Sunday, 15 November 2015

When money talks, the writing is on the wall

"Ad dollars always follow eyeballs, and then muck everything up!".

Prophetic words from a colleague of mine on Friday.

Wherever there are lots of eyeballs, advertising money inevitably follows in quick pursuit.

Over time, those same eyeballs get tired of all the noise, and switch to ad free platforms.

TV is a good example.

Free content subsidised by annoying ad breaks, or pay a subscription and watch uninterrupted. Netflix now the norm. Catch up TV the only way to watch ITV or Ch4.

The big debate in digital marketing on ad blocking is a living example of what happens when marketers abuse a channel full of eyeballs.

Flashing banners, click bait, data hungry autoplay videos, too much junk, and not enough funk. All too forgetful of the reason why the audience had gathered there in the first place, and it wasn't to see them.

Move over websites, move in social media platforms.

One billion active users on Facebook alone. The ability to target 'custom audiences'. Match data. Force feed content. Cheaper than display. Better click through rates. No ad blocking here. Native advertising. Yum yum yum.

Or yuk, yuk, yuk.

The very worldly Stuart Bruce prompted my thinking on LinkedIn this morning.

On Wednesday he's speaking at the Global Alliance supported World Conference on Public Relations in Emerging Economies.

His topic is the future of PR including digital and social.

He asked his network from the global PR community for some quotes that he can share with the delegates.

Mine was thus:

"Social media is in danger of simply becoming another dull marketing channel as advertising money flows on mass into every popular platform, and dialogue becomes one way broadcast. Inevitably ad dollars always follow eyeballs, but if PR practitioners don't reclaim social as theirs, the engaged communities they spent years harnessing will gradually depart and seek sanctuary on ad free, subscription based platforms."

In my view social media risks becoming the overly abused banner ad we see today.

Treat it with care marketeers, or risking losing those audiences you crave so much.

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