A Tale Of Two Media

It was the best for advertising, it was the worst for advertising, it was an age of advertising wisdom, it was an age of advertising foolishness...


Okay, I am definitely stretching looking to Dickens for ways to describe the current debate on social media's viability as an advertising and marketing medium. But you have to admit, it's almost impressive that with so many smart people looking at a singular issue -- how to best adapt advertising and marketing to work in social media -- that we still have such a wide range of opinions.

Some argue that social media is the best for advertising because, in effect, social media is a digital representation of word-of-mouth, advertising's holy grail. Advertisers will be able to measure how much "conversation" their advertising efforts drive and, hopefully, become part of the conversation.

Some argue that social media is the worst for advertising because is social media is a conversation between people, and while brands can finally see what people are talking about, there is no room for them to deliver their carefully prepared marketing messages. In addition, there has yet to be a proven repeatable method of reaching people at scale using social media, at least in an appropriate manner.



Some argue that we are entering anage of advertising wisdom because in order for advertising to succeed in social media, we will see its evolution from a brass interruptive model of simple message delivery to a permission-based iterative model of advertising communications. Finally, necessity will force truly integrated advertising, PR, research and CRM.

Some argue that we are entering anage of advertising foolishness because advertisers are fooling themselves in thinking that people want their products to be the center of their personal conversations -- that it is foolish to think that human emotions and reactions can truly be quantitatively measured. People will point to one failed "user-generated advertising" contest after another.

What's funny is that all of these arguments are correct. I use the term "social media" a lot in this column, but only to distinguish between media that could easily broadcast content and marketing messages versus "social media," which presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for content and marketing delivery and interaction. It is very possible that eventually all media will be "social media," and as such will require rethinking content creation and advertising integration. But today the debate is not only on the best way for advertisers to reach people in social media, but if advertisers should even be able to reach people in social media at all.

Which side of the fence are you on? Best or worst? Wisdom or foolishness? @ me on Twitter at and share your thoughts on the Spin board.

4 comments about "A Tale Of Two Media".
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  1. Kelly Wenzel from Centro, July 28, 2009 at 4:06 p.m.

    I personally liked the Dickens analogy and the way you lay out the arguments accordingly. Nicely done.

  2. Mike Patterson from WIP, Inc., July 28, 2009 at 5:46 p.m.

    Could be best, sometimes is worst...sometimes is wise, sometimes foolish. :) One has to choose the right weapon for the battle.

    I think it suffices to say that no one has figured it out yet!

  3. Michael Senno from New York University, July 29, 2009 at 8:01 a.m.

    Enjoy the creativity you bring to the table each week - entertaining to say the least.

    I think Mike has pinpointed with the "sometimes" reference, but not because nobody has figured it out, rather because it's not for every brand. For some brands social media fits like the glass slipper and can unleash its product/service through social marketing. For others it becomes evident they are in it because they have to be, and have no reason to work with social media and no idea how to work with social - for them its foolish.

  4. Pierre Bellanger from Orbus SA, August 2, 2009 at 9:06 a.m.


    Related to this article, I think this link may interest the readers : Best regards, Pierre Bellanger, founder and ceo.

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