Despite Fake News and Fuzzy Numbers, the Internet Holds Unlimited Opportunity for Marketers

Lung Huang, Head of Strategic Partnerships, 84.51°
Marketing News Weekly
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Key Takeaways

What? Popular belief may say the digital ecosystem is polluted and broken.

So what? Don't believe all the fatalists. Innovation advanced our industry and will continue to push it forward.

Now what? As an industry, marketers and advertisers need to continue to use the power of technology to find solutions to serve consumers and communicate in a digital world.

​May 12, 2017

Popular belief may say the internet is polluted and broken. Don't believe the fatalists.


Many of us just finished watching HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” I think most of us were amazed by the performances by such star-studded actresses and amazing story of how a group bands together to right a wrong. Throughout the show, you had a feeling that a number of their “little lies” could be the one that would end the show.

This reminds me of our industry. This has been a rough few months for those largest publishers, namely Google and Facebook. Both faced backlash from advertisers, other media competitors and probably the loudest critic: the media industry. On one hand, an error was made in the calculations by Facebook. On the other there were brand safety concerns with brands’ advertisements next to the underbelly of the internet with hate speech for Google. Both companies recently announced they were taking steps to help eliminate “fake news” by allowing articles to be certified.

Maybe we need a little serious mothering for our industry—to be the check for our work. While automation is great for the digital marketing world, maybe an audit—albeit a random audit—is needed.

I am not saying that either company is not at fault, nor should they be exempt from making good on what they have done. I just don’t think we should dwell on it. Rather we need to continue to innovate within the digital ecosystem.

The important aspect we lost was the fact that both companies were transparent and are attempting to make a better product and move on by dedicating the time to address their clients. According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), in the third quarter of 2016, both Google and Facebook generate 73% of all U.S. ad revenues. What is even more staggering is that together they accounted for 99% of the growth in that same quarter.

What is not staggering, however, is the response from traditional media who believe that this is part of a larger red herring within both companies. Their dismissive response, while expected, was disappointing.

As someone who tried to convince people how great radio is for many years, I get their point. The news of a clear market leader and Wall Street darlings who are stealing dollars by the truckload from their media platform was a pure delight as far as a talking point.

“Can you trust their numbers?” “How can your brand really know that they won’t put your ad adjacent to something questionable?”

These are great position points for the short term, but let’s not lose sight of the fact of how both companies grew to be the size that they are now: They built a better product. They started from scratch and improved over time. Long-term erosion of trust is yet to be fully realized.

Living the Dream

It would be nice if our jobs were so easy and we could have a greater level of marketing evolution without any issues. We are at an amazing point in our marketing careers where we are able to send more personalized messages to our customers at a rate than ever before. We are making decisions based on data rather than on intuition. The “marketing dream” hasn’t been formed yet, and I am sure that it won’t be pitched to us at any one company, but rather it will be us all working on our key goals and using the best products and services.

Which takes me to the end of the series of big little lies: There wasn’t any dialogue by the lead actresses, but rather the show’s writers told the story of their actions and not with words. They all had the confidence that their decision was right for the group. Now how great would it be if this advertising/marketing industry would do more and say less?

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Author Bio:

Lung Huang, Head of Strategic Partnerships, 84.51°
Lung Huang is Head of Strategic Partnerships at 84.51°. He is a veteran of the media marketing and research business with prior roles at dunnhumby Ltd. and Arbitron. Follow Lung Huang on Twitter at @Lung_Huang.
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