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08 March 2018

Ritson: Marketers Shift Ever More Money Into Digital Despite All Evidence To The Contrary

A new report by Ebiquity reveals that advertisers are not getting return on online investment, radio and news media are hugely undervalued and it’s time to re-evaluate media decisions. 

Professor Mark Ritson’s analysis of the new study commissioned by the RadioCentre demonstrates that “marketers are clueless about media effectiveness” and “divorced from reality” when evaluating which media channels perform best. 

Writing in Marketing Week, Ritson argues that: “Media like radio and newspapers are dismissed far too easily by marketers, who need to open their minds to the real possibilities that these fantastic channels can offer.”

He said that “it is clear that digital media in general gets far too much credit for delivering an ROI versus its actual performance.” In contrast, news media were perceived as having little impact on ROI when “in reality, they offer some of the most significant campaign lifts for those clients that can look beyond the bullshit of the ‘death’ of news media and see both the continued potential of print advertising – the campaign of the year so far, KFC’s FCK ad, was a newspaper ad, lest we forget – and the growing potential of premium digital news media ads.”

The study examined how marketers think various media channels perform against 12 requirements, ranging from return on investment to triggering an emotional response and increasing brand salience, and compares these perceptions against hard evidence of their actual performance.

Ebiquity’s Morag Blazey said: “At Ebiquity alarm bells have been ringing for some time. Our analytics work is repeatedly showing that advertisers are not getting return on online investment and our concerns about transparency in programmatic advertising have been well documented.”

She said: “Our findings reveal that it’s time for the industry to re-evaluate media decisions to optimise advertising budgets.”

Ritson points out that marketers clearly think that online video vies with TV and cinema for emotional depth and engagement but “the small screen, fleeting attention and often distracting context for consumption lead to it performing dead-last in terms of generating an emotional response.”

Brand salience was becoming more important as smart marketers recognise the weakness of brands and ask whether their brand is even noticed before moving on to how it is perceived. TV had managed to maintain a steadfast claim that it is the single best way to get your brand noticed but “newspapers still set the tone for much of the country and are a great way to propel your brand into the national consciousness, but marketers don’t see it that way.” 

Overall, weighing all 12 attributes in terms of perception, the top three channels are TV, online video and social media. 

“But it’s the evidence-based performance table that should stun marketers,” said Ritson. “TV retains its dominant position… But then look at the next top performers according to the actual performance data. 

“Radio and news media offer significant superiority over social media and online video on the issues that matter most to marketers. And yet radio can only hope for a flat line in terms of advertising spend this year and news media would be happy, I’ll bet, to lose 10% of its share of the advertising pie in 2018. 

“Meanwhile the digital revolution continues in this country. Marketers and agencies continue to move more and more of their ad spend across to social media and online video despite all the evidence to the contrary.”