During the Hermitage, Use Only Proven Marketing Techniques

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We have suddenly been thrust into a "hermitage." This, of course, means the period of coronavirus-related social distancing we're experiencing. Jack Myers has projected $3 billion to $11 billion contraction in U.S. media advertising revenue per year over the next five years, as a result.

When advertisers pull back during a war, they lose long-term share to the advertisers that stay around. And that's what this is: a war. We are being attacked by foes too small to see. So, staying home has become a popular first line of defense. We thought we were seeing insanely fast change before, but this period of isolation and quarantine is accelerating media consumption. There will be higher consumption of free home entertainment, not just news, which will grow revenues the most.

The shrinkage that Myers projects is a pullback in marketing, which has always seemed like the fluffiest, least defensible thing to most C-suites. As such, it's often among the first line items they cut.

Why would they think marketing is fluffy? Because it is known to use unproven techniques that would never happen in any other part of a corporation.

The media that will thrive in the hermitage, besides news and free TV, will be those that have been proven to specific advertisers. These media brands will not lose those advertisers. In fact, they will gain more advertisers and thrive because those media make sure there is proof of performance and results.

The fluffy ones will suffer.

On the brand side, who shall thrive and who shall suffer?

Marketers who depend on proven data will align with the proven media in a win/win partnership, through which all will thrive. Because they believe in and deliver proof of performance, those marketers will thrive during this period of hermitage.

Marketers who have not validated the data and methods they depend on will suffer.

The best way to prove validation to the C-suite is by pointing to cash-register measures that line up perfectly with marketing science; i.e., showing the money. Marketers who do that will thrive. Marketers whose numbers do not align with the actual known sales, who do not pretest an idea and then scale up Darwinianly, will suffer.

We've been relying on unvalidated audience and efficacy measurements — the best of it is audited, but not validated — for too long. Companies that have sought actual third-party validation are still rare. But when things are tight, methods have to be tight.

I recommend that you rate your methods one by one and rank them by how dubious they are. From there, decide where to cut. And then reinvest in tighter, more proven methods that have been confirmed by a disinterested third party — preferably more than one.

Look forward to tight, new initiatives from the ARF and the other forward-leading collaboration platforms. In my mind, these moves will fall under the rubric proven: "Profiting from Rigorous Operations, Validation Empirical Natural."

Why natural? To signify that the main data type will be naturally occurring, such as set-top-box data, log files, and frequent shopper cards. The objective will be to validate the data against what the company knows its true sales to be.

And with the validated data types, and validated techniques for creative/media planting and harvesting, marketers will never again be perceived as fluffy — except in our long tail.

Don't stop now! Stay in the know on advertising trends and ROI strategies with more from Bill Harvey.

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