Mark Ritson: Spreadsheet jockeys are misunderstanding the marketing funnel

In an era when many traditional marketing and advertising conferences are underwhelming it’s clear that Dmexco – the digital marketing exposition and conference – is rising in both its influence and attractiveness. The annual event in Cologne is rapidly acquiring a marquee place not only in the calendars of the digerati but also the broader marketing community too.

Among the 570 speakers last week in Germany were some of the biggest names in the business including senior media and marketing leads from most of the big brands. My favourite report from the conference floor came from Digiday’s Seb Joseph who collated a series of overheard conversations from the army of digital marketers attending the event.

“There’s still so much crap spouted here,” one particularly cynical marketer told Joseph. “Even I don’t understand what a lot of these ad tech vendors are saying they do, and I’ve worked in digital advertising a long time. If a client was walking around this hall, they wouldn’t understand what digital advertising is all about — I’m not even sure the vendors know themselves.”

It’s a revealing quote. As marketing continues to advance at ever increasing speeds into acronyms and ambitions that literally did not exist a year ago, it’s crucial that marketers maintain a super-effective bullshit detector. Some of the new developments in digital marketing are genuinely astonishing, others are bags of piss disguised as the champagne of disruption. I advise every good marketer to assume it’s the latter, even at the risk of looking like an out of touch idiot, until someone eventually proves to you that it’s the former. Enthusiasm and great marketing are rarely successful long-term partners.

Read more from Mark Ritson on Marketing Week.

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