Digital marketing is an arena with many experts and just as many charts, graphics and articles about how to do it all better. But those tend to stay at the surface level. The deeper you go, the more murky things get.

Don't get me wrong, digital works. But, in my 20 years of work in digital, I have found a laundry list of areas in digital where there is a serious lack of transparency and oversight. Where there is a lack of transparency, there are people and brands willing to make a buck exploiting them. For instance:

  • Were your banners really targeted to the list you requested?
  • Is your partner re-selling your pixel-scripted audience to competitors?
  • Is the site you are buying purchasing random traffic to fulfill the buy?
  • Are your metrics being manually or automatically inflated?
  • Are your emails boosted by auto-openers and auto-clickers?

Blockchain is touted in one article as a possible solution ( MORE). But, you might as well have columns about how AI, chatbots, machine learning and other digital buzzwords will solve it, too. And yes there are many routes to spend your way to greater comfort. MORE ... But these are all symptom crushing rather than disease eradication.

Digital marketing needs to be professionalized from within. Just because you can hack a marketing problem doesn't mean you should. My encouragement to you is to work with people you trust, ask deeper questions of those you want to trust but aren't certain yet, and check/test everything.

By the way, if anything in this note offends you, I have some advice about when and how to respond. MORE

SOCIAL MEDIA: Good content from quality sources is magical. Don't let influencer support change how you content market. Optimize, target to new audiences and change up the call to action. MORE ... Three quarters of social media marketers use some sort of automation tool but more than half agree there is a personalization downside to it. MORE ... Influencer marketing continues to work and grow. MORE ... Social has an array of helpful software supporting your efforts. Here's a handy tool to both see many of them and compare. MORE ... Want quick results? There is no hack of social (although there are code snippets that might help). Be interesting, professional and provide quality. MORE ... Instagram is removing "like" counts, so better metrics will need to be sought to judge effectiveness. MORE ... Facebook like counting may go away, but the engagement tool is far too powerful and necessary to remove the ability to like. MORE ... Even the nation's brightest minds can screw up in social media strategy. MORE ... Influencers are not just the people with the most likes or followers. It's about true quality and alignment of message. MORE

PROGRAMMATIC: Google may need to check its math but the bottom line is everyone is angry with Apple for trying to kill cookies. MORE ... There is life after the cookie. There are many alternative ID solutions out there. Some are better than others. MORE ... Still aren't comfortable with your programmatic knowledge. Here are some basics. MORE ... Are you familiar with SmartyAds, TubeMogul,, MediaMath and PubMatic? You probably should at least know what these programmatic advertising platforms do. MORE