Wednesday, 20 May 2009

'Social Media' Are NOT 'Advertising Media'

Comment to Joe Mandese's article on MediaPost.com: Social Media Fails To Manifest As Marketing Medium, Report Likens Twitter To TiVo: More Hype Than Reality

Don said: "Be part of their conversation not an annoyance to it." Right, but what that speaks to is NOT that social media are collectively a new advertising 'channel'. His statement highlights the nature of social media versus advertising media.

Two people never have never participated in a real-time conversation over TV programs or TV ads. When was the last time you truly appreciated a telemarketing solicitation? When have you ever really said "Oh! Thanks!" to email spam ads? Whenever human conversation moves to a new communication medium, a bunch of opportunists rush to turn it into an advertising medium, sometime successfully, but usually not.

My point is that people have a 'marketing intrusion threshold' that defines what media they are WILLING to accept brand messages over. I LIKE the idea of LBS ads as I can choose to block or accept them on my mobile device. I don't mind ads before a movie because I'm stuck in the theatre seat anyway and I've got nothing else to do. I don't mind seeing product placement in movies/shows, as long as it is cleverly and seamlessly done. I DON'T want an ad message to interrupt me in the middle of a phone call with a friend, no matter HOW relevant it is to me.

So while we're all debating the value of so-called 'social media', let's separate media with true advertising potential from those through which it would only be intrusive. Experimentation to uncover what people's acceptance threshold is is fine, but we should pay close attention to the results and, as an industry, build in the blocking tools to prevent another email spam phenomena from killing a potential golden goose, be it Facebook, or Twitter, or the next.

Some media have advertising potential, but a lot of others don't, and any medium that is 'social' in nature is likely NOT a channel ripe for 'push' marketing messages (think SecondLife). Sure, there are new places we can place branded messages and influence conversations, but I believe people will inform us, loudly and clearly, that MOST social media should be left to conversations alone. While I applaud some media for not becoming advertising channels, there are others that are merely missing an enormous opportunity, like Wikipedia. I don't think anyone would mind seeing banner ads relevant to the subject you are searching for there, but I could do with a lot fewer 'app invitations' on Facebook.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed reading your posts about social media. You're the first one I've come across who feels the way I do about outlets such as Facebook. I use it strictly for keeping in touch with friends and family, and I have no interest in using it for business purposes and I don't want to be bombarded by marketing messages while using it. I don't go crazy on LinkedIn and send out requests to every person I shake hands with - I only have people on there that I have significant experience with and would truly recommend in "real life." I refuse to get a Twitter account because I don't care to know what people are doing every minute of the day.

    Keep up the good work!

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