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Crazy Egg. Facebook. Google Analytics. Google Tag Manager. Hubspot. Marketo. New Relic. Visual Website Optimizer. With four clicks, I can bankrupt all of these platforms and others just like them.

But wait for it. So far, we have heard many great ideas on data and analytics – and now for something completely different. First, let’s review a little theory. There have always been two main categories of advertising: brand advertising and direct marketing. Brand advertising builds brands by communicating subconscious messages to mass audiences for long-term benefit. Direct marketing gets immediate, trackable responses from a specific set of people.

Now, the benefits of brand advertising are that it is creative and memorable. It’s subtle and not too annoying. People tolerate brand advertising because they are sometimes even entertaining. Just think about the Super Bowl ads in America. I remember ads that I saw thirty years ago. I don’t remember any blog posts or PPC ads that I saw yesterday.

But the negatives are that it is expensive. One campaign with one big idea is expensive – and not trackable. If you ask a creative how many sales directly resulted from a print ad, TV commercial, or billboard, you will never get a precise answer because it is impossible to know. Creatives know general principles of human behavior but cannot prove their results beyond seeing a general increase in sales after the fact. And that rubs a lot of digital marketers the wrong way because they are used to having good data on everything.

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