Before You Pronounce Traditional Advertising Dead Check For Its Social Media Pulse.

People love to pronounce things dead. In fact, the phrase “is dead” returns over 226 million Google search results. However, most media and marketing that has been pronounced dead, doesn’t actually die, it just changes into something else. Radio was pronounced dead when TV came along. Instead radio became a valuable local and promotional medium. I still have the cover of WIRED magazine hanging in my office that pronounced Apple computer dead in the 1990’s.

Many have pronounced traditional advertising dead as digital and social media have increased in usage and influence. In 2013 a Harvard Business Review article said, “Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” The author’s evidence? More people find information about products/services on their own through the internet and social media. CMO’s lack credibility and can’t prove business growth. It doesn’t make sense to hire 3rd parties to try and sell your products for you. (I have paraphrased Bill Lee, please check out his arguments yourself).

From the evidence I gathered I see a different story. Instead of death, social media seems to be giving traditional advertising new life and this new life is growing evidence for the importance of integration of marketing methods. Instead of replacing the old, we should be including it. Even in my Social Media Marketing class focused on social media, I make it clear that it should never exist on its own. It is not a replacement for traditional marketing, but should be integrated into traditional efforts. But perhaps I am biased because I received my masters degree in IMC (Integrated Marketing Communication) so lets look at the numbers and you can decide for yourself.

According to Ipsos research released in 2013, the number one way to create awareness around new brands and products is still with TV ads followed by friends and family and then the Internet. Nearly a third of consumers also turn to magazine ads (31%), social networking sites (25%), entertainment (TV shows/movies; 22%) and direct mail (21%). Even in the younger 18-34 group, the Internet becomes the primary source of discovery (59%), but TV is still third (48%).

Nielson data reports surveys of online consumers indicating the more influential forms of advertising (ones they always or sometimes take action on). People I know and opinions posted online are number one (84%) and two (70%), TV comes in at third (68%). Ads in newspapers are still number five (65%), magazine ads are eighth (62%) and billboards are just out of the top ten (57%). These charts say “integration” to me, not “death.”

Brands that are integrating are seeing better results. Deloitte research reports Some 86% of US consumers (aged 14+) claim to always or almost always multitask while watching TV. Almost half of Millennials this year say they use a social network while watching TV. The brands that know this are acting on it and benefiting from integration. For example, combined print advertising with online has been shown to increase intention to take action by 85%. And combined use of Twitter has also delivered greater results for traditional TV by increasing awareness, favorability and intent.

I am still a social media fan and highly suggest that all brands need to jump into social media marketing. But in your enthusiasm for the new, don’t leave behind the old. Traditional advertising is still alive and kicking and gets a boost from social media marketing. The best marketing efforts combine both in IMC fashion. Do you agree or do you see a flat line for traditional?

 

USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl Results: Story Wins With Puppy Love And Others!

The 2014 Super Bowl is over and even though there wasn’t much plot development in the game, the winning Super Bowl ads knew the power of a good story. As I posted on Saturday “Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners” Budweiser’s Puppy Love won USA Today’s Ad Meter voting.

Our two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials found that dramatic form impacts favorability in advertising rating polls – consumer ratings went up as ads had more acts in a the five-act dramatic form expressed in Freytag’s Pyramid and used by William Shakespeare.

Did story win out this year? Let’s take a look at the top spots in the 2014 Ad Meter results and one at the bottom to see if they have five act dramatic form:

1. “Puppy Love” – Budweiser: This has five acts of story from the inciting moment of the puppy pound, and rising action of a new animal friendship to the climax of Clydesdales surrounding the car, falling action and moment of release when the puppy finds a home.

2. “Cowboy Love” – Doritos: The mom and younger brother win out over the bratty kid in this complete story in five acts.

3. “Hero’s Welcome” – Budweiser: The beer brand delivers another heart felt complete story. The plot in this story heightens knowing it features a real soldier returning from war.

4. “Time Machine” – Doritos: This snack brand has been telling good stories for years with their “Crash the Superbowl” contest. Here the complete story shows how a kid tricks an adult out of his Doritos.

5. “Phone Call” – Radio Shack: This is a story of Radio Shack getting a makeover. A simple story, but the real drama (climax) comes as 1980s stars come in and slowly dismantle the store leading to the falling action and moment of release with the two store employees left alone.

That is the top five, but does story appear in the Super Bowl poll losers? At the bottom of the list we have a Bud Light commercial “Cool Twist.” This Super Bowl ad is 30 seconds of spinning bottle with a voice over talking about the bottle. I see no plot or story development in any acts. Budweiser uses the power of story to earn two top 5 spots, why are they so flat with this effort?

This disparity has happened before. In the first year of our Super Bowl analysis, Budweiser had a top 5 hit with “Clydesdale’s Friend” or “Fence” that leveraged the power of story. However, in the 2010 Super Bowl, Budweiser also had a bottom five spot with Select 55 “World’s Lightest Beer” that simply featured a spinning bottle with an announcer talking about the beer – no story.

It looks like story is the ingredient needed to make Super Bowl ads super. SpotBowl.com voting is still open, polls close at 3:00 p.m. today. People think it’s all about sex or humor or animals, but what we’ve found is that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.

Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners: Research Shows Sex And Humor Aren’t The Key, It’s Story

This year marketers are paying a record $4 million for a :30 second Super Bowl ad to reach a record of over 111.3 million viewers. Yet, for that money it’s not enough, advertisers need their ads to go viral. Knowing what makes a Super Bowl ad buzz worthy is important in this high stakes marketing event. There are a lot of predictions and theories out there, but research my colleague and I conducted found that the underbelly of a great commercial is whether it tells a story or not.

What does William Shakespeare have to do with Super Bowl Commercials? Our two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials found a significant relationship between dramatic form and favorability in consumer Super Bowl ad rating polls such as USA Today’s Ad Meter and Spotbowl.com. The research pulls from Aristotle’s Poetics and “Freytag’s Pyramid” five act plot structure popularized by dramatist such as Shakespeare to reveal the power of story.

Super Bowl Ads, Super Bowl Bowl Commercials, Super Bowl XLVIII, USA Today Ad Meter, Spotbowl.com, Freytag's Pyramid, Shakespeare, Dramatic Form, 5-Acts
A 5-Act Story Following Freytag’s Pyramid is The Secret to Super Bowl Ad Success.

According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts called acts, and these acts combine to form a dramatic arc: Inciting Moment, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Moment of Release. We found that consumer ratings were significantly higher for commercials that follow a full five-act dramatic form compared to commercials that did not. Additionally, the more acts commercials had (3 versus 2) the higher the ratings.

Based on this analysis and advancement of narrative theory, my prediction for this year’s Super Bowl ad winner will be Budweiser’s Puppy Love. Viewers favor ads with dramatic plot lines. Plot is what Aristotle emphasized in Poetics as early as 335 BC.

The power of story has already drawn 30 million views on YouTube and significant press coverage for “Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial — ‘Puppy Love'” two days before the actual game and official airing of the spot.

“What Makes A Super Bowl Ad Super for Word-of-Mouth Buzz?: Five-Act Dramatic Form Impacts Super Bowl Ad Ratings” is being published Fall 2014 in the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. The more complete a story marketers tell in their commercials the higher it performs in the ratings polls, the more people like it, want to view it, and share it.

What are your predictions for Sunday’s Super Bowl ad winners?