For years now I have been spouting off about the wrong-headedness of online "precision targeting" versus mass media.
In 2012, in a post called Either Facebook Is Nuts Or I Am, I wrote...
"Big brands need big reach, not the diminishing returns of finer and finer targeting...They (Facebook) needs to forget about "precision targeting." It's bullshit and it's not working...They need to sell reach."In 2013, in a post called The Hidden Danger Of Precision Targeting I wrote...
"One of the great benefits of mass media is that it lacks precision targeting. It reaches all the users in your category, including the users of your competitor's brand."In 2014, I wrote The Power Of Sloppy
"Have you ever wondered how McDonald's and Coca-Cola and Nike and Toyota and Apple and all the other enormous worldwide brands became successful? For one thing, they were sloppy. They had to be. They didn't have big data or precision targeting. They couldn't punch a key and immediately identify left-handed Lutheran dry cleaners who rode recumbent bicycles. So they had to use mass media and talk to everyone. Not only did they not suffer for it, they prospered from it."In 2015, in a post entitled "What If Targeting Doesn't Work" I wrote,
"What if all the 'precision targeting' we do is mostly unnecessary complexity masquerading as knowledge? "Earlier this year, in Waste Not, Grow Not, I wrote
"We are thinking like direct marketers, not brand marketers. We are ineffectually using 'precision targeting' to try to engage the perfect individual, and by eschewing mass media we are harming our brand in three ways.
1. We are not reaching those within our target segment who are not active on line or whose data we haven't mined.
2. We are not reaching the unexpected...buyers, of whom there are legions.
3. We are not building a brand. Mass media advertising may be "wasteful" by the nearsighted standards of digital and direct marketers. However, some very wise people have pointed out that the nature of what we call "waste" may, in fact, be the very stuff that brands are built on."And then there was this.
This week, my years of aberrant ranting finally got some vindication when The Wall Street Journal ran a story entitled "P&G To Scale Back Targeted Facebook Ads"
"Procter & Gamble Co., the biggest advertising spender in the world, will move away from ads on Facebook that target specific consumers, concluding that the practice has limited effectiveness.
Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief marketing officer, said the company has realized it took the strategy too far. 'We targeted too much, and we went too narrow'
P&G could be the bellwether on how consumer goods companies and big brands use digital advertising. Over the past year some marketers, specifically consumer product companies, have discovered they need to go 'much more broad' with their advertising "I hate to be the one to say "I told you so"...wait a minute. No I don't.