Social Networks vs Search Ad

Here’s another contribution (by Paul La Monica) to the debate on the future of online advertising, and the importance of social networks.

Bottomline, the article points out that marketers will look for the next magic solution after TV, and social networks will fail in that regard because: a) people move too quickly from today’s hot social network to tomorrow’s, and b) they might not be willing to accept ads on their personal and social space.

Though I agree that social networks are not going to be the next magical thing, a) and b) are not the reasons for that, because: a) ad companies and marketers can find a way to move just as quickly to the next hot social network, and b) consumers are most likely going to be willing to share their personal space with brands (not ads), because brands matter to them.

Social networks won’t be the next magical thing simply because there will be none, and marketers will have to reluctantly realize that: even if you admit that tv was ever the one-fits-all medium (that might only be true for FMCG), that won’t be the case in the future, and not because of changes in media landscape, but because both consumers and marketers are getting too complex to admit one universal solution.

Search Ads won’t be that solution either, as might be suggested by Jim Nail in that same article: lots of people are fascinated by search because it’s measurable, but they fail to realize some of its inherent flaws:

  1. Search is only a solution-provider, it doesn’t allow for any kind of engagement
  2. It’s unfit for true innovation: people tend to look for something when they know it exhists. Some people say that this is not the case, and as long as a new product provides a solution (even a very innovative one) to an exhisting problem, search will give that product the most effective exposure. No matter how reasonable it sounds, it doesn’t work this way. According to an old marketing statement, “people buy the hole, not the drill”. That’s true, but people look for the drill, because they know that it is drills that make holes, and they don’t quite see the point in wasting time looking for possible alternative solutions.
  3. We can’t pretend that all purchases are made to find a solution to a problem, at least not in a traditional sense. Not even half products are problem-solvers, as any honest marketer would admit. Most purchases are made out of emotional decisions, and emotions have no place in search ads (so far).

Final Burp: maybe measurability is the new bubble…

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