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Marketing myth busters: if people prefer print ads, are digital marketers failing?


Marketing myth busters: if people prefer print ads, are digital marketers failing?


The immense volume and variety of information on the internet makes it easier than ever for consumers to form opinions about brands and make purchasing decisions. In such a heavily saturated media environment, marketers need to know what the most powerful factors in the purchasing process are, which methods are most valuable, and what Australian consumers want. New research suggests that the answers are: highly-relevant and personalised content, a strong community of peers, and a unique social context that binds the community, content and company.

‘Marketing Myth Busters’ [PDF], a study conducted by Edelman Berland, in partnership with Adobe, shows most Australians are comfortable with online products and services that have been customised for them, but they don’t want to sacrifice their privacy to get it. The study also shows that most Australians prefer to look at traditional ads in magazines or on TV, rather than online. So does this mean digital marketers are failing consumers?

Best for credibility


Relevancy and personalisation are key to delivering successful digital marketing campaigns. Digital marketers are getting access to more information than ever before but unless they can use that data more effectively they will miss opportunities. At the same time, consumers need to consider how much of their personal information they are willing to share in order to receive products and services that are more relevant to them.

The ‘Myth Busters’ research has also found that consumers believe the two most effective ways to encourage consideration of a product or brand is through recommendations from someone they trust (69%) and recommendations from consumer reviews (45%). This suggests that through social media, peers have become an influential factor in purchasing decisions.

Consumers are actively using social media to seek out information and reviews of products from peers, but they want content from brands to tell unique stories rather than simply ‘sell’. Their motivations for engaging with brands and products, as well as the types of content they wish to see, are very specific and this means advertisers need to re-consider how they construct their messages and content for social media. Simply mirroring the content or methods used in other media won’t produce results.

The ‘Marketing Myth Busters’ study also found that:

  • Checking updates from friends is the primary function of social media for both consumers (32%) and marketers (40%),
  • 63% of consumers feel positive or neutral when a company customises its products or services for them,
  • 84% of consumers agree that companies collect too much information on consumers,
  • 49% of consumers said they ‘like’ brands on social media that they buy regularly,
  • 51% of consumers see the action of ‘liking’ a product or brand on social media equal to communicating tastes or interests, while 41% see it as recommending that product to friends or family,
  • 51% of consumers answered ‘Yes, very much’ when asked if they wished there was a ‘dislike’ button on social media sites,
  • 75% of consumers believe advertisements should tell a unique story, and not sell, and
  • consumers and marketers prefer to look at ads in their favourite print magazine (consumers 33%, marketers 27%) or favourite TV show (marketers 39%, consumers 31%), compared to online media.


The consumer perception of marketing’s ineffectiveness may seem concerning, but the fact that consumers prefer to look at ads in printed magazines and on TV suggests they’re still receptive to advertising. Marketers should be more concerned with the context created by the messaging and positioning of content.

To create successful campaigns for the social and digital world, marketing content needs to be created and positioned in a context that is unique and relevant to the social community. But this can only be achieved by abandoning standardised messaging and direct calls to action in favour of content that: fosters community discussion about relevant topics between peers, provides unique brand or product-oriented experiences and leverages indirect social calls to action.

Consumers want to be social. They want to be a part of a community, and they also want to be involved with brands and products that engage them with their peers in a bigger social context. Is your company creating this context for its consumers yet?


Paul Robson

Managing director, Adobe Australia & New Zealand (view profile on LinkedIn)

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