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"Media Bias Can Be Costly"

Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Media Bias Can Be Costly," discusses how media bias can be detrimental to achieving successful outcomes in an ever-evolving and complicated marketing climate. Additional pressure relative to time-sensitive scenarios can further exacerbate the decision-making process, and in many cases, may prove to be pernicious. Solution-based decisions need to be free of biases to maneuver changes effectively and efficiently. Our brains are programmed to pursue simple solutions, and in most cases, rely on time-saving methods to arrive at that decision. Shortcuts can allow bias to creep in and become influential because of their simplicity. It is what makes best practices so popular.  Simply put, best practices lead to favoring forecasts, trends, predictability, and past precedents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with understanding best practices and the predictability factors associated with decision-making. However, our rapidly changing media landscape requires more care due to media bias and predictable mindsets. Biases are wrought with preconceived notions and can be precarious on many levels. Biases can seep into any system, including the media landscape. Therefore, it is essential to identify biases, the impacts that can arise as a result of biases, and how those biases might impact daily lifestyle behaviors. 

For example, the day's leading news relates to the coronavirus and its new variants. The rise of the variant Omicron, coupled with another global wave of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the Delta variant, is driving behavior. Although vaccination rates are increasing, the news is bleak. Why? Aside from medical experts warning of behaviors that run counterproductive to managing the disease, there is a bias within the population that Covid-19 is not real and that the condition is just a hoax.  Consequently, several biases ultimately drive some to resist health guidelines despite the surge of variants and the effectiveness of the vaccines. Likewise, multiple biases can impact media and marketing and become detrimental to creating viable marketing strategies. This blog will review the most common media biases and how to avoid or at least manage them to avoid catastrophes.

Our Quote of the Day: "I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at." — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Bias of the Status Quo
Decisions made based on the state of marketing perceptions versus data are biased. We refer to it as stay the course, tried and true, or any other moniker that continues business as usual. However, maintaining the status quo is problematic if the market is evolving.

Rita Gunther McGrath, a strategic management scholar and professor of management at Columbia Business School, recently stated, "Over the years, what happens to excellent businesses is they optimize around things that are success recipes." However, when an inflection point shifts, what previously worked may not be as successful in the future. We have seen this type of bias impact industry giants. Kodak film comes to mind versus the digital camera or NordicTrack versus Peloton. McGrath notes that smaller, more nimble players can offer different features or benefits at lower price points, thereby cutting into a giant's marketshare. Another example is the Dollar Shave Club, which nibbles away Gillette's market share, down to 59% from 70%. Gillette would do well to rethink its marketing strategy.

Bias by Availability 

Information availability is more important than ever; however, it is critical to avoid overestimating the value of readily available information. Consider the missteps taken by Zillow as it relates to flipping houses in a pandemic market. As reported, Zillow overpaid by double-digits compared to its competitors, such as Trulia and Offerpad. If and when the market turns downward, Zillow, which ultimately shut down its house-flipping unit, has inventory that is at risk of a fire sale.

When there is limited data and attribution in the mix, the lens can produce a negative effect in that it can create media and marketing blindspots.  In a marketingweek.com article, Adidas stated, "We over-invested in digital advertising," with the brand admitting that its digital-only approach was short-sighted, leading it to use last-touch attribution data to influence decision making. Again, failure to go beyond readily available data led Adidas to take shortcuts in its decision-making, thus preventing Adidas from reaching its intended sales goals. Upon further analysis using econometric modeling, Adidas found different business drivers in messaging, audience targeting, and channel budget allocations better suit the company.

Bias in Selection 

Selection bias encapsulates advertising that targets people who are already buyers. All marketers need to maintain the current customer base; however, organizations cannot grow if targeting algorithms fail to identify and lead to new customers. If the advertising platform's algorithm is programmed to search for specific advertiser clicks, those clicks are likely current customers. In that sense, the algorithms generate clicks, but it fails to generate new or extra clicks.  Therefore, making the biased media assumption that ads are placed on a major search engine or social media channel with limited algorithm parameters to attract new business should be reimagined.

Bias for Confirmation 

Selecting data or information that agrees or confirms an existing belief or preconception is a recipe for disaster. In many cases, media perceptions and selection channel choices are invaded by confirmation bias. Marketing thought leader Mark Ritson, explains "Media never dies; it just evolves."

Separate research by Ebiquity, IPA, and thinkTV, illustrates the disconnect between perception versus evidence about media channels. All three surveys identify an over-investment in digital. Digital marketing assumptions need to be carefully examined to avoid investments that fail to deliver the expectations or beliefs of marketers and brands.

Ambiguity Bias

Ambiguity bias can run rapidly within the marketing community. This bias leads to doing more of the same to avoid ambiguous or missing options. Rather than conducting the hard work that can lead to excellent creativity, a positive brand image, and maximum sales, marketers opt for quick wins. It is the proverbial marketing bandwagon, "If they did it, then we'll do it too."

By opting for the familiar, strategic thinking, innovation and creativity are inadvertently removed from the process while easily duplicated by competitors. More importantly, this can lead to generic advertising and marketing that goes unnoticed, failing to stand out from competitive offerings.

An extensive creative effectiveness study conducted of Cannes Lions and WARC by James Human and Peter Field conversely found that high-quality creative leads to brand building and long-term sales growth.  Therefore, forego the bandwagon and create top-of-the-line creativity.

Bias in Similarity

There are benefits to having an identity and identifying with like-minded people. However, marketers that lean towards similarity bias struggle to understand prevailing attitudes or values of different groups or audiences. In a sentence, you are not your customer. Those who fail to grasp this concept struggle with a thorough understanding of the audience they seek to influence.

In 2019, a report entitled, The Empathy Delusion, by Reach Solutions highlighted research suggesting that urban-centricity, ageism, and a lack of industry diversity reduce the ability to connect with groups that aren't like us. The study states, "We are no better at understanding other people's emotions and perspective than the mainstream.  This represents a major problem for an industry whose very success depends on a detailed and thorough understanding of the people it seeks to influence."  

Brands must reject the similarity bias to create messaging that resonates with dissimilar audiences.

The Media Bias
With proof of overspending in digital, coupled with various reports that perceived digital marketing investments fall short of goals, brands should consider the overall marketing mix. There is more on the media buffet than digital. Indeed, print, video, out-of-home, publications, printed collateral, podcasts, games, transit, and other forms of media are also on the table and should be under consideration. Marketers should remain vigilant when examining the attributes and benefits of various media to eradicate media bias while building and engaging with contemporary society.

The Net-Net

There are tons of biases affecting just about everything we do, including our lifestyle choices, medical perceptions, purchasing habits, educational perspectives, and how we respond to advertising and communication efforts. Brands and marketers alike will need to examine whether they rely on biases or be innovative and creative. 2022 requires that we review our preferences to eliminate roadblocks in our quest for a better life and, for brands, a more successful outcome. We implore you to contemplate these bias guidelines as you navigate your perceptions as you plan for the new year. Thanks for reading "Media Bias Can Be Costly!"

Let's talk about integrated business solutions and how they can move your messages forward, help grow your business, change behavior, and improve the customer experience. Let us show you how to improve your document processes to optimize your workflow, reduce costs, and maximize your organization's printing, letter shop, and mailing capabilities. Dove Direct has an official USPS certified bureau located within our offices to save you time and money. We can even create a demo file for you. For more information, call Carla Eubanks at 404-629-0122 or email Carla at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Dove Direct, your Atlanta vertical integrated print and mail solutions provider, offers organizations end-to-end data, printing, and mailing solutions: 

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