Wednesdays without Will: The Price of Social

Discussing the future of advertising or even just the role of digital and the Internet on advertising has one consistent truth: with digital, we are better able to target our advertising to a person’s interest, and, going forward, that process will get more and more exact. However, the effectiveness of digital advertising–especially with social media–remains a less developed study than traditional advertising.

As recently as 2011, Ad Age’s sibling publication BtoB noted that 75% of marketers had no ROI attribution program in place to measure social media’s effectiveness. This can lead to marketers spending too little on social media because they don’t know how to measure its effect and misjudge its worth.

Sometimes that point of view is correct. You may have heard of the Dollar Shave Club after their YouTube commercial went viral. The video, which plays on the current trend of masculinity represented through brands like Old Spice, extolled the virtues of their $1 per month razor blade subscription service with self-deprecating and somewhat crude humor to much success.

 

 

Recently, Dollar Shave Club began moving to television ads. While some may see this as a company’s success allowing them to expand, it also gives the impression they’re moving backward. Countless companies set out to make viral videos, but only a few of them actually succeed. A viral video would seem to have a tremendous ROI, but, according to the Dollar Shave Club, they would be better off spending on traditional media. That’s especially surprising given this a company whose product is not available in stores—only online.

Convertro, a cross-media attribution service, handles a new media version of direct response TV advertising for Dollar Shave Club that tries to measure a link between people seeing a commercial and visiting a website.  And according to the Dollar Shave Club, hitting the right time of day with those ads makes for cheaper conversions than they were seeing online.

Obviously, when brands do have the tools and information necessary to determine the ROI of social media vs. traditional media, it should be easy to make a decision about where marketers put their money. The industry’s collective naivety about generating the appropriate metrics for social media make it difficult to determine whether social media isn’t as big of a purchase driver than traditional media is or if brands are just using and measuring it incorrectly. It’s early yet, and it may just take time before brands crack the code on social advertising.

Cover Photo Source: Ron Dale

Kaz is a Junior Executive at SJG. He earned BAs in English Writing and Business Marketing at Illinois Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing an MA in Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin. Outside the office, Kaz consumes gobs of media including but not limited to books, magazines, music, movies and television.