Voltaire once said, “If you would like to converse with me, define your terms.” He would have never made a career as a digital marketing guru.
However, if digital marketing is ever to mature into a serious enterprise (it is not), we need to return to Voltaire, because defining terms is the core digital problem. For any communication endeavor to succeed, there needs to be some consensus of what we’re talking about (there is not).
Digerati like to say, “Nobody gets it!” Gets what? That’s what we need to figure out.
Marketing today is an enormous enterprise. Global media spending is over $400 billion and close to 1% of global GDP. Total marketing expenditures are harder to measure, but they’re probably about double that. It’s not unusual for large companies to allocate 10% of revenues to marketing and budgets of over $100 million are amazingly common.
But those are just numbers. To truly understand the problem, imagine what you have to do to promote a product in the US. There are over 150 TV markets and more than 200 radio markets, each with different demographic, ethnic, content and lifestyle characteristics. Even a fairly simple targeting scheme needs to take into account each one of these factors in every market.
To meet these challenges, traditional media agencies have evolved into highly optimized machines. Marketing concepts are broken down into actionable briefs. Literally hundreds of people must dance to the same tune while they plan, implement, monitor and evaluate campaigns that must perform flawlessly.
Success is measured in minuscule changes of market share that represent exorbitant amounts of money. Even a small error can mean catastrophe.