Social media should be in the research business, not the ad business

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Here’s  thought, is social media and search, as categories, in the wrong business? Right now, they are in the advertising business. They make 90% of their money selling ad space. I think what they really should be is in the research business. The most valuable asset any online media holds is data. Search and social media have great access to consumers and are privy to detailed, personal information. This gives them a huge advantage over the traditional research companies such as Nielson and Forrester. While traditional research companies usually take a relatively small sample of consumers to arrive at their data analysis, search and social media companies have troves of users and is collecting mountains of data on them. They can even follow their every move online in such as way that they can also track behavior. This is something that traditional research companies can not do easily or effectively since they are not the start or destination place for consumers.

I think that many advertisers would be willing to pay a premium on the kinds of data online properties collect. This will give marketers the ability to send various marketing messages that appeal locally instead of sending only one messages en-mass. Marketers can create a mass from a large collection of niches. It’s all about the data. That is the real value and that is what can make an online property a killer research company. Proctor & Gamble’s top global research executive, Joan Lewis, believes that social networks and search holds great promise for deep research data.

The problem is too many of these sites are constructing their networks to accommodate advertising by default. They should, instead, see that their real value is in the data research arena. This is what the can do better than anyone else. Right now, online is still only getting between 7-10% of major advertiser’s marketing budget. If they want more of the pie, research is their path to greater wealth. In this respect, they are kings at this game while other media outlets are well established and kings at advertising. Though they may be “old school”, they still know how to get to the masses. Of course, new media is beginning to find it’s way, but they still have a ways to go. But, in research, their online machine is more effective and efficient than any traditional research company. One big advantage is consumers, themselves, trusts these online companies (at least for now) and do their work for them just by letting them follow their every move online. They get the consumers to work on their behalf. What a great system.

So, if online companies want to up their percentage in the advertising pie, maybe being a research company is the ticket, instead of being an advertising vehicle. Someone should do some research on this.

www.bebranded.net
317-797-7226

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About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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