Wanamaker Revisited | Article | FTI Consulting

Wanamaker Revisited

“All but 1.25% of my digital advertising is wasted, and I know exactly where the junk is.”

Corporate Finance & Restructuring | Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT)

June 28, 2017


“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”- John Wanamaker, attributed1 US department store merchant (1838 – 1922)

Chase Bank cut digital ad buys to 5,000 sites from 400,000 this spring with no effect on performance.2 While the cutbacks were motivated by fear of exposure to offensive content and false news, what Chase discovered may herald profound change in digital advertising, and provide a formidable argument in favor of the proverbial choice of quality over quantity.

Chase recently brought its programmatic ad buying in house and cut-back ad distribution originally from 400,000 sites. In the process it found that only 12,000 sites delivered actions by consumers. Of the 12,000 sites, Chase then determined that it could consider only 5,000 (1.25%) of them to be “safe”… sites free from offense and falsehoods.

So despite Chase deciding to distribute on only a small fraction of possible sites, digital ad performance didn’t change and costs remained the same. We believe that the potentially profound implications of Chase’s recent digital ad campaign merit a deeper look.

1 The Quotations Page; http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/John_Wanamaker/
2 New York Times, March 29, 2017; https://nyti.ms/2ozWVav

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