My Media New Year’s Resolutions

JimIt’s that time of year when promises are made to one’s self that portend the improvement of that self. A pledge to forestall the pleasures of the present you in order to benefit the future you.

But as always these promises are hard to keep. Either because they are unrealistically ambitious or because they are easy to break, our resolutions go lately unrealized with only a brief waft of guilt passing our noses.

So here are my three resolutions for coming year in media and marketing. My I keep them chastise myself appropriately – a gentle lashing with a wet noodle of guilt borne of the breaking of promises to one’s self.

1. I resolve to believe mobile advertising has a future. To look at Facebook’s numbers and the continued proliferation of platforms delivering mobile advertising, the mature emergence of mobile advertising is a fait accompli. The larger screens of smartphones should mean an improved user experience. Things like geofencing and location-based advertising rely on a robust mobile advertising infrastructure and that infrastructure is in place.

But most of Facebook’s mobile spend numbers are built on app download money. Not sure how any Clash of Clans there is to keep that going. And people using smartphones with larger screens are after better content experiences, not better advertising experiences. And geolocational ads are primarily offer driven retail, something that requires a competent of what we used to call “recency” on the part of the recipient in order to be really effective. Mobile delivery systems are not in position to identify recency, yet.

However, I shouldn’t be a doubter. I must embrace the future as it emerges. Or embrace William Gibson’s precept, paraphrased as: “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed, yet.” Because I do not doubt everything we used to call “computing” or “interactive” or “digital” is going to be manifest on whatever is a mobile device. Even if I’ve some doubts about advertising on it.

2. I resolve to believe programmatic can be used for branding. The mad dash for cheaper, faster, standardized digital ad buying and delivery has largely been to the benefit of direct response advertising. A focus on performance has meant ‘countable’ performance. Programmatic has been a way to coordinate data sets, inventory sources, and transactional processes in an automated way to Googlify display advertising. All of this pushed online display inventory into a space in the funnel that rests somewhere just before search.

But you don’t get any bottom-of-funnel activity without top-of-funnel activity (or pipe or tube or squiggly line for McKinsey or whatever). There must be prospecting. And there must be a place to prospect. And that body of prospects is a larger population than the bit that’s ready to buy. You need branding of some kind to get consideration for prospecting and ultimately, conversion, to even happen. Cheaper, faster, and more standardized automated media planning and buying will contributed to branding. By tying brand metric data sets that are loaded into DMPs, inventory will be matched them.

I don’t know how actionable brand metrics will be gleaned, normalized, on boarded, and used for purposes of optimization against those metrics in near real time. But I resolve to believe it’s possible. And I resolve to believe that when it’s all said and done the most effective means of branding will be more than just contextual relevance or placement affinity with brand, product, and target. That the stuff marketers have always known about effective advertising will somehow be enhanced overturned by the use of programmatic brand advertising.

3. I resolve to believe that something will really be done about viewability this year. Not the fake viewability that some agencies talk about when they say they only want to pay for ads people have seen. I mean real viewability, the kind that refers to it being physically capable of seeing an ad. Delivering and charging for ads that don’t actually appear on the screen is tantamount to fraud. Unfortunately its proliferation is made all the ore possible by the increasing automation of our processes. But then if we can build the machines to find and deliver the ads we can build the machines to be sure those ads are real.

Now it’s time to hit the gym, drink only on weekends, and be less sarcastic with my wife.

Jim Meskauskas is a co-founder and Chief Strategic Officer of Media Darwin, a consultancy specializing in strategic planning of commercial communicative action. He’s a medialogist who has spent the last 20 years living, breathing and thinking about how to use media to move people to action. Outside of that, his likes are horror movies, Southeast Asian cuisine, his wife and his cat — not necessarily in that order. His dislikes are mean people, people who text while walking in or out of the subway entrances, pestilence, war, famine and death.