Friday, October 29, 2010

Would ads have killed Facebook? - we have a love-hate relationship with commercials

I went to see "Social Network" last night and it´s fabulous, I loved every minute of the interesting story of how Facebook was born. One of the issues crucial to the FB success was advertising. Mark´s partner wanted to earn money quickly by putting ads on the site, but Mark refused, claiming ads were not cool, and that they would kill FB.

Advertising is a part of our world. We love it. We hate it. When Good Guys start singing I want to throw something heavy on the TV, but when I see McDonalds new ad where businessmen start playing, I stop and stare - and smile.

Some say we see more than 10 000 advertising messages a day, attacking our senses. In a broader sense, we are approached by 11 million bits of information every second, while our conscious brain only can handle 40 of those.

20% of the Swedish consumers put up a "no junk" sign on their mailbox, but direct mail just represent a small part of all ads, and it´s naive to think you can get away. Today marketers try to reach us with buzz marketing, undercover marketing, guerilla marketing, pop-up-stores, bars hidden in anonymous alleys, word-of-mouth marketing and product placement. The next thing is neuromarketing, trying to figure out how to reach the senses to bypass our thoughts and go straight into the brain system.

We are for sure influenced by what we hear or read. In a study from North Carolina, people were asked which issues they thought were the most important today and they answered the same issues that had been discussed in the local media during the same period.

Researchers have also found that when they show brief pics (16 milliseconds) of smiling people, the viewer want a larger amount of a drink and are willing to pay twice as much for is than when they view an angry face (from Martin Lindstroms amazing book Buyology).

Ads may not always be the coolest thing, and perhaps they would have damaged Facebook. Ads are like people - some are nerds, some are cool. For a brand it is crucial to make them fit the market and engage to achieve a long term connection. When you understand your market and the world your people live in, you will see their emotional needs and create a campaign that matches them, satisfies them. I believe in grassroot sourced marketing rather than award-hungry marketing. Creative ideas rather than following the latest trends. Them rather than you.

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