Back in January, Proctor and Gamble kicked off the New Year with a shocking announcement for marketers.
With a flat market share and under pressure from investors, the administrator of the world’s largest advertising budget announced it was eliminating 1,600 non-manufacturing jobs – many from the marketing department – and shifting to digital only initiatives “to contain media spending long-term.”
P&G Chairman and CEO Bob McDonald:
“In the digital space, with things like Facebook and Google and others, we find that return on investment of the advertising when properly designed, when the big idea is there, can be much more efficient.”
Interestingly enough, McDonald continued by pointing out that digital media’s largely free social distribution options could significantly drive down costs for the CPG manufacturer, citing the over 1.8B free impressions garnered by its break through “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign for Old Spice from 2010.
Many media theorists and market watchers know that digital isn’t really free despite what some execs profess. What’s important about McDonald’s statement is the indication that marketing executives view digital as a cost-saving channel powered by shared media and that is a job killer.
As consumers of media, we can only hope P&G’s move is in line with the macro-trend of brands shifting away from simply producing ads towards creating awesome, value-adding content.Seattle-based illustrator the Oatmeal recently published a clever “How to” in line with this trend, encouraging people to “put their energy into things that are likeable, not into – me douche social media strategy,” or in other words, “less marketing douchebaggery and more TANKS.”
So, was P&G’s move a cause for celebration for social media purists? Is it an affirmation that the advertising industry continues to evolve from “push” to “pull” strategies?
After interviewing a number of social media agencies of record (abbreviated as SMaoRs), web strategist Jeremiah Oywang has identified a new trend that suggests otherwise. With Facebook and Twitter releasing new ad units that transform popular social content into advertising units, social marketers (many of whom were set to disrupt the advertising industry) are vying with traditional agencies for larger shares of ad budgets.
As SMoaRs join the ad buying game and traditional agencies add social to their competencies, others view 2012 as the year of integration between ads and content. More marketers are making the case that the smart integration of “push” and “pull” strategies creates a whole communications strategy that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Nowhere is this happening more than in mobile, where second screens are enhancing the broadcast TV and branded apps are transforming retail into a networked platform experience.
For digital media professionals, this integration suggests that our future won’t necessarily be in a digital role at a traditional agency or working for a solely digital agency, but rather that qualifiers like these will no longer be relevant. Success will be measured in a company’s ability to market across any medium, channel, device, and audience and do it anytime, anywhere.
Even when the roles of social marketers and advertisers completely converge, consumers will ultimately determine the future of advertising. Agencies and marketers only win when consumers are happy about the products and experiences being offered to them. So, with an eye towards Facebook’s upcoming IPO which pins its financial success on its ability to generate ad revenue through its social network, there’s never been a more exciting – and challenging – time to be a digital marketer.