June 19, 2019 admin

What is the Problem With Digital Marketing? (In Nigeria?)

B Digital has been in existence for just over one month.  During that time Wayne (my partner) and I have made sales calls with 15 or so prospective customers.  We have also had conversations with some of our contacts in “corporate Nigeria.”


In almost every one of the conversations we have had, there is strong dissatisfaction with the performance of digital marketing agencies.  Most of the prospective clients are speaking of Nigeria in particular, but many also are generally unhappy with digital marketing expertise across the world.  


Since I am also new to digital marketing, I’ve been wondering why the level of satisfaction with the discipline is so low; and so much lower than the usual level of satisfaction clients have with their advertising and marketing agencies.


Initial Thoughts

One big issue, and probably the main one is that the discipline is so new.  If you think about it, there are probably more than 100,000 people in the world who have more than 20 years experience creating and producing TV advertisements.  There are likely similar numbers of people with experience in Radio, Print, Outdoor and other traditional disciplines.


In the digital area there is almost no one with more than 10 years experience.  My partner Wayne probably leads the table on this-and has been in digital 15 years-almost the entire time the field has existed.  I sometimes wonder….only half jokingly…..if he is the oldest, most experienced, digital marketing expert in the world!


The second problem I believe is the challenge of translating traditional marketing messages to digital channels.  One problem here is that prospective “digitally involved” consumers have incredibly short attention spans (and they choose you-you don’t choose them as is true with TV advertising) .  While it has always been a problem to distill the most critical information into a 30 second TV spot-the problem is exponentially magnified with the creation of a Google or Amazon ad or a Facebook post.  


Many of the people in digital marketing with a background in traditional marketing have a problem with this.  Additionally, those in digital without such a background usually don’t have the marketing experience to even understand how to construct marketing messages-let alone translate them into a format that works digitally.  


Related to this, and another issue with digital marketing, is a lack of understanding of the various communications channels.  Again, there are plenty of experienced traditional marketers that know what types of messages work best for TV vs Radio, vs Print vs Outdoor, etc.  


Many marketers do not seem to recognize how different the various digital communications channels are.  They lump them into one category; “digital.” Just like TV, Radio and other traditional channels have advantages and disadvantages, digital communications channels are different-and different messages work better in some of these channels than in others.  


Google Ads for example must be extremely short.  There is no room for more than a few words-and the objective is to be found in a search, so the prospective customer is already engaged when seeing the ad.  


Amazon represents a different marketing issue.  Customers seeing these ads are already shopping on Amazon and are ready to purchase the category.  So, the objective of an Amazon ad is to make a sale to a consumer already planning on buying the category.  


Facebook posts most often have different objectives than ads on either Google or Amazon.  In many cases the objective is to create brand awareness or discussion of a brand and its benefits within a community.  Unless of course, one is in Nigeria, where Facebook is often used in place of Google for search. (Nigeria is the only country in the world I know of where this is true.)


Instagram is a unique channel, almost all visual with virtually no opportunity for verbal communication.  One implication is that Instagram should probably be used for brands/categories where the visual appearance of the product is a one of the primary benefits (maybe very expensive skin creams, where there is a big investment in attractive packaging, or a super premium alcohol products.  I can’t think of a single marketing objective where I would use Instagram if I were a bank.)


One final thought I have had, that may explain the low satisfaction levels, is the huge gulf between the digital marketers who spend ad budgets and the “owners” of these budgets.


Most people who control ad budgets (including digital ad budgets) have been in traditional marketing a long time.  They are almost always far older than the people creating their digital marketing campaigns (at least 2 X is probably no exaggeration).  Besides the “age gulf” there is also a “life style gulf.”


After a long work day, the young digital marketer goes home and gets on his or her computer….and does whatever young people do on computers….check out Facebook, search on Google, whatever.  (Recognize that the writer of this blog does not understand the lifestyles of young digital marketers…..or young people in general!) At the same hour (or a bit earlier usually ☺) the budget owner is usually watching TV, seeing traditional advertising.  


He or she is not engaged with digital marketing while engaging in this activity.  And the young digital marketer staring at his computer or phone screen is not engaged with traditional marketing.


I noticed this when I started this company with Wayne.  I have to force myself to look at the Facebook campaigns of my own clients.  I don’t see them automatically, like I often see advertising on TV or hear it on radio in the car.  And I don’t look at them during my leisure hours.


So, bottom line, the owners of digital ad budgets are usually not very engaged with the marketing efforts they pay for their agencies to undertake.  About the only time they are engaged is when some kind of mistake is reported.


When they do look at the efforts of the digital agency, they often don’t understand why the benefits they know how to clearly communicate on TV, don’t seem survive digital efforts of their agencies.  And of course, they are highly dissatisfied!


In my short existence in this field, I have met and learned about many of my competitors in digital marketing.  From what I can see, most are extremely committed to the success of their clients. Many are brilliant, particularly in the use of technology.  All want to do a good job and all aspire to being full business partners with their clients.


Noticing this high level of commitment on the part of most digital agencies, made me wonder why the level of satisfaction with their efforts is so low.  I think the reasons above are a good part of the explanation.


Which is why Wayne and I believe we can make a big difference in the digital marketing field, marrying marketing, branding and strategy with the effective use of digital tools to achieve marketing objectives.