March 26, 2012

Opinions About Everything, Knowledge About Nothing

I had a disconcerting, but not unexpected, experience last week. I taught a workshop on advertising creativity to a group of 30 advertising people.

These people were all employed at agencies. They were mostly working in account service and media departments. They were a very bright, young, engaged, and attentive group.

Unfortunately, for the most part, they were very much like the current crop of veteran advertising people -- they had opinions about everything and knowledge about nothing.

In the course of the 1 1/2 hour discussion I was shocked by how little they knew about the realities of the ad business.
  • Not one of them knew the average click-through rate for display advertising. The consensus of the group over-estimated the CTR by a factor of ten.
  • Not one knew a single critical fact about DVR usage -- what percent of the population owns a DVR; what percent of viewing among DVR owners is live versus recorded; what percent of ads are being missed by ad skipping. 
It is a sad fact of life that many of the people working in advertising today are not even interested enough to find these things out.

They read the nonsense that is published in trade magazines and blogs, they hear the baloney that is spouted by pundits and "experts," they listen to the ignorant chit chat that goes on at their agencies, and they accept it. They don't have the curiosity or resourcefulness to find out what's true and what's not.

Advertising people are always whining about not being treated like "partners" or "professionals" by their clients. To a large degree they don't deserve to be. Imagine if your doctor didn't know the latest facts about his specialty, or if your accountant wasn't up to date on the tax codes.

In this era, how in the world could 30 professional advertising people not know the click-through rate for display ads?

No comments: