Reading digital ad reports reminds me of this NYT article that shows how much hot air is in digital http://t.co/ZlqIvut3iV
— Dan Hazelwood (@HazelwoodDan) September 19, 2014
So says Republican direct mail consultant Dan Hazelwood. The New York Times article he links to includes an especially horrific tale of an advertising agency whose media buyer placed a portion of an ad buy on porn websites.
Hazelwood, like the New York Times, mistakes this as a problem with digital advertising. In reality, the problem was a shady ad buyer who either deceived his client, was lazy, or didn’t know what he was doing.
In politics, we see this storyline too frequently: established consulting firms now feature digital services, and when their inexperienced buyers venture into digital, the results are often disastrous.
That’s why we don’t buy radio or television for our clients, instead sending them to firms who specialize in those media.
Since digital began playing a large role in campaigns, existing firms have reacted four general ways:
- They ignored the changes, and conducted their business as usual;
- They accepted the changes and facilitated new partnerships with digital firms to improve their own clients’ performance;
- They jumped into digital themselves, hoping to cash in;
- They continue to discredit digital because they don’t profit from it, they don’t understand it, or they felt left behind by it.
It all reminds me of this Newsweek article about why the Internet is just a passing fad, and will never gain any traction. The author, a physicist and astronomer, downplays “the net”, and dismisses the ideas of online commerce, telecommuting, and even the ridiculous idea of getting the news via computers.
Downplaying digital has put our Republican Party at a costly tech disadvantage to the Democrats from which we are only now beginning to emerge.
It’s time to move beyond this all-too-familiar battlefield and start winning some elections.