You might know the old adage: “50 per cent of my marketing works, I just don’t know which 50.” CEO & Chief Storyteller Mark Jones explains that today, it’s no longer “which 50” but “both 50.”
What’s the biggest shift that’s taken place in your industry?
That was the question a friend asked me recently, and then it hit me. It’s no longer “which 50” but “both 50.”
To explain, this is the old adage: “50 per cent of my marketing works, I just don’t know which 50.” It’s a great line, and it’s now been relegated to history.
Track with me for a moment. Back in the late 1990s, this whole web/digital/mobile universe was just a glimmer on the marketing radar. These were the days when companies sent out “look at my new website!” press releases and made strategic decisions about launching an email newsletter for the first time.
Print, TV and radio advertising was still in full swing and everyone got very excited about the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows and Office juggernauts. No cloud, no virtualisation, no digital strategies, no firehose of Twitter data, no social engagement, and forget about programmatic – up there with rainbows and unicorns.
They really were the days when marketers knew 50 percent of their marketing was effective, but they just didn’t know which 50. Take magazine publishing for example. In trade publishing land where I lived as a humble tech journalist and editor, readership surveys came out every 6 months, which meant the data was up to 12 months old if you factor in the additional 3-6 months it took to conduct research and plonk down a weighty research period.
TV, radio and outdoor advertisers had issues too. Non-existent or immature websites, combined with the fact Google was only founded in 1998, meant offline to online sales conversion tracking was a theory, at best. Not even a sprinkling of magic marketing pixie dust could fix that one.
Fast forward to our digital, multichannel media world and marketers have an entirely different outlook.
With a hat tip to my friends at Which-50, these really are the days of “both 50.” Call it my shorthand for a marketing budget that many marketers still crudely split into two big buckets: advertising spend, and everything else. That is, communications, events, PR, social, content, SEO, websites, UX, useless t-shirts, bumper stickers and so on.
The days of tolerating ambiguity, poor measurement, or guesswork don’t fly, and haven’t for quite a few years now. To illustrate my point, have a look at the rise of “attribution marketing” on Google Trends over the past 12 months – steady progress from bottom left to top right.
This story, I’d like to suggest, is the marketer’s equivalent of having their cake and eating it. Not that you can blame them, I should add. CFOs want to see clear evidence of marketing spend pouring into the top of the funnel and churning glorious revenue streams out the bottom. It’s that simple, and that hard.
That’s why I find the martech and adtech startup world so fascinating. Thousands of companies are out there beavering away on different micro parts of this marketing attribution puzzle. The Stackie Awards is one of the best visual illustrations of how this works. Check out Microsoft’s martech stack, for example:
A continuous loop mapped around the buyer journey illustrates how Microsoft has connected its martech and adtech ecosystem. Look at all the interconnected systems and platforms, each representing a team of innovators cooking up better ways of figuring out how the giant marketing attribution world works.
Of course no stack is perfect – just like the startup companies themselves.
But if you step back, it’s pause for thought. We’ve come a long way, and we’ve got ever further to go as the world of AI, wearable tech and augmented reality reshape the marketing world yet again. If the hype is true, Apple’s forthcoming iOS update and plans for a lucrative new augmented reality platform will prompt yet another rethink.
If, like me, you’re constantly looking for the grey matter that lies between black and white, both 50 is a sign of amazing things to come.