Is Digital An Effective Mass Market Medium?

A great article produced by Charlotte Rogers of discussed whether digital is effective at mass audience reach as well as targeted reach.


Narrow Thinking?

“The amount of data available to marketers using digital channels is immense. But while digital is lauded for its ability to allow brands to reach the right consumer, at the right time, in the right environment, the question remains whether it is an effective medium for mass marketing.

Digital channels are often accused of making marketers think too narrowly in their activity, meaning they sacrifice reach and long-term growth for narrow, short-term metrics.

Brands have become more acutely aware of this trade-off since the publication of Byron Sharp’s book ‘How Brands Grow’, which suggests marketers should replace targeting with “sophisticated mass marketing”.

Last year, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard confirmed the company was moving away from targeted Facebook advertising after calling its approach too “targeted and narrow”. P&G, however, insisted it was not planning to cut its total investment in Facebook and would continue to use targeted ads for some products, such as selling nappies to expectant parents.

Meanwhile, Mars’s former global CMO Bruce McColl has asserted that he is “not a great believer in targeting”, adding that the company’s target is “about seven billion people sitting on this planet”. Speaking at the Advertising Research Foundation’s conference last year, he said: “Our task is to reach as many people as we can; to get them to notice us and remember us; to nudge them; and, hopefully, get them to buy us once more this year.”

Both statements would indicate that the brands are following Sharp’s recommendation to “continuously reach all buyers of the category” and move away from standard segmentation and targeting if they want to grow their business. It is often not digital that springs to mind when looking to reach people at scale.”

Effectiveness Measurement

Further discussions of staying visible and targeting en masse pose important questions. One key point is how do we measure effectiveness. Facebook admitted to overestimating the time people watch videos on the site by up to 80% yet despite its error revenues soared 51% in the fourth quarter. It looks unlikely that brands will move away from the platform any time soon.


Defining Success is varied across the major brands with each having a different approach. Whilst marketers now have the ability to optimise marketing 24 hour, 7 days a week, it is all about holding your nerve.

“In a world where optimisation can happen at the touch of button, it is more crucial than ever for marketers to set out with a clear appreciation of their KPIs and then design their digital activity to deliver as part of a holistic strategy.”


It is a minefield where opinions differ across the board. As soon as you get a foothold, the digital work evolves further and sometimes it feels like you are playing catch up. However, selecting the right channels, the right audience and the right campaign for your business is key. If you would like any advice or want help driving your marketing campaign have a look at our website or contact us on 01803 813777.



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