It’s still marketing, Mark.

After watching this weeks required viewing – Mark Ritson’s presentations at mUmBRELLA “Beyond Digital Marketing: Why the D-word is Hurting Marketers[1], and “Why Social Media is a Mostly Waste of Time for Marketers” (Marketing Week)[2], it wouldn’t surprise me if you believed that Digital and social media are not important for marketers.

In my blog a couple of weeks ago, I discussed how I believe that Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing run the risk of being in managed in silos.  Prof Ritson in his Marketing Week presentation shares the same view.  But the difference in our opinions is that I believe that digital and social media platforms are more important now than they ever have been, and he thinks that they are a waste of time.

Social media is very important to marketers. This is where in a large number of our customers are spending their time.  In Australia, 62% of the Australian population uses social media an average of 10 hours per week.  And of these users 50% of them claim that they are more likely to trust a brand on social media.[3]

These numbers are difficult to ignore.  These customers are actively engaged on social media.

Prof Ritson is controversial in suggesting that there is no place for social media platforms in brand marketing. 

One of his points is that while 50% of articles about marketing are about social media – only 5% is actually spent on social media.  As though spend was an indication of reach and impact.

Social media marketing by design is a very targeted space for organisations, for both advertising and having a presence in social media (Facebook pages, etc).   It’s also inexpensive and for some brands is free of any cost (other than human labour).  Using the dollar amount spent on social media as an evidence that it is insignificant is not a good argument.  Spend does not reflect presence nor engagement with the consumer.

Prof Ritson claims that TV and Radio are still better media for targeting consumers – due to the reach and amount of time consumers spend watching TV and listening to the radio.  I believe this is true, these media are very effective in reaching customers, but they can also be very expensive and there is a lot of waste – and definitely are less targeted than are social media campaigns.  

These media are also in decline – and television viewing has changed since the spread of “on demand viewing” which is offered by Netflix, Stan, and HBO – free of any advertising.  Live free to air tv viewership is less than 52% of Australians.[4]  Opportunities for TV ads to be seen is reducing.  Radio is also in decline as an advertising opportunity as many listeners have moved to Pandora, Spotify, or digital radio to avoid listening to ads.

The longstanding rule for TV advertising is – the better the program the more people are reached- and the higher the cost of the ad is.  Advertising on TV requires not only reach but also frequency as well to get the message across to the target audience.

However, social marketing is not a mass media platform, it is a direct marketing medium. As such, it can be more efficient at targeting your market — at a lower cost.

I agree whole heatedly agree with Ritson that marketing must begin with strategy – not budgets and not specifically with social media budgets.

Many marketing strategies will ultimately result in recommending social media strategies.  This is logical for two reasons – first, it’s where a lot of the market is, and second for many of small and medium enterprises it is all that they can afford to promote their business.   

I agree with Ritson in that Digital and Traditional should not operate in silos, but unlike him, I don’t agree that social media as part of the marketing mix is a waste of time.



[3] Yellow Social Media Report (June 2018).

[4] ibid

Published by cynthiaburgin

Cynthia Burgin a senior marketer with over 15 years experience in marketing and communicatons in Australia and Asia pacific markets. She has Masters of Business (Marketing) and am studying Digital Marketing and Marketing Analytics at RMIT to refresh my skills after an absence from the Industry.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Cynthia. Great blog. Think it is your best so far. You need someone to proof read though. Happy to oblige. AD

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    Point taken – thanks for your feedback – I have corrected the spelling and grammar.


  2. Hey Cynthia, I do believe that to be more efficient social media should be used along with traditional, saying that is a waste of time i don’t think so, he took specific numbers and what he analyzed doesn’t mean that it is representative of all the brands but i do believe that the amount of followers is not well representative of the actual audience that engages with the brand though. It may be more effective depending on the brand, its popularity already and its purpose using social media, how responsive as well as the chosen platform to use.


    1. Aurelie – I agree that Prof Ritson used specific numbers for companies to imply that Social media marketing is a waste of time. I think he completely overlooked the aspect of social media marketing where companies can have a dialogue with customers – instead of just playing ads. There is more value for companies in getting to know and understand their customers through social media conversations.


  3. Hi Cynthia great post! I totally agree with you as social media isn’t useless as it is part of marketing tools engaging people to follow and at least purchase your brand’s items. In my opinion, if Social media are widely used by companies it is mainly due to their lower costs and as millennials are considered as an hyperconnected generation; advertising on various social media platforms might bring more awareness than any other traditional media.
    I’m not saying that firms might forget using traditional media when advertising to consumers but I strongly believe that some new media are way more effective than traditional media.


    1. I believe that one type of media isn’t better or superior to another – but using them together can be very powerful. With traditional media you get the mass effect – but with social media you can actually create a dialogue with your customer on a one-to-one basis – something traditional media could never achieve.


  4. Watching this guy speak in his seminars really triggered me – he puts down social media marketing so much, despite it’s results in the past few years for so many businesses and individuals out there. It has resulted in such a money making tool. Investment returns if the strategy is done well cannot even be measured. You cannot even measure the results of traditional media advertising/marketing these days… your ad could reach 50 million people via TV ads, but how do you know that it reached the right audience? How do you know that you’ll be converting that audience? It’s a hit and miss situation. There are no analytics to work on. Whereas with social media marketing you could target a specific target audience, analyse data, analyse results, also the benefits of social media marketing is that people will always know that the content is there for them to go and have a look back at, whereas with traditional its generally a hit and miss with TV ads, billboards, radio, pamphlets, brochures, magazines etc. Social Media constantly is able to remind you of the brand, the product, the service, and the comments section provides you feedback generally from customers that shape up the product/service the brand is offering. I feel like i trust user/consumer feedback on social media more than anything these days – collab with google feedback, i’m satisfied. I belive it’s more effective these days but is much more competitive because the budget for it is small which makes it easy for all businesses to implement this strategy.I feel like you know to execute your content well to be able to get a return on investment. But nah, I cant see it being outdated – every product and service has a place where it will promoted/marketed, some will do better via traditional marketing, some will do better social media – depending on the audience you’re targeting.


    1. I agree with you, social media is effective, targetted and provides the company with a dialogue with customers on a one-to-one basis – something that television as we know it now cannot do. I think the point of him being controversial is to gain attention – and he did do that.
      I think the presentation by Prof Ritson also came across as you can have traditional media – and this is what you get – and you can have social media – and this is what you get – but he failed to account for the fact in the real world marketers will use both traditional and social media to promote their brands. Mark Ritson is actually a very knowledgable and entertaining marketing lecturer. I was surprised at how ‘extreme’ he was with his views about social media – because he uses it quite effectively to promote himself.


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