Monday, February 16, 2015

Was Oreo's Super Bowl Tweet A Waste Of Time?


If you follow the social media scepticism of Bob Hoffman over at The Ad Contrarian, you might want to watch the above video.

But if you haven't got time to watch it, here are the highlights:

Mark Ritson, an English guy who is professor of marketing at Melbourne Business School, calculates that the famous Oreo Super Bowl tweet ("You can still dunk in the dark") - which according to one online publication "won the Super Bowl" - was in fact seen by only 64,300 people. Compared with the over 100 million who saw the TV ads.

Next point. For most big brands, only 2-3% of their customers have liked them on Facebook. "If social media is supposed to be a conversation, it's a bloody quiet conversation," says Ritson. "97.5% of their customers aren't listening."

He cites the case of Australian bank NAB, who have six people in their social media team, but in the previous week, only 276 people had engaged with the brand via Facebook. Out of a total customer base of 12 million. When properly rounded, that's an engagement rate of 0%.

Those are the facts. So what do we do about them?

This is where I part company with Ritson.

He reckons brands "aren't welcome" on social media, and that for most marketers, "social media is mostly a waste of time." He suggests the NAB social media team switch to other duties.

I don't see it the same way.

What if the early television advertisers had been told that people wanted to watch the programmes, not ads, and that they should give up?

Let's say that a brand's current Facebook strategy is not working. The solution is not to quit. The correct response is to find a way to make it work.

Globally, Facebook has 1.35 billion monthly active users. And Twitter has 284 million.


Get on it, people.


Anonymous said...

Nice comment simon. For further evidence of mr ritzsons marketing nouse have a look at the ad he claimed was ad of the year!

Anonymous said...

I must admit, after reading more than a few ill informed analyses ( from Mark Ritson on varying topics, he has definitely exhausted my attention. I think this is not dissimilar to others and therefore to feed his profile has had to make more and more outrageous claims. Absolute hack!

Ed Elias said...

He fails to mention the relative costs... To make and post the tweet was probably half an hour of a social media manager's time... versus $4m (?) for the Super Bowl timeslot - not to mention the cost of making a TVC! Maybe another $1m?

For NAB's social media team: it's a bit of a cheap shot. They're not my client, but I know most of their time is spent on customer service, rather than social media specifically.

Finally - that number of 64,000 is so low... that tweet has now been featured in magazines, websites, articles in the WSJ, Wired... so even though click-through to that tweet may not be that high, you can be sure that millions of people have seen it now... vs some of the very forgettable TVCs featured that day.

Scamp said...

I don't know if this video is dissimilar to his other analyses or not, since I haven't seen the others. But I do think your 'hack' comment, on the evidence of this video, is not at all justified. He produced reams of evidence to support his theory. It's well-reasoned, well-thought-out stuff. The exact opposite of hackery. One can't question his evidence although, as stated, I strongly disagree with what action we should take in regards to it.

Unknown said...

why do we have to make it work? plenty of other platforms/channels/mediums to get in front of the masses. Let's leave people in peace to browse cat videos, have inane conversations and look at pictures of your neighbour's lunch and/or toddler.

Anonymous said...

I think the point that social media critics like Bob and Mark are trying to make is that the solution to making social media advertising more effective is more like traditional broadcast mediums than many care to admit. As you correctly point out Facebook and Twitter have massive monthly audience numbers but the only way to reach an audience comparable to say TV, is to pay for it. Engagement, Likes, and Shares are all irrelevant if they are only reaching a tiny proportion of total users. If we are to judge the effectiveness of a SM advert it should therefore focus on the reach, and quality of the creative (which Likes etc can help to assess). So yes there is a solution for effective advertising on SM channels - make sure it's a great ad (be it video, a post or other) and make sure you to pay for it to reach enough consumers.

Anonymous said...

OMG that is so interesting.

As someone once said to me .....there is money in mystery.
In the last 5- 10 years there has been a lot of money made by a new breed of social media /digital/WOM shops.

Clients don't understand how and even IF Social Media works, but they don't want to miss out so they throw money at it, hoping some of it sticks.

Anonymous said...

Yes we have to make it work. We simply can't allow people to exist without trying to sell them stuff. (Extra points for toeing the company line and feigning enthusiasm for social media.)

Martin Headon said...

Possibly a slightly false equivalence in your conclusion. In TV, the question was how to make the advertising between programmes more engaging, entertaining, and effective. In social, the question has been how brands can insert themselves into the actual purpose of the site - content and conversation. That's why it has so far failed.

Only when we understand that the web and social media sites are simply another media space, will brands be able to get anything meaningful or measurable from it.

Anonymous said...

It's been ten years since facebook and twitter came into existence and it still looks like no one has "figured it out". Whad'ya reckon Scamp, shall we give it another 5 and then call it quits?

Steve May said...

New technology arrives and it takes time for us to figure out the best way to use it to advantage a brand. Been happening since the first radio ad (which would have sucked big time as it was an alien concept back then). In the world of 'social', we'll master it. Give it time.

What bugs me (and has done for my entire career in this game), are the 'experts' who float into an agency, tell us TV is dead, Radio is dead, 'everyone will be using Blackberries, as iPhones will only be used by Creative Directors in advertising agencies' (yup, that's a quote from a heavy hitter in the ad game).

It's all bullshit.

None of it has died. They live, added to the mix. And like baking the perfect cake, not every ingredient is added at identical proportions.

To make advertising magic, you need a pinch of this, a bit of that, and more of this.

Yes, there's a place for social. Just as there's a place for a million dollar commercial in the Super Bowl, and a flyer in a mail box.

GOUT-LEGS said...

look at the cities we live in.
they're not re-built from scratch every generation.
they're built on the back of what was their before.
Not replacing it, just adding to it and sometimes adapting it.

it's the same in every industry and civilisation.

even in medicine, the latest fan-dangled craze sits happily along side a stethoscope and a cough and drop.

Anonymous said...

I think Martin's got it right. But I would go further. I'm not sure we'll ever figure out social media marketing any more than we'll figure out how to insert ads into people's everyday conversations. It's just not a natural place for brands to be. Someday we might insinuate brands into people's personal lives and social media marketing will feel more natural. But for now, maybe the best clients can hope for is really good banner ads sitting beside people's search results.

Social media marketing, in general, feels like more of an arms race than any real strategic undertaking. Clients feel like they just have to post something because their competitors do. They need to be funny because their competitors are. The type of content is determined by what their competitors post. I can't count the number of times I've had social media proposals killed where the justifications are based more on what the category norms are than on the strategic and creative insights.

Jim Powell said...

Commercial TV exists because of TV commercials not vice a versa. If TV did not have commercials how would the programmes get made? It wasn't much of a choice really, was it? Commercial TV is an alternative to State TV. The business model involved advertising from day 1.

With social media platforms I am very unsure if it was the same business model thinking. It seems that he platforms were created as social comms tools and they were good at this - but how to make the mulla? They could charge to use them on a subscription model maybe. Or they could get brands involved / sponsorship etc.

One story went that people wanted to engage with brands and include them in their social affairs. That people were fans and loyal to brands they were a kin to human relationships. People enjoyed having chats about and with brands. This hasn't quite worked out. Theory v practice in many cases.

So many SM platforms have turned to (give or take) advertising to fund themselves. Isn't that the case today?

Is it working though? Even many SM gurus say it is not - but that SM is best as a customer service channel for example. It is becoming a God of the gaps argument - I know you are familiar with that one Scamp. How comes you are an Atheist and yet dislike evidence and rationality? Maybe not now aye?

As for the argument SM is cheaper than TV - there must be reason for that based on value - no? Everything is cheaper than TV just about. Maybe the odd expensive bill board in Picadilly Circus. Or sponsoring the UK Premier League.

I think the point is that Oreo is the best of the case studies not the worse of them. That's the poster boy. Up there with Red Bull (how much did that cost).

And what Oreo did is fine but the numbers don't lie, it's actual impact is to the left of the decimal point. And that is fine, it was a success for sure.. That is it working Scamp - what do you want from it? I can't see any way of doing much better than Oreo's case study in question really than interrupting a huge audience of TV (underline TV) watchers

Anonymous said...

Give up on it. People go on social media to talk to each other not to bog cleaner.

jeff said...

Is it true to say we've figured out any media? It seems to me that the large majority of ads running anywhere are whopping failures. That's because no ad is "welcome" anywhere. Ads are intrusions that have the onus on them to earn people's attention and acceptance.

That's always been the case. Even when people are driving down the road, or idly reading a magazine, or watching TV they aren't thinking "gee, I hope this entertaining part ends soon so I can get to the ads!"

Social media is no different it's just that the pace is way, way accelerated. News, jokes, everything gets stale way quicker because people are constantly hopping on to the next big thing. If you're a brand tweeting about your new Widget the same way over and over and over that's not going to get you anywhere.

So the real problem isn't really rooted in social media at all. It's in the mentality that people really care about the messages we're putting out in the world. Broadcast mentality. It's the reason why so many ads are so bad or, worse, unmemorable.

People inside of agencies and brands have throughly convinced themselves that people will go absolutely bonkers if only they hear about this latest thing. So any wit, charm, and relevance gets thrown out before anything reaches people.

Social media may be one of the most frustrating, least rewarding endeavors in advertising today but if it's "mostly a waste of time" then isn't everything else we do a waste of time, too?

Kate Richardson said...

People are still trying to create half decent ads for radio all these years later and not doing so well

Scamp said...

Excellent points, Jeff and Kate. Exactly what I meant, except you said it much better than I did!

mark teece said...

Part of the issue is the term 'social media'. We talk about it like it's one big thing. But people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. in completely different ways. Each needs its own strategy.

The other thing I would say is that people expect to see ads on TV. Yes the advert slot is an intrusion. But at least it's an intrusion people know is coming. So they can choose to get up and go check on the dinner, or they can sit there and give the ads a chance. Who knows? One of them might be quite entertaining.

I don't know how the TV advert slot came about. Maybe that's what you mean, Scamp, about the early days of TV advertising. That advertisers kept searching for ways to reach people through TV, until the advert slot was established. But at the moment, I'm not sure there is such a thing on Facebook or Twitter. For me that's the problem. I'm never expecting ads on these sites. So when they do pop up I scroll past with haste.

As much as people hate them, YouTube pre-roll ads are slowly becoming established. The unskippable one are similar to TV ads in that they force people to watch (or you can do something else for 30 seconds). Maybe advertisers should start by making better YouTube ads and go from there.

Scamp said...

Very true. I probably see more YouTube ads than TV ads nowadays. And yes, they are essentially TV ads themselves - you have to watch them in-between watching what you actually want to watch.

mark teece said...