How Advertising Has Evolved

(with Greg Stuart)

How Advertising Has Evolved
Greg Stuart is an author and investment advisor. He is the CEO of MMA Global, the leading industry-body focused on architecting the future of marketing. During his time at MMA, Greg and his team have driven 400% revenue growth and energized the MMA’s 800+ member companies globally. 

Greg is also the co-author of the book, What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds. In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how we can be better marketers and how advertising has evolved. 

Key Takeaways

In today’s episode, we will cover the following key takeaways:

  1. As marketers, we should focus on the long term relationship and lifetime value of each customer. 
  2. We have to be careful to respect the customer’s time.  
  3. There are constantly new trends in the marketplace and shifts in consumer behaviour; we should be aware of these shifts so we can adjust our marketing efforts accordingly. 

Saving Marketers 

Sometimes, the things we do as marketers or advertisers can be viewed as manipulative or coercive. There are cases in which marketers violate a customers’ trust and unfortunately, these actions hurt all marketers, not just that company or brand. So, how can we be better? How do we get our customers’ attention without being manipulative? 

I think one of the key things we have to do is focus on the long term relationship and lifetime value of each customer, rather than focusing on the transaction. When we treat our customers as real people, our marketing methods will feel more honest. 

Over his career, Greg has found that many marketers don’t really know what they’re doing so they end up making things up. Marketing can be full of people who think they know how consumers receive and understand information, but they don’t. There was a documentary that called an assumption like this the “unknown known.” Those are things we believe to be true, that simply aren’t fact. 

At MMA, Greg tries to help marketers be better than they are, and really understand some of these unknown knowns. “Marketing should be the number one driver of growth, and we need to treat that investment respectfully,” Greg said. As marketers, our brand and company relies on us. This is why so many companies have massive marketing budgets. It is our responsibility to put in the time and research to understand how our ideal customers consume content so we can resonate with them and build trust instead of destroying it.

How Advertising_Blog (3)

Removing Pop-up Ads and Creating an Industry Standard

When I asked Greg to share his greatest home run, he said it was working with the Interactive Advertising Bureau. While he was there, he had the opportunity to stop pop-up ads. 

Pop-up ads are often more annoying to customers than not. A pop-up ad appears on the customer’s screen without permission, blocking what they are trying to do. It is a way of interrupting what the customer is doing and shouting for attention. Instead of giving our brand more attention, the ad often hurts our reputation as we’re “stealing” our customers’ attention when they don’t want to give it to us. 

“I was really particularly proud of [removing pop-up ads] because it was just an example of consumer annoyance that we could deal with,” Greg said. “I got the whole industry to agree to stop doing pop-ups in the way we’re doing, which, back in the early 2000s. was a huge problem.”

Instead of running pop-up ads, we can put ads on the sideline of the website, so it will only catch the customer’s attention if they are interested in it. We can run ads on social media as the customer can still scroll past it if they aren’t interested. Too many times we disrespect the consumers time with our ads and we should take an opportunity to change this. 

Another home run Greg had was changing the industry standard for how advertising currency worked. There’s a point at which a buyer buys something and a seller sells something. At the time, this was called an impression. They ran a study with PWC and found that impression count swings from servers (working the same campaign) could vary from plus 100% to minus 50%. This meant that if a marketer bought $10 million of internet advertising, they could get an outcome worth anywhere from $20-$5 million.

Greg stepped in and worked with 27 ad servers around the world, including Yahoo and Microsoft and got them all to agree on an industry standard. This meant there was now only a 15% swing. As a digital industry, they chose to make sure exactly the moment that an ad got delivered, we call that viewability. 

Adjusting to the Internet 

In Greg’s book, he mentions that 47% of the advertising campaigns he studied didn’t work. They failed. That is nearly half of all campaigns. Why did this happen? 

“It failed, in part, because marketers had all sorts of quaint notions about how advertising marketing would work based on decades of experience and other media that they had translated to the Internet age,” Greg said. “I think it was a failure to recognize their own limitations. It was a failure to have a good measurement.”

Essentially, so many campaigns failed because they didn’t understand how the internet worked differently than previous mediums such as television or radio ads. They didn’t take the time to understand the business tectonic shift of the internet before they ran their campaigns. 

While most marketers now know how to navigate the internet, there are constantly new trends and shifts in the marketplace, and we should be aware that these shifts can affect the way we market. For example, video marketing has become extremely popular and we have started to see new social media marketing concepts such as influencer marketing. Instead of launching a campaign on a new medium with little research, we should take the time to really understand how it works. 

In the early 2000s, nobody had any real experience working with internet ads and instead of taking the time to pre-test ads and run research, they made things up and hoped for the best. We should never do this. We should run different test campaigns, research different topics, look at what our competitors are doing, etc. 

Before the internet, customers were focused to listen to an entire ad. If they were on the radio, they couldn’t skip through an advertisement to continue their talkshow. If they were watching TV, they couldn’t skip the ads to continue their show. They had nothing else to do but watch the commercial. 

Now, customers aren’t forced to watch an ad until the end like they did before. On the internet, there is very little time a consumer will devote to an ad. The consumers’ viewing behaviour has changed. We have to ask ourselves, what can we do in the first second to get the consumer to pay attention? 

“We saw ads that would completely fail because you would wait seven or six seconds to see the end of the ad to find out the logo,” Greg said. “We had to start to really rethink and . . . teach brands and marketers to think differently about how they create ads because this environment is totally different.”

When marketers were first adjusting to the internet, Greg saw many ads fail because they put their logo at the end of their ad. Many of their viewers didn’t watch until the end so they never even saw the brand the ad was for. Greg ran a study and found that there was an increase in performance by putting the brand logo early in the ad. 

Consumers’ behaviour is constantly changing. If we want to have successful ad and marketing campaigns, we have to do the research and run the tests to find what works and doesn’t. While we may understand marketing on the internet, there are constant evolving trends we should be aware of if we want to have continual success. 

Connect with Greg

Thank you so much Greg for sharing your stories and insights with us today. To learn more about or connect with Greg:

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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