On Bloomberg TV last week, our investor Eric Hippeau discussed how social advertising would finally allow the web to unlock the advertising quality and budgets of television advertising.
Social advertising requires new types of creative and processes, and the rise of television is a good example of how advertising changed with the advent of a new medium. I asked on Quora how the advertising industry adopted to television, and Rick Webb recommended The Mirror Makers by Stephen Fox; the television section in this 1984 book is intriguing for how closely it could be used to describe the move to social advertising.
In 1949, television advertising was $12.3 million. By 1951, it was $128 million, a level that took radio 16 years to hit. (p.210)
Fox, again writing in 1984, states (all quotes are from pages 210 to 214):
For Madison Avenue, television meant a new kind of advertising with its own technical problems. Dozens of big clients switched agencies to find creative departments adept at the new techniques.
Fox could just as well be writing about the move to native ads and social content designed to be shared. The technical challenges could reference the new Sponsored Story and Promoted Tweet formats (as well as BuzzFeed’s Story Units), and of course, the switching of agencies could describe brands bringing on digital and social agencies of record.
TV messages seemed to work best when cool and understated….Given one advertiser and a show title bearing its name, viewers associated a favorite show with its sponsor and- because of a “gratitude factor” – would buy the products
This is precisely what we see in terms of “content gifts” and reciprocity in social advertising. Whereas a banner just demands action in a vacuum, a social ad delivers a gift that expresses brand attributes or aspirations and asks for consideration in return. It also need not be heavy handed, consumers keenly notice the brand gift giver in a simple title or attribution.
And these early TV ads delivered information, one description of a Kraft ad:
Its decorous commercials emphasized recipes and and information about the product, with no hard sell or repetition.
Could be used to describe the work BuzzFeed did just this year for Kraft’s Mio Energy.
The section also describes how closely agencies and TV networks collaborated during these early days, reminding me of how we collaborate closely with brands, media agencies, and creative agencies to adapt and experiment with new, but scalable social programs.
You can almost always find a historically precedent for major transitions. Such historic case studies offer up good learnings and often validate a new move. Social, content-driven advertising is both new and old. The great print ads of Ogilvy are evidenced in the content-driven advertising of today, and television was a richer medium that allowed for the creation of understated branding around content gifts. What’s new in social is the speed of sharing and ability through these techniques to create word of mouth marketing at unheralded scale. But I’m sure there are even historical antecedents in word of mouth, but that is for another post…
Here’s the Quora thread: