Dr Sharp: Digital ad targeting has been oversold

Ehrenberg-Bass institute director also suggests marketers have rushed to digital advertising without understanding what they're buying and it's time for a rethink

Dr Byron Sharp
Dr Byron Sharp

The value of precision targeting in advertising has been massively oversold and there’s still a need for mass market campaigning, Dr Byron Sharp claims.

Speaking on the latest episode of the AANA’s Marketing Dividends program on Sky Business TV, the director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia Business School took aim at the way digital marketers have narrowed their focus through personalisation, and pointed out the biggest brands in the world were built through reaching out to broader markets.

“The lure of precision targeting has been massively oversold,” Dr Sharp said. “Marketing science clearly states we need to reach all categories of buyers, and the value of targeting smaller segments is actually far less effective.

“The ability of these new media to even deliver on targeting is far less than what is promised.”

Dr Sharp also criticised the way digital giants such as YouTube, Facebook and Google have been evaluating their own effectiveness, noting that it’s the equivalent of a TV station running its own rating scheme.

“Marketers were originally sold the idea that in digital, there will be these fantastic trustworthy metrics,” he commented. “Digital was given a ‘get out of jail free card’ for too long.”

As an example, Dr Sharp noted the current backlash and boycott against YouTube for placing ads against inappropriate and extreme content. As well as suggesting it wasn’t as big an issue as was being made out, he again suggested the problem was that marketers have been motivated by money rather than brand safety.

“The problem with digital has been it’s fashionable, people have rushed like lemmings to the edge of the cliff and thrown huge amounts of money at something without fully knowing what they are buying,” he said.

The latest scandals should trigger a pulling back on digital, a flight to quality and demand for metrics that are trustworthy, Dr Sharp said.

“The current YouTube scandal we have at the moment, has given marketers permission to pull back and say ‘maybe we don’t know what we are buying here. Maybe we’re spending billions of dollars of shareholder money and maybe we should be more circumspect,” he added.

But for Dr Sharp, the key to winning over consumers is to get in front of consumers more often.

“The biggest mistake that marketers make is that they forget they’re in a battle for physical and mental availability,” he said. “Marketers think the primary issues holding their brands back are some sort of attitude problem or that their brand isn’t loved enough. In reality, consumers just aren’t thinking of the brand enough.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Great piece Katja. It will be fascinating to see how the shift in people's perception of value will affect design, products and services ...

Paul Scott

How to design for a speculative future - Customer Design - CMO Australia

Read more

Google collects as much data as it can about you. It would be foolish to believe Google cares about your privacy. I did cut off Google fr...

Phil Davis

ACCC launches fresh legal challenge against Google's consumer data practices for advertising

Read more

“This new logo has been noticed and it replaces a logo no one really knew existed so I’d say it’s abided by the ‘rule’ of brand equity - ...

Lawrence

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

IMHO a logo that needs to be explained really doesn't achieve it's purpose.I admit coming to the debate a little late, but has anyone els...

JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

Hi everyone! Hope you are doing well. I just came across your website and I have to say that your work is really appreciative. Your conte...

Rochie Grey

Will 3D printing be good for retail?

Read more

Blog Posts

How to design for a speculative future

For a while now, I have been following a fabulous design strategy and research colleague, Tatiana Toutikian, a speculative designer. This is someone specialising in calling out near future phenomena, what the various aspects of our future will be, and how the design we create will support it.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

The obvious reason Covidsafe failed to get majority takeup

Online identity is a hot topic as more consumers are waking up to how their data is being used. So what does the marketing industry need to do to avoid a complete loss of public trust, in instances such as the COVID-19 tracing app?

Dan Richardson

Head of data, Verizon Media

Brand or product placement?

CMOs are looking to ensure investment decisions in marketing initiatives are good value for money. Yet they are frustrated in understanding the value of product placements within this mix for a very simple reason: Product placements are broadly defined and as a result, mean very different things to different people.

Michael Neale and Dr David Corkindale

University of Adelaide Business School and University of South Australia

Sign in