There's plenty wrong with digital marketing, but too many of us are too quick to point the finger of blame at others.
Sure, ad fraud is a very serious issue, and it's one we need to fix soon. But the percentage 'viewability' of ads really isn't our biggest problem when so many people in our audiences are using ad-blockers to ensure they see 0% of our ads.
Similarly, yes, we need better metrics and measurement too. But a 10% improvement in reporting isn't going to deliver a meaningful improvement in ROI if we're still interrupting people with crap ads.
Let's be honest: if our marketing activities actually added value to our audience's lives, people would be actively seeking our marketing out.
If people really cared about the ads we produce, they'd be actively scrolling to get 100% of our creative in view, and we'd be sure they saw 'enough' of the ad, because they'd act on it.
If people really cared about the content we produce, they'd watch the whole video, and we wouldn't need to argue about whether 3, 10, or 30 seconds qualifies as a 'more valid' measure.
More importantly, if we consistently produced and delivered marketing that people genuinely cared about, we wouldn't need to keep spending disproportionate amounts of money on paid media placements for every activity, because we'd have built sufficient enduring interest and audience trust that people would proactively visit our owned properties to engage with those activities, and choose to tell other people about them, too.
But all of this depends on you.
You are responsible for putting in the time and effort to understand what your audiences want, need, and desire, and you are responsible for creating meaningful marketing that addresses those needs and motivations.
Of course, partners and third-parties can help you with that, but you – as the brand custodian – must take full responsibility for ensuring that the marketing you're delivering ultimately adds meaningful value to your audience.
So, if you want to improve your ROI, take back control.
Stop delivering activities that don't truly engage you, because if they don't engage you, they won't engage anyone.
Stop investing in activities if you have any doubts about whether they're working for your brand, regardless of the industry hype that surrounds them.
Stop measuring marketing effectiveness in terms of media or content performance – reach, views, likes, etc. – and start measuring genuine brand impact instead.
And most importantly, stop working with partners or vendors that you don't trust.
Address the things that are within your control first, and there's a good chance you'll find that there's no need to point fingers anymore.
That goes for all marketing, not just digital.
Simon is the Founder of Kepios, a strategy consultancy that helps business leaders and marketers make sense of the future, especially digital and connected devices. He is a marketing strategist specialising in the future of digital. He has developed brand and marketing strategies for many of the world’s most admired companies, including Unilever, Google, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Diageo. His marketing books, guides, videos, and reports have been read and watched by millions of people in more than 100 countries around the world. CMO Asia magazine lists him as one of Asia’s "Most Influential Digital Marketers.” He appears regularly on television and in the media to discuss digital and social media, brands, and marketing strategy. Simon holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Modern Languages, First Class Honours from the University of Strathclyde.