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The Problem with Digital

Digital offers total transparency; clear as daylight analytics, diaphanous data, noticeable numbers. Beyond the days of “50% of my budget works, if only I knew which half” 🤷🏻‍♀, we can now clearly see exactly where our money is going, and what the return on it is.


Except we can’t.


(Annoying, isn’t it? 🙄)



All too often, we lose sight of the immeasurable factors of branding and marketing. Things like awareness, alignment, emotion...


We may be using robotic functions to help enhance our work with the brand output, but at the end of the day, we are still dealing with humans.

Sure, you can measure a 5% engagement rate on an Instagram post, but did you really engage with your audience? What were they saying? Who were they tagging? What was the sentient?*


And, with the amount of thumb-scrolling we’re doing these days, how much value does one emoji comment really possess? The way an impression is calculated by the main social media network sites accounts for nothing, given the fraction of a second they scrolled past your post amidst all the other clutter out there.


“[Data and measurement tools] have fed the monster of the archetypal chief financial officer because they can see how [marketing activity] is measuring. That’s partly what may have put more downward pressure on marketing because it’s about delivering short-term results once you have proven it.”

(Philip Mehl, CMO at First Abu Dhabi Bank - https://www.marketingweek.com/2017/01/30/marketing-effectiveness-roundtable/)


It’s the real-life brand perceptions and human emotion that are so important and yet escaping our data nets – and therefore often making it harder to sign off on budgets that don’t have a solid conversion forecast estimated against them. These long-term legacies which are immeasurable and harder to quantify end up standing the test of time.


One only has to look at some of the classic media to see how they’re being celebrated and perpetuated in our now-digital world; the infamous “Diet Coke Break” ad, the pared back minimalism of 90s Calvin Klein, the Milk Tray man, the iconic Chryslers in emblematic American 50s settings… I could go on. These were all produced with brand storytelling and emotive provocation at their heart.


References to these exemplary campaigns can be seen for yourself on Instagram today, still celebrated by these pesky millennials. The reinvigorated #mycalvins social campaign, for example, garnered 520k uses of the hashtag. Sure, new life was breathed into it thanks to Miss-Midas-Touch Kendall Jenner, fellow supermodel Gigi, and Biebz himself, proving the power of influencers coupled with the nostalgia of an iconic brand from the 90s.


Marketing is a careful blend of numbers and creativity. Digital is fantastic, but in an ever-growing and noisy marketplace, unquantifiable traits such as authenticity, emotion and storytelling are what will make you stand out - and stay in people's minds.


So, next time your Finance Manager asks why you spent £10k on a 20-ft billboard, just forward them this article 😉


(*More technological advances in the form of AI will help with this, although we are still a long way off from having a practical and easy-to-implement solution here. Give it a year.)

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