Digital Marketing 3rd Edition
Book PrefaceDigital Marketing 3rd Edition
This is a book on digital marketing – it is not a book on marketing per se. To get the best from this book the reader should be aware of – though not necessarily an expert in – common marketing theories, strategies and tactics. To spend time explaining aspects of marketing – segmentation, for example – within this book would be to diminish the focus on its titular subject area. The content is, therefore, driven by digital marketing applications rather than elements of traditional marketing – though naturally there is some commonality.
Nevertheless, it is inevitable that each chapter will integrate elements of marketing within its subject area. For example, facets of the marketing mix are a constant throughout the book – as are issues associated with buyer behaviour, product/service and customer/consumer. Any book that has pretensions as an academic text should have appropriate academic underpinnings, which this book has. There are, however, four addendums to this:
1. The practical nature of the content means that there are also significant practical underpinnings – that is, there are also references to the work of practitioners who have proved themselves at the coalface of digital marketing. Furthermore, data science has – in my opinion – negated the value of some academic research. For example, I read one article on online advertising that ‘… applied a vector autoregressive models analysis to investigate …’. The findings were pretty accurate. I – and others – knew they were accurate because Google’s AdWords/AdSense analytics tell us the same as the findings – but in real-time.
2. References are also made to statistics or research findings from commercial organizations. Although there may be an element of bias in some of these, they are up to date and represent real-world issues.
3. The academic research in the subject area is out-dated. Not only does the process of researching and publishing academic articles work against contemporary findings – an article published in 2017 may have no references that post date 2015 (or earlier) as that is when the research was conducted – but whilst some findings pass the test of time, many conclusions do not. For example, any comments with regard to social media marketing made in 2015 are not necessarily true for Internet users now; similarly, online advertising has changed so significantly in the last two years that any research into its effectiveness that pre-dates, well … now, is useless for anything other than history.
4. Some of the academic research in the subject area is of dubious quality. A continuation from the previous comment is that some later work uses the findings of earlier research without question, so making subsequent conclusions potentially flawed. In particular, meta-analysis (on academic articles) is popular in this field – I have yet to read one that questions the research rather than accepting the findings as presented.
Also, a surprising amount of the research is conducted only on university campuses, with respondents being either (a) academics, or (b) students. Similarly, many requests to complete questionnaires are posted online – usually on social media.
Whilst this might be acceptable in some research, when looking at anything Internet related these samples are not reasonable representations of the population. However – and I am not sure whether this is a compliment or criticism, but it seems most academic articles on digital marketing include in them somewhere a phrase something like: There is still a significant gap in our understanding/research of the subject area.
I also find that the results of a great deal of academic research actually tell us nothing new. Or rather, tell practitioners nothing they have not already discovered by trial and error. For example, a special issue of European Journal of Marketing published in 2013 featured
an article entitled ‘The Impact of Online User Reviews on Camera Sales’ by Zhang et al. (2013). Its abstract included the following:
Practical implications – This research indicates that the retailers should provide channels for and encourage customer online reviews for search goods to improve sales. It is also beneficial for online retailers to provide detailed product attributes to help their customers make the purchase decision. Carefully designed and executed price promotions could also be effective ways to improve sales of searchable goods.
Originality/value – This study is one of the first attempts to investigate the impact of online user reviews on sales of search goods.
Now, I do not doubt or question the integrity of this article’s authors (or, indeed, that of any academic researcher), but – in my non-academic- research opinion – Amazon and a thousand other online retailers knew the first element of the practical implications back in the last century (I certainly did) and, by definition, a search good is a product that is easily appraised before purchase and so is subject to price competition – and so nothing new there.
As for the originality/value, Amazon – and its contemporaries – will have been, and are still, running real-time research on the impact of online user reviews on sales of search goods, again since the last century. This might have been one of the first academic studies of its kind (I have often come across references to an article by Godes and Mayzlin published in 2004 as ‘the first researchers to investigate the impact of the online review’), but it does not tell us anything new.
Also with regard to academic research, I find there is confusion in the crossover between computing, business and other subject areas – with examples of discipline experts making basic errors when they stray from their own field. This includes marketers making technical statements that are flawed as well as IT writers who – without the qualification or experience in the subject – make erroneous comments about business applications or, of specific relevance to this book, marketing applications.
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