In our fast-moving world of digital marketing, most articles written two and a half years ago are ancient and outdated. But that’s not the case for Ben Wood’s “The End of Dumb Digital Marketing.” Wood, now the director of agencies for Facebook, was the global president of the iProspect network, one of the largest digital marketing firms in the world, when he penned the piece in 2014 for Admap. It remains one of the most influential pieces I have read.

The basic premise is that brands have yet to fully embrace online media’s unique role in fully-integrated campaigns designed to drive engagement, awareness and equity. It encourages us to use and measure digital in a broader ecosystem of both online and offline strategies that collectively address the consumer’s complete buying journey.

My key takeaways from the article:

  1. Data utilization often falls down where the customer journey crosses between online, mobile and offline channels, and therefore the loop is not closed. Money is wasted and the consumer is confused by the purpose of the advertising. In the worst cases, the consumer is annoyed and brand equity is eroded.
  2. Campaign optimization must wrap around the whole journey. Working to the last digital click only optimizes channels at the bottom of the funnel. This grossly oversimplifies the complete customer journey and attributes zero value to those channels driving awareness and engagement earlier in the journey.
  3. The smartest operators in attribution spend time understanding all the outcomes from digital advertising, both those that convert as well as those that do not, to truly understand the integrated effect of the campaign.
  4. Digital gets the credit for most conversion, but needs to be appraised as the endpoint in a much more complex consumer journey.
  5. Search and retargeting don’t work without brand equity.
  6. In the data- and technology-driven world of digital advertising, those brands and agencies that win are the ones best able to embrace science and combine it with art – the intangible magic that only people can bring.

Wood’s advice may be older in “digital years”, but his message is still relevant and worth remembering.