There have always been two schools of thought on digital marketing, which have uneasily but pragmatically sat next to each other. Digital communications is becoming an exciting mash-up of marketing and math. Strategy and creativity are more important than ever, while at the same time data-driven campaigns that deliver against solid business metrics are what every marketer wants.
One view of digital is that it is an extension of direct marketing, and that it can deliver significant measurable ROI through precise targeting, data mining, and by statistically examining the outcomes of the use of various combinations of media, target audiences, creative presentation, commercial offers and response mechanisms. This view has been promoted by e-mail solutions providers, platforms with pay-per-click models, and other businesses with the technology to provide in-depth data sets and analysis. One example: with Google Search, a marketer could (at least theoretically)justify an infinite advertising budget if the numbers demonstrated that if you invest a dollar, you get $1.05 back. Presumably you would never stop buying more search ads with that rate of return. I recently saw a hopelessly complex formula to calculate the revenue that can be generated by an airline using online advertising: Rf([Px Ax N x G] x [S x C] x [D]) x [Ym]. Whew! For those who might care, the formula says that revenue is a function of: [Page Views x Adsize x Number of ads/page x Geographic locale] x [Seasonality x Content Channel] x [Number of Days after the month end that ad payments are received] x [Yield management – ad feed management]. This is perhaps an extreme case of trying to turn the marketer’s craft into a science of certainty, and in this scenario, cold hard math is the sole arbiter of a campaign’s success.