plato describes a group of prisoners that have spent their whole life, chained, in a cave. A fire burns behind them. They cannot move their heads, and all they can see is the wall at the other end of the cave. Between them and the fire, puppeteers are casting shadows of objects they hold in their hands.

Plato asks the question:

And if they could talk to one another, don’t you think they’d suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them?”

 

Bron en Volledig Bericht: Wiemer Snijders

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