$3,000,000: the early estimate on how much a 30-second ad in the next Super Bowl will cost. TV advertising isn't dead -- although content may be time-shifted via DVR, internet video, and mobile downloads, some programs just aren't any good when they're not fresh.
A weekly sitcom or drama is like a can of tuna; you can put it on the shelf and it'll stay good indefinitely. But some content - like sports and news - are highly perishable and more like sushi; it's not very appealing after it's been out for a while. On top of that, many people hate football but watch the Super Bowl just for the ads. The NFL season hasn't even started yet, but NBC is coming off the most viewed event in U.S. TV history.
"But wait!" you say. "What about social media? Customers in control! Advertising doesn't work anymore!" I've been thinking about these issues quite a bit lately and have to break it to you, social media marketing doesn't scale. Most experts agree - social media fits works best as part of an integrated mix, but not at either end of the marketing funnel: the front (building awareness) or the end (driving purchases). For the latter, shopper marketing and direct tactics guided by analytics work best. For the former, mass media works best.
When will a social media marketing campaign be able to claim that it reached 209 million people over a three week period? How about 715 million people for a single event?
$3,000,000 will get you a lot of social marketing stuff. For a category manager, you can set up get your brand portfolio hooked up quite nicely with an enterprise-level brand monitoring contract, a handful of virtual private communities, widgets galore, some sponsored Facebook pages, WOM campaigns, and more. You'll probably even have enough left over to hire the people you need to monitor and manage all those things, because your current skeleton crew has enough to handle in the name of "budget accountability."
But when you work for a public company like P&G and have to generate *billions* of dollars in top-line growth every year, is "conversational marketing" going to get the job done? In the long-run, probably. The seeds of tomorrow's basis for competitive advantage (i.e. strategy) are being sown today. But in the short-run, marketers need to show results and hang on to their jobs.
Social technologies can help marketers get ready for the new brand world of tomorrow, by building a solid internal foundation today. So I say spend it on the ad and lock in the low rate now. What do you think?
Peter is Chief Strategy Officer of Dachis Group and a leading advisor on social business. He co-authored the book Social Business By Design and drives global industry discourse at beingpeterkim.com and as @peterkim on Twitter.
Peter has been quoted by media outlets including CNN, CNBC, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal and featured as a speaker at events including SXSW, Web 2.0 Expo, and Dachis Group Social Business Summits.
Peter was previously an analyst at Forrester Research and head of international marketing operations, e-commerce, and digital marketing at PUMA AG. He holds degrees from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania.