Start making sense again – Digital Marketing in 2017

Start making in sense again

In 1984 the rock group Talking Heads made a movie named « Stop making sense ». The title came from the lyrics in their songs and for me it was a welcome refreshment to the all-too-sensible 1980’s with their economic crises and tediously well-organized society where everything seemed to be set in stone.

Via wikipedia Fair use_Link

Then in the 90’s I was released from boredom as the WWW arrived with the promise to change the world. Make something better. Break the monopolies. Even the playing field. Let creativity come loose. Give everybody access to information. Set innovation free.

And with the internet came a new form of marketing, and with internet marketing came my career and my passion for many years. We were caught by the spell of novelty, opportunity and disruption. We invented SEO, discussion groups, communities, emailing, 1to1, stickiness, personalization, virality, social media. Everything didn’t always fit together but we were constantly trying and learning and improving.


We invented remarketing, RTB, programmatic, marketing automation, audience planning, gamification, geofencing, native ads and chatbots…

And somewhere along the way, we lost something. The most precious thing for anyone who communicates. We lost the audience. We lost the end-user. Fed up with spam and with inconsistent messaging, the end user bails out. Done with ads, done with flames on social media. Need for Digital Detox. But we only really found out once adblocking changed the rules of the game.

I think it was the story that broke. The story we try to tell with our brands. We have been so eagerly focusing on getting the message out, that the story got bent and distorted and over-repeated. Everybody is to blame because we forgot what we were really trying to do. In communication, the key is the audience. In marketing the key is the customer experience.

2017 will be the year where we aim to Start making sense again. We will stop bidding on keywords just because they represent an economic opportunity and start thinking about the user moment and the fit with our brands. We will stop using multiple remarketers in parallel and start thinking holistically about exposure capping and consistency and sequencing of our story. We will stop doing sprinkler campaigns covering the entire marketplace and start systematically building our campaigns on the basis of qualified audiences. And most importantly, we will start considering the omnichannel experience and try to build the story from the end-users point of view. This will require the digital marketer to deeply understand brand values, personas and transmedia storytelling. We have work to do…

(this article was originally published as my contribution to the Acquisio 2017 Digital marketing predictions ebook)