For those of you who haven’t read it, Fred Wilson’s original post about marketing and his follow-up bug report are required reading. Two posts generating over 800 comments show that Fred clearly struck a chord.
Personally having spent the last 15 years in the advertising industry and recently having made the jump to digital communications here at Horn Group, it definitely struck a chord with me as well. But a different chord than what I read in most of the comments and in Mike Duda’s response I don’t think the issue is that Fred hasn’t seen the value of good advertising/marketing I think he has actuallystruggled with the same issue that has plagued the industry since before John Wanamaker famously said “I know half of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half”. The issue is linking the effect of the advertising/marketing directly back to the business results and goal of the company.
In the last 20 years as the discipline of Account Planning has spread rapidly through the American advertising agency landscape, the desperate drive to prove ROI has yielded some fairly skin-deep solutions. Many of the industry's brands track brand awareness, brand affinity, intention to buyand they spend large quantities of money with bigcompanies like Millward Brown to report back these data points and potential ways to affect them.
But very little headway has been made linking “the last mile” to borrow a telecommunications term. The ability to tie these metrics back to the actual metrics that CEOs/VCs really care about at the end of the day (leads, sales, growth, etc) has not been accomplished. So essentially, as an industry, we have left ourselves incapable of defending ourselves to attacks like Fred’s. Thankfully most of the client-marketing world chooses to turn a blind eye to this weakness.
So the challenge is who can solve this link first? In our increasingly connected digital world there is a constant increase in trackable metrics. It is becoming a “metrics arms race” and whoever lands on the moon first will arm themselves with a considerable weapon on the business development front.