Widget Marketing: Sure Hype We Get It Right
What trend is the most overhyped from the perspective of a major advertiser?
1. Widgets (31%)
2. Mobile platforms (30%)
3. Social Networking (22%)
4. Paid Search (11%)
5. Video (6%)
I'm a competitive guy. If there's a list and I'm on it, I want to be at the top. So seeing 'Widgets' at the top of this discussion from the ANA conference already gives me a sense of triumph.
That's some dignified company at the table Widgets were invited to join. Paid Search, Video, Social Networking, Mobile -- for widgets already to have the mindshare to be compared to these tactical stalwarts by the world's leading marketers is a victory in itself.
But given the context, is it ultimately a pyrrhic victory? To so determine, we have to start by questioning the question, and analyzing the analysis. First, asking which is "the most overhyped" among the set is like going into a pre-school and pointing out the tallest person.
Sure, 4-year-old Matthias might have a full three-quarters of an inch over 3-year-old Kayla, so he's the "most tall" in a relative sense. But that doesn't necessarily indicate young Matthias' absolute tallness, in the same way the poll question doesn't indicate widgets' absolute overhypetitude.
Secondly, the question asks for "the perspective of a major advertiser." But it isn't clear how many of the respondents themselves are major advertisers. (Looking at the responses, my first guess is that the respondents were comprised largely of Search Marketing firms.) So the question may very well have been interpreted as "how do you think other people would respond to this question," which is a useful query in some forms of psychoanalysis, but not so much for quantitative assessment.
And what is a "major advertiser" anyway? Is it a CMO at a company with a $100 million+ media budget? Anyone in the marketing department at these companies? A CMO or VP of Marketing at any company? A media director, planner or buyer at an agency? It isn't clear, but highly relevant, as all of these people are currently directly involved in buying widget marketing campaigns, depending on the client.
But let's suspend our statistical skepticism for bit and make the long leap towards accepting the question and its response as a valid representation of how marketers feel. Leading marketers believe that widgets are overhyped. Should widgeteers still crow about their chart-topping results?
Positively. Being "overhyped" is quite possibly the best thing that could happen to widget marketing right now, and speaks volumes about how advertisers are already considering it.
Hype is not unlike buzz, but with a very important qualitative distinction. Both are about masses of people contributing to a conversation on a topic, which sometimes rises above discourse and becomes a din. But hype connotes potential, and some expectation of achievement or success or other goodness. There is no potential in buzz - its power, in fact, is because it is immediate, current, kinetic.
So I hear about this Instapoll and I don't see marketers quick to pan widgets as the industry's next unfulfilled promise. Because I know these marketers and I do business with them every day, and they're giving me a different interpretation of what this data seems to suggest.
They're approaching widget marketing already with very high expectations of what it can do to help them achieve their campaign objectives. It is a very different approach to their "testing" of video ads, "experimenting" with a mobile campaign, or even "having a presence" in Search. Already they are seeing widget marketing as a powerful component to campaigns, and fully expect it to live up to this expectation.
In a sense, Hype is Hope. Widgets are the first format that allows advertisers to participate in conversations online in a way that is engaging, impactful and -- significantly -- scaleable. Unlike most forms of video and mobile and display advertising, widgets swim with the prevailing current, not against it. And they offer perhaps the least fettered creative palette of any ad format as well, limited only by a brand's own positioning.
They are not a panacea though, and if anyone says otherwise you can tell them they are full of, er, hype.