We have led the marketing age of enlightenment – reforming the discipline using reason, challenging ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advancing knowledge through math and science. Just as the 17th century philosopher John Locke replaced myths and magic with reason, so too are we.

Somehow the advertising world accelerated out of control over the past half century, convincing marketers that they needed to employ “The philosopher kings of commercial culture” to mine the depths of consumer psyches and fuel increasingly elaborate and costly campaigns with little if any ROI justification. I should know as I was a chief observer and cheer leader. Quite literally, this new magic seems akin to alchemy and astrology that lost scientific credibility in the 18th century at the hands of the enlightenment intellectuals.

“Eliminating waste is not only good for marketers, but in a small way for all of mankind.”

This orgy of lifestyle advertising only served to bring new focus on John Wanamaker’s query about which half of his expenditures were wasted, and yet no new answers emerged.

Until, that is, Digital Advertising arrived.

And we are now on the verge of realizing a Digital Advertising Utopia.

The folks in this room, free thinkers not encumbered by advertising orthodoxy have brought a fresh, empirical approach and scientific rigor to the discipline and are freeing marketers from the mystical influence of the ad wizards.

These wizards convinced marketers in the dark ages of the 80’s and 90’s to embrace new age thinking to discover their corporate essence and articulate their ethos, personality, and identity to consumers. Expansive and expensive campaigns became the norm for creating and sustaining these attitudes among a broad swath of the population. The more companies bought into this manic branding imperative as Naomi Klein called it, the more crowded the market, and the more expensive the next campaign needed to be.

We rejected this business mysticism and replaced it with logic and reason. Is it really necessary to blanket the airwaves broadly to create and then sustain mass awareness, when buyers are actually in-market a fraction of the time—and we know when that fraction is? Do marketers really need to create mass market myths around their products in a world where we can have one-on-one conversations with our prospects?  We know what consumers want—often before or at the same time that they do—and we can deliver on this desire in near real time. Outside of this value exchange, big budget brand-as-experience bonanzas are a waste, we have shown.

Our digital advertising machine is driving relentlessly to eliminate the bloated waste that has become so prevalent over the past half century.

Eliminating this waste is not only good for marketers, but in a small way for all of mankind. In a world of limited resources, wouldn’t it be better to allocate more to housing, feeding, clothing, and educating the population. On a more personal scale, wouldn’t it be nice if your kids didn’t beg for a pair of Uggs, rather asked for a nice pair of warm fuzzy boots if that’s what they needed?!

In this world, our industry would be properly rewarded with the lion’s share of advertising expenditures for the empirical efficiency that we bring. 

The long sought Advertising Utopia is almost here and this is good for the consumer, for marketers, and our industry.