The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

by Kristi Moss
November 17, 2015

I still remember my first digital marketing meeting; I don’t recall the year; it was probably early 2000s. A local TV rep stopped by one day with the announcement that they were going to start selling ads on their local news website. This was long before page views, unique visitors and click-through rates became media vernacular. Her proposal was filled with excitement of the new possibilities that digital marketing brought Sioux Falls—and the “media math” showed an example advertiser and a 50% click-through rate. CPMs and any sort of value proposition or efficiency measurement had not yet worked their way into the negotiation. We didn’t know any better. We were all making the rules up as we learned together.

The reason I remember that meeting is because that was the day the light bulb came on for me; I realized that attaching ROI to mass marketing was within reach for all of us. The days of agency executives nervously dancing around the topic of ROI while simultaneously selling the indeterminate value of “branding” was in the rear view mirror. We would finally have analytical proof that our campaign babies were beautiful.

Fast forward to present day. Surely, in 15 years of digital media (the last few years which have moved at lightning speed) and living and learning through a few hundred digital campaigns, we would have cracked the code to create indisputably perfect media campaigns based on solid analytical evidence of advertising performance. Right?

Well…not exactly. But we’ve learned a few things that help us understand why we haven’t found the magic bullet of advertising quite yet. We are all still evolving and learning as we go.

The following stats provided courtesy of HubSpot are a good reminder that digital advertising is in a constant state of evolution—

  1. Display ad viewability rates did not budge between 2013 and 2014. (Source: comScore)
  2. The average click-through rate of display ads across all formats and placements is 0.06%. (Source: Display Benchmarks Tool)
  3. Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the last 12 months. (Source: PageFair)
  4. There are now 198 million active ad block users around the world. (Source: PageFair)
  5. A 2013 study revealed that 28% of respondents admitted to hiding their activities from advertisers — second only to criminals. (Source: Pew Research Center)
  6. A study revealed that only 2.8% of participants thought that ads on websites were relevant. (Source: Infolinks and
  7. A January 2014 study found that 18- to 34-year-olds were far more likely to ignore online ads, such as banners and those on social media and search engines, than they were traditional TV, radio and newspaper ads. (Source: eMarketer)
  8. About 50% of clicks on mobile ads are accidental. (Source: GoldSpot Media)
  9. 54% of users don’t click banner ads because they don’t trust them. (Source: BannerSnack)
  10. 33% of Internet users find display ads completely intolerable. (Source: Adobe)

It strikes me that even with all of the changes in technology, many marketing fundamentals are still true. Creative and content are still king. The message matters more than ever, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Digital? Traditional? It’s All Media.

Creating Content People Care About