Although there is little hard evidence that Lord Leverhulme ever said it at all; that famous 100-year-old adage saying “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half” seems even more at odds with today’s marketing desire for personalisation, hyper-targeting, and the segmentation of data into the thinnest of slices.

Common sense tells us that a targeted ad will always be more effective than an untargeted ad. After all, it doesn’t make sense to advertise dog food to a cat owner. Or does it?

My point being, personally, I don’t just want to be targeted by what an algorithm thinks I want to see. In the same way, I don’t always want to drink Amstel or holiday on the Algarve.

But audience wastage is now in real danger of becoming a thing of the past. Something to be sneered at. Very much a by-product of the “Opt-in” culture surrounding GDPR. Lessons learned and not to be repeated etc. But is wastage really that bad?

Another quote, attributed to Rory Sutherland, is “Highly targeted advertising merely finds customers, less well targeted advertising can actually create customers”

And that’s the thing, as traditional media strives to behave like digital’s “rifle shot” accuracy, aren’t they giving up the one thing they are good at delivering: “machine gun” coverage?

We take the view that minimising wastage is desirable but not if it results in access to your brand becoming like an ultra-exclusive members club that new audiences just cannot gain entry too.

It’s an interesting debate but, remember, no one should be saying you can’t or shouldn’t do both.

Now, that would be a waste!


Duncan Collins




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