Google uses Direct Mail. Do you?

Here’s the headline + rationale from a Google direct mail piece that I received last week.

Right now, people

Are looking for

Businesses just

Like yours.

66% of mobile searchers made a purchase (either online or in-store) after doing a related search on their smartphone in the past 3 months. (Based on a US May 2015 survey. n=1243)

82% of smartphone users say they use search to find a local business. (2014/15 survey. n=1,000)

27.5M smartphone users in Canada expected in 2020. ( survey)

To make it even easier for me to buy an Adwords campaign right now, Google’s offering me up to $150.00 when I spend $150.00  

This misleading piece of direct mail got me going for a few reasons.

The rational is a rationalization that attempts to cover up Google's most fundamental online search challenge with a false assumption: that when you’re searching for something (on your mobile device) you want paid ads popping up ahead of your organic search results.    

While Google wants me to run an Adword campaign to capitalize on the latent potential floating around in all those search results, their seemingly generous offer masks the real cost of a successful online advertising campaign. Google will help you along with sophisticated tracking tools that enable you to measure your own campaign's progress. But although their tools eclipse the metrics offered by traditional media, Google provides absolutely no comparative data that gives you a sense of how other companies in your category, demographic of geographic segment are doing. The longer Google keeps you in the dark, the more you’ll spend. This competitive isolation strategy is unique to Google + I hate it.

Since the dawn of adverting high quality, personalized direct mail has been tried, tested and selected as the medium of choice when it comes to increased target group reach, message frequency, detail message comprehension and increased response rates (from both existing and lapsed customers). Some of my Adword accounts have been dormant for over five years and I am still on Google’s direct mail list because they know, as you also should, that it is much cheaper to reactivate a lapsed customer than to activate a new one.

Google has tried to reactivate me in the most affordable manner possible; using their own channels including YouTube, their search engine and e-mail banner offers. But Google knows, as you also should that when the law of diminishing return kicks in, it is best to drill down into your data base and skim off a layer of high potential non-responders and test response rates with a completely different medium – like direct mail.

If Google, perhaps the biggest and most savvy media vendor on the planet, is using a combination of 1. Google media channels, 2. e-mail, 3. Adwords and 4. addressed direct mail to improve their market share, shouldn’t your marketing and advertising teams be doing the same?

Shouldn’t you be running ongoing media and message tests as well?

Shouldn’t you be thinking that maybe, just maybe, online advertising isn't the be-all and end-all? That maybe it's just a small part of a comprehensive, well constructed advertising plan rather than the foundation.

This by the way, is not a Google best practices thing, it's a media 101 common sense thing for any experienced Media Director (like me) who has been around long enough to observe that while media selection and media mixes change over time, people really don’t.



Another (new) case for “relevance” in advertising

I just stumbled upon this “insight” in the 2014-2015 CMDC Media Digest (page 7). It’s part of the Trends + Issues commentary article by Karen Nayler, CEO, Mindshare.

“CONTRASTING CONSUMER CULTURES: OPT-OUT VS. OPT-IN?  In 2014, Mindshare Canada fielded a study regarding mobile usage in Canada. Amongst other insights gained, the study found that 25% of 18-to-34 year-olds (the much sought after “Millen­nial”) did not mind their mobile devices being tracked as long as this was used to serve relevant ads. In a world where consumers prefer to choose who, where, when and what messaging they interact with, this suggests the next generation of consumers is beginning to embrace opting in to a value exchange as long as advertisers deliver truly timely and relevant advertising.”

I found this insight very disturbing for two reasons:

1. The optimistic spin

While “25% did not mind their mobiles being tracked as long as this was used to serve relevant ads”, by statistical inference 75% did not want their mobile devices tracked (or at best were “undecided”).

2.  Applying new terminology to an old insight does not make it a new insight

“this suggests the next generation of consumers is beginning to embrace opting in to a value exchange as long as advertisers deliver truly timely and relevant advertising.”

Bullshit. In 1935 David Ogilvy wrote one of the best sales manuals ever written for Aga Cookers. Among its suggestions: "never mistake quantity of calls for quality of salesmanship."

Given it is now 2018, the idea of consumers embracing (or opting in to) a value exchange as long as advertisers deliver truly timely and relevant advertising is now at least 83 years old. Sadly, most of the relevant insights gained by the women + men who conceived of and built the post-war advertising industry are lost on the Millennial generation, now in charge, because the data is not available online for free. 

Relevance in terms of product, place, price and promotion has ALWAYS been fundamental to advertising success and is summed up elegantly in this “historic” Ogilvy selling proposition that I still use very effectively on a regular basis:

“A logical argument, emotionally delivered by a voice respected + admired by the audience.”



Now you see me, now you don't.

This excerpt from a recent G+M article on the subject of deindexing is in, my judgment, the next big (untapped) online advertising opportunity because deindexing enables individuals and companies to do two things:

  1. “grant citizens the right to force search engines to remove (deindex) websites with incorrect information about themselves from search results”
  2. affect the website’s ranking (reindexing).


Read it and think about it a while.


Privacy czar rules on right to dispute search results.

'Draft policy position' says Canadians can ask for information about themselves to be taken out of search results.


Saturday, January 27, 2018 Page B3, THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Canada's privacy watchdog says the country's digital-privacy laws can grant citizens the right to force search engines to remove websites with incorrect information about themselves from search results, but it's also calling on Ottawa to further study the rights Canadians have to manage their online reputations.

Such a removal is called "deindexing." There is no such explicit right to it in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says.

But in what it calls a "draft policy position" released on Friday, the office said that when combined, two provisions of the act - the obligation of companies to use accurate information and the ability of Canadians to challenge that accuracy - can be interpreted as a right to request information about oneself to be de-indexed.

This interpretation means search engines such as Google "must meet their obligations under the Act" and allow Canadians to challenge the results of searches of their name if they believe it turns up inaccurate, incomplete or out of date information - for instance, if they found defamatory content in a blog post.

For the full article, search for: Sat. Jan. 27. ROB Privacy czar rules on right to dispute search results.



CMDC Digest 2016 / 2017

Long before I became an Account Director and a Creative Director, I was a Media Estimator, Buyer, Planner, Manager and finally a Media Director.

Being a Creative Director is fun because I’m the one responsible for coming up with the “big idea” that the client’s advertising campaign is built around.

Being an Account Director was also a lot of fun because the Account Director is really the one who drives the client conversation and is the one that determines if the client’s campaign is going to be very innovative, repetitive + boring, serious, insightful, wicked, funny, effective or benign.

But being a Media Director was the most challenging role and in hindsight the most interesting line of work. The Media Director determines where the stories will be told. Great media planning, buying + deployment are an amazing process of research driven information orchestrations.

Great media plans put great creative in a position to sell. (A great story at the right time + place presented to the right audience.)

A great media plan + poor creative works, but not as well. (An O.K. story at the right time + place presented to the right audience.)

A bad media plan + great creative is a waste of time + money. (A great story that the right target group never gets to see or hear.)


This, my friends is the 2016 / 2017 edition of the CMDC Digest.

It’s an executive summary of the kind of data today’s Media Directors use to assemble smart, insightful + effective media plans and recommendations.

  • It’s an amazing assembly of facts and figures.
  • It’s all about Canada (not the U.S.)
  • It’s available for free at
  • And a quick search will turn up guides from previous years.