Chris Brogan writes (in a great post you need to read here):
How much does one of those opportunities cost? It can’t be cheap to put up a billboard in an airport, right? That same amount would fund a social media project for an entire year, and you’d have clickable metrics for the effort. Wouldn’t that be a better return?
Did Chris remember the name of the company sponsoring the phone/laptop charging station (Samsung)? The Advertising worked (and got the fringe benefit of promotion on Chris’ blog)
Did Chris remember those Vending Machines in the airport (Apple and Best Buy)?? The Advertising worked (” fringe benefit” comment again).
Did Chris remember the 2 billboards before the Hudson News stand? How about the 2 page spread in the middle of this month’s WIRED? The 12 commercials that ran between when you sat down at Fox Sports Bar and when you got up?
The two examples he used (Samsung charging stations and the Apple or Best Buy vending machines) worked because they either provided immediate value (needing to juice up, a HUGE problem in most airports, or chargers, iPods, etc.) or potential future value. They fit within his/yours/my context. If my mom was travelling at the same time, she wouldnt notice who sponsored the power, because she doesnt travel with devices that need power. She might notice the Apple vending machines because they are novel/unique to her, but 5 years from now she will ignore them because they will be commonplace.
Billboards are a “shotgun” approach (with a ton of metrics behind it). The hope is, the right person happens to walk by who happens to have that product or service as part of their context (along with Direct Marketing phone, email, URL to let them find out more AND to let the marketer see effectiveness) or the creative in the ad connects with the user (for a brand campaign – the iconic APPLE ads are a great example of this). In the case of Brand ads, the marketer is paying for impressions (and they pay through the nose – those boards aren’t cheap). In the case of ads with some kind of direct component, the ROI can be (to a certain extent) measured. There are impressions and clickthrough rates to measure against. Is it personal? Nope.
Here is the thing: this stuff, these traditional techniques (print, radio, tv, out-of-home, ad banners, PR, etc.) aren’t going away. Sure, more of the budget is going to digital, but not all of it. There are more of them (less digitally savvy or complete luddites) than there are of us (people reading this, living this, sharing this thing of ours). Marketers still think of us in terms of CONSUMERS and demographics. The reason the old school isn’t going away, the reason we don’t have the advertising apocalypse is because of one thing – IT STILL WORKS.
While we keep saying Social Media is no longer an experiment, we need to keep the marketer’s context in mind. The CMO wants to be innovative, and the brand manager wants to change the world, but both have numbers (leads, impressions, brand value, etc.) that they have to meet to be successful, to grow their brand, get their bonus or in some cases keep their job (the avg lifespan of a CMO is currently something like 22 months). No one ever got fired for doing yet another Direct Mail campaign (where a 1% response rate is considered successful), billboard or tv/radio spot – they are part of the marketing mix. Even ad banners get clickthroughs and they are the “ritz crackers” (low value, not tasty or very effective) of digital advertising.
Small, growing and new brands can go all-in on Digital and Social because they need an edge, and the edge is reach and cost and hopefully shortcut the need for brand recognition and jump right to a relationship. P&G knows it needs Social and is working towards it for the long term (the same thing they did with radio and TV). Ford and GM know they need it, but have to work harder to connect emotionally and with passion (two things that are kinda requirements). If all you do is SELL SELL SELL, its kinda hard to “start a conversation” – you have to invest a lot (time, money, humility) to get respect and to get people to listen. That investment is happening now.
As the Social Media side of Digital grows and matures (and we get more news like the Dell metrics) it can make the case to take a bigger piece of the marketing pie. Digital is no longer sitting at the kids table when it comes to the Agency-Client relationship. Digital is getting more and more budget because it is effective and less expensive and has greater, time-agnostic reach. Sure, we might start shooting commercials for Hulu (or whatever replaces it) and we may see more immersive and experiential and integrated efforts in the future, but the Old School isn’t going away. An ad agency I interviewed a few months ago WILL NOT HIRE an account, strategist or creative without digital in the portfolio or CV. Its becoming that important.
But Social can be the “red thread” that ties the traditional and the digital together, make them more connected, connecting, relevant and responsive. Social (listening, outreach, participatory) can start changing the marketing mindset from campaign to commitment. But that is going to take time.
In 10 years we will have Marketers (CMOs and Brand Managers) who have grown up with Digital in their toolbox from the beginning. Thats when things will start getting weird (in a good way).
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