This story begins when Max Ahlborn, a judge for One Show (an international advertising award show), noticed a pattern. Nearly every submission he reviewed included “crescendos of press and blog posts along side a proud announcement that not a single dollar had been spent on a media buy. A pattern that in just a few hours had become, well, slightly cliche.” His critical view of the ad industry’s tendency to overhype page views and no media spend is something I share.
To highlight his point, Ahiborn created and launched a website, nomediaspend.com. He used no money to promote the site, only his and fellow judges’ Twitter accounts. Within a day, the site’s counter hit the 10,000 mark and multiple media outlets covered the story. He even created a case study video, that mocks the typical format advertisers use when presenting and highlighting an ad campaign’s effectiveness. The video uses advertising lingo and sophisticated-looking (read: confusing) charts to create the aura of a marketing success.
This campaign is truly clever. It’s both creative and tongue-in-cheek; a combination that, in this case, generated significant attention. It also ironically highlights his issue: getting people to talk about a brand doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve created a successful and effective campaign. Other metrics are needed.
Advertising exists to generate sales and increase profit. The amount spent on media is merely a detail, not a goal. A campaign that generates one hundred views, spends nothing on media, and results in no sales is not necessarily better than one that spends $10 for 50 media impressions and generates $20 in sales. Never mind that both types of campaigns incur costs during ideation, production, and maintenance. Each brand, product, message is best presented in a certain way and through a certain medium. If 100,000 views without spending a cent of media increase sales, great. If it requires buying media, cool. Particularly during our ‘social age,’ it’s easy to get in lost in the metrics of earned media (likes, tweets, shares, etc). But, at the end of the day, we’re here to increase a brand’s profits. And sometimes, but not always, it takes [media] money to make money.