John Wanamaker

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

I know 2016 has a bad reputation on social media, but I think overall it’s been a good year for marketing. We have more measurable, targeted channels than ever before, more tools to help use them and more data to refine how we use them.

Cable news penetration is peanuts. In a recent prime-time viewing hour of 8:00 to 9:00 p.m., the total audience was: O'Reilly, Fox: 2,492,000; Anderson Cooper, CNN: 564,000; Chris Hayes, MSNBC: 608,000. This results in the not-so-grand total of 3,664,000, 1.1 percent of the US population of 320 million.

Our ancestors had plenty of time to adjust to those new-fangled devices we now call primitive tools. After all, agriculture wouldn't come along to change their world again for another 400,000 years.

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." These words, most frequently attributed to American entrepreneur John Wanamaker after the turn of the 20th century, are no less vexing to marketers 100 years later.

Nothing-nothing!-bugs me more than advertising writers who call TV ads "winners" because they're the "best-remembered" and/or "most-liked."

Did the ad sell anything? What was the ROI?

Belinda Goldsmith of Reuters reported that roughly 1 billion people-15% of the world's population-watched some or all of the Olympic opening ceremonies, a TV spectacular that ran four and a half hours.

I watched the next morning via the DVR recording device that is part of our DIRECTV service. By judicious fast-forwarding-and avoiding ads and the procession of the athletes-I saw what was worth seeing in 90 minutes.

I don't watch TV commercials.

Cutesy-poo creativity and the "hard sell" repeated over and over ad nauseam do nothing for me. When you're 73, quality time gets precious.

I'm not alone.

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