marketing landscape

Following our recent blog post discussing whether or not there is a transparency issue in digital advertising, Faith PR director Carl Hopkins provides an insight into how today’s digital marketing landscape compares to the past.


Rewinding back to the year of 1984, my career began in the marketing industry when direct marketing was becoming increasingly popular. This method was defined as messages that were directed at a target audience and was measurable in its call to action, whether that call to action was an enquiry, a phone call, a fax returned, a coupon handed in, a request for further information, an appointment or quite possibly a sale.

Two years into my creative and marketing career and I was tasked with spending £40,000 on new technology; I placed my faith in Apple computers which was the start of the digital desktop revolution that changed the creative agency world forever.

The desktop development of technology continued to grow when I went to a conference in the USA in the mid-nineties which introduced the World Wide Web. This was the start of another digital revolution, selling online, anywhere in the world at any time and it seems any product or service.

Now sat in my wife’s PR agency, over the last ten years I have witnessed traditional PR and online PR all converge into one entity. And every day the gap between PR and Marketing seems to close and blur. Most companies now look to target their audience online and rightly so – they can reach a larger audience for a smaller cost – but are they simply diluting their messages, their propositions and their sales as they are more and more starry-eyed for their number of likes, followers and retweets – and I can’t help thinking: “but where are the sales?!”

And as the Emperor’s clothes of love hearts, and thumbs up clicks slips away it seems other brands are asking the same questions and online advertising is facing criticism; online advertisers are beginning to question whether they are gaining any returns on their investments and are becoming unhappy with their ROI – this being something I have heard before. Is it true one third of all web traffic is inhuman bots? Do we care if a million people see and like our products, but no one actually buys – we should care, we really should care.


Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” John Wanamaker, (attributed) US department store merchant (1838 – 1922) …and if you haven’t you should probably not be called a marketer. But I think the conundrum is even larger now in an online world “possibly more than half of the money you spend online advertising is wasted, the trouble is NO ONE really knows” and you should not “like” that

It’s time to take a hard look at where you are placing your brand as it may be seen alongside images, messages and propaganda that can only serve to damage your brand.

Here are some of the brands boycotting YouTube while they sort out their brand placement issues:
– Argos
– Audi
– Aviva
– Heinz
– Honda
– L’Oreal

In fact, The Havas Group UK, in March, froze all of its spend. This agency manages major brands including Domino’s Pizza, O2, Royal Mail, BBC, and Hyundai Kia – this is a serious issue.

It’s time to review your PPC spend, your social media spend and in fact any channels you currently spend your precious budget on. Start again, test it, measure it then roll it out. Don’t simply pick up inherited marketing plans and carry on rolling out – there is money to be saved, there are channels to kill or there are Return on Investment strategies that need to be improved.

I have seen PPC strategies become a drug for small business, they dare not reduce their spend as they fear sales will tumble – but they have never dared try it. It cannot all work all the time – be brave.

I have seen brands spend huge amount online and never question the rate card of the media owners or question the management fee of the media broker/manager – there are opportunities to save and improve your budgets.

Personally, I never simply roll through on an annual insurance policy and you shouldn’t either – and you should definitely be reviewing your online media budgets on a quarterly basis, because it all affects the bottom line. People, as the great David Oglivy, said “we sell or we die”.

We don’t need likes we need sales.

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Abigail Henderson Account Manager
At Faith, Abigail is responsible for helping to manage client accounts and deliver communications plans, alongside crafting digital campaigns, designing client visuals, and landing features across a range of industries.