My latest rant, up on the Amex Open Forum Blog. From it:
The debate is as old as the web itself – what is the role of marketing in a medium that is so clearly driven by interaction and communication? I have a lot of thoughts about this topic, but a recent Ad Age article roused me to address one of the most irritating myths out there: That somehow social media and marketing don’t mix.
Titled “P&G Digital Guru Not Sure Marketers Belong on Facebook,” the article quotes Ted McConnell, Manager of Digital Marketing Innovation at P&G in Cincinnati. The money quote: “What in heaven’s name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?”
As I read on, I became certain that the article, which has gotten a lot of attention given P&G’s profile in the marketing world, took what was clearly McConnell’s nuanced view and gave it all the subtlety of a Michael Bay film.
“Social networks may never find the ad dollars they’re hunting for because they don’t really have a right to them, said Ted McConnell,” the article begins. It then goes on to lay out the reasoning behind such an assumptive lead: McConnell doesn’t like random banner ads, and Facebook’s targeting, which purportedly solves the issue of randomness, leaves him cold. Given those two things, Ad Age drew what I must say is an extremely lazy conclusion: Advertising on social networks doesn’t work – look, a senior guy from Proctor says so!
Well, I’m here to call bull on this myth. And I’m pretty sure McConnell would agree with me.
Let’s break it down. To begin with, the article makes this easy assumption: Social networks are “hunting for ad dollars.” That presumes a very traditional approach to media – that social networks have traditional packaged goods media assets (like, say, a television show or a magazine), and are out “big game hunting” – IE, trying to sell proximity to those assets to “big game” like P&G.
But as I’ve argued (over and over and over) social media “assets” don’t look like packaged goods assets, and neither should social media marketing. As McConnell rightly pointed out, you can’t barge into the middle of an intimate social situation, yell “buy my stuff!” and then leave. A brand that does that will certainly be remembered – as an clod.