Three digital facts to ensure marketing effectiveness

Still experimenting with Facebook and Google? It’s time to clarify your overall marketing strategy.

By Campbell Phillips, Digital Strategist, Prime Creative Media

How much time have you already spent researching and even dabbling in low-cost, short-term advertising campaigns on digital platforms like Google or Facebook? For many businesses, the answer is ‘an increasing amount’.

The trouble with this is that while people are increasingly looking at these options, not everyone is improving their marketing effectiveness by doing so. This new habit of ‘dabbling’ has resulted in a tendency towards short-term planning and reactivity. In turn, brands end up losing equity, and this costs the business much more than the initial ‘experimentation phase’.

If you wish to build digital advertising into an effective marketing strategy, cut the chase by arming yourself with a few key facts.

  1. Nearly half of all web traffic is non-human

No, your website isn’t being visited by aliens, this ‘non-human’ traffic is actually a variety of software ‘bots’.

Imperva research found 19.5% of web traffic consists of good bots (such as those sent by Google to index your website), while another 29% are bad bots, which may be used for hacking, fraud and even spam comments1.

If you’re trying to measure the effectiveness of online display by benchmarking click through traffic against impressions, there’s a good chance your impression metrics twice as high as they really should be. If you’re paying based on impressions alone, then 50% of those impressions may be worthless.

But there are some exceptions. Websites that receive their traffic predominantly via direct email will have a much higher proportion of human traffic. This is where marketers need to work hard to truly understand the real audience behind any given platform’s numbers.

This statistic also reinforces how print and other traditional above-the-line media continue to prove their worth – 100% of their audience is human.

  1. People don’t read stuff on social media

That’s right; people just don’t read the vast majority of articles they like, comment on or share via social media. Earlier this year, a study from researchers at Columbia University and the French National Institute looked at 2.8 million online news articles shared via Twitter. Fifty-nine percent of those links had never actually been clicked by the people sharing them2.

If you’re aim is to drive traffic or purchases via social media, this statistic alone should represent a huge red flag. You may find you’re able to develop a lot of ‘buzz’ on social platforms with the right campaign, but if you’re not converting new customers, then you’re not realising your brand’s potential value.

  1. The most important digital statistics are neither digital, nor a statistic

Your customers, clients and prospects don’t think of themselves as statistics, and so it’s important not to fall into the habit of thinking of them as such.

As advertising expert Peter Field writes: ‘Brand preferences are built up gradually and primarily through emotional brand associations in the brain.’ This is fundamental psychology, and it hasn’t changed for millennia3,4.

As data-driven marketing has arrived, the emphasis has moved away from compelling creative. Instead, marketers are much more likely to plan time-sensitive campaigns in a bid to yield maximum conversions with price-based offers. In a competitive market this only serves to erode margins by triggering a race to the bottom.

Brands looking to increase their equity and maintain business for the long run should instead focus effort on creativity, product and customer service, rather than getting caught up in measuring and reacting to data.

Growing value through investing in your products, people and partners is a time-tested, sound business strategy.


  1. Imperva Improve – 2015 Bot Traffic Report
  2. Maksym Gabielkov, Arthi Ramachandran, Augustin Chaintreau, Arnaud Legout. Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?. ACM SIGMETRICS / IFIP Performance 2016, Jun 2016, Antibes Juan-les-Pins, France. 2016.
  3. Peter Field. The future of advertising – a call for common sense. The Wharton Future of Advertising Program, Oct 2012
  4. Nadia Cameron. Why creativity wins out over big data. CMO, Jul 2013.