Bob Hoffman on marketing “Digital Delusions”

Extract from In Publishings coverage of News Works last month written by Ray Snoddy: Bob Hoffman, a contrarian ad blogger and former advertising agency owner in San Francisco, attacked, what he called, the delusions of his industry, some causing considerable damage to traditional media.

Hoffman, author of Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey, denounced the ad business for being far more obsessed with brands than consumers are, attaching exaggerated importance to digital, and virtually ignoring the over-50s.

On the digital delusion, Hoffman noted that the overwhelming amount of Apple’s advertising money is spent on “the non-digital variety”, mostly on print, TV and outdoor.

“Yet somehow they manage to survive and have become the world’s most valuable company. What have the wizards of advertising learned from Apple – absolutely nothing,” Hoffman said disdainfully.

Another serious delusion, according to Hoffman, involves the over-50s. Nielsen believes they make up the most valuable generation in the history of marketing in the US.

Hoffman said they are responsible for 50 per cent of all consumer spending and control 70 per cent of US wealth, yet are the target for only 10 per cent of American marketing activity.

“I thought there might be some facts to justify this but when I looked, I found none. Most marketers target young people because they see everyone else doing it,” insisted Hoffman. He did not highlight the fact that the over 50s in the US and the UK are more likely to use mainstream media – and vote.