John Wanamaker’s quote is one of the most famous in 100 years of advertising history!

“Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; I just don’t know which half.”

Brand advertising is broken. Here’s why!

So what do today’s marketers think of John Wanamaker’s much-repeated remark? Unfortunately, not a lot seems to have changed!

John Wanamaker

Research carried out by The Drum for Wistia, found the marketing world almost split down the middle with 53% of respondents agreeing with Wanamaker, while 47% disagreed.

B2C marketers were most likely to agree with Wanamaker’s statement (63% agreed), and agencies least likely (50% agreed). B2B marketers fell in between, with 53% agreeing.

The Drum research outlined in the report sees a depressing picture of the state of online brand building. It describes a world where more than half of the people spending money on advertising are no better off than their counterparts a hundred years ago in terms of understanding its effectiveness, its ROI, and where marketers advertise because “that’s what you do”.

Worryingly, the research detailed in the report shows that the way marketers and agencies think about brand advertising has failed to keep up with the changing world.

In fact, more than half of the companies advertising on the big media platforms, such as Facebook and Google, don’t know whether the views they are getting for their online videos are from real people or not, but bots.

While advertisers have a wider variety or channels through which to build awareness of their brand than ever before, they’re still using traditional or basic online techniques to measure their success. Furthermore, despite a wholesale shift in the way ads are distributed, the way in which businesses measure brand advertising hasn’t changed much at all in the passing years.

The disconnect masks a profound ineffectiveness, which both media agencies and tech giants alike are discouraged to be honest about.

According to Wistia’s brand marketing strategist, Phil Nottingham: “That businesses are spending so much money with no clear idea what value they are getting in return is a clear indication that dramatic change is on the horizon.

“Google and Facebook will hope that their promise of directly attributable means of direct customer acquisition will capture more and more of the budget, but there is an open question about where businesses that really care about ‘brand’ should allocate their marketing dollars.”

The report suggests brand advertising is broken and that advertisers need to find another way to build their brands. It shows it’s time to find a better way to look at the current advertising environment and the differing attitudes of brands and agencies, especially around issues such as measurement and trust.

It also reveals how marketers desperately need to work harder to understand how views differ between the US and EMEA, between B2B and B2C brands, and between small companies and larger ones.

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