25 September 2012

Twitter & Advertising

imageDick Costolo is the CEO of Twitter.  He’s a very smart, funny, down-to-earth fellow – the last two characteristics not typically associated with tech-biz heavyweights.  That’s because he really wanted to be a comic actor.  I can relate to that

Watch the complete interview with Dick Costolo on Charlie Rose.  It’s worth your time.  You’ll learn a lot.

But Mr. Costolo twitches when he talks about advertising on Twitter, bleating the same tired, convoluted, nonsensical social media silliness we’ve been hearing for years. A short clip:

Dick Costolo

It’s in its infancy.”  Meaning, nobody has a clue what the hell they’re doing.

I don’t think the model is necessarily there yet.”  Meaning, a hundred-odd years after the birth of modern advertising, twenty-odd years after the birth of the Web – nobody can figure out how to advertise effectively with social media.  So now let’s concentrate on mobile devices. Mobile advertising will work once social media marketing gurus figure out what the hell they’re doing.

Advertisers will need to adopt the way they communicate with customers.”  Meaning … I’m not sure.  Sounds like gobbledygook to me.

You have to participate in a way that is meaningful to the user.”  Meaning … it needs to be meaningful. Or participative.  Or something.  Whatever it has to be, it has to not be advertising, but still sell things.  Or it can simply give people a touchy-feely feeling about your product. That’s good enough.

The canvas is the conversation.”  Meaning….?????  Maybe they’ve got it backasswards.  It should be “The conversation is the canvas.”  Think about it.

You might not go into a campaign even knowing what you want to say in advance.”  Meaning………….……… help us, dear god.

Mr. Costolo also mentions the lack of real estate on mobile.  A few years ago I yacked about this in an online presentation.  Skip the needle to about 20 minutes in.  Or skip it altogether.  Maybe read this instead:

01 May 2010
… That silly retronym “traditional advertising” will remain the premiere force for introducing people to a product or service, along with sustaining its shelf life. Television, print, radio, and billboard ads will continue to have the visceral power they’ve always had – if only for their sheer size, simplicity, and cutting-edge audio/visual qualities.  Advertising on smartphones will be considered an annoyance, invasive, and rather dinky…

Back to the Charlie Rose clip: Dick Costolo talks about the Daytona 500 jet fuel spill.  The TV coverage included the clean-up with huge boxes of Tide® detergent.  Mr. Costolo says that the Tide social media department (or the ad agency) tweeted the incident and that it was a big Twitter advertising success. 

I’m not an internet search expert, but what I found tells a different story.  Here’s the tweet:


The stats for the tweet:


The live TV broadcast covered the spill, and Tide turned it into a commercial for television:

Tide Spot

Great PR, smart move fashioning it as a spot. Millions saw the clean-up on TV, days later millions saw the TV commercial.

Twitter and social/mobile media played a very, very minor role.  Forty-nine people retweeted the tweet.  The commercial would have been made without any twittering or any contests. 

is a fascinating phenomenon, has worldwide cultural and political influence (watch the complete Costolo interview), and will be around for quite some time.

But it is not an advertising platform. How Twitter will eventually support itself, who knows.  Maybe some sort of underwriting.

The mobile/social media soothsayers will have you believe that there is this unknown, magical mode of persuasion that has never been thought of before – and will reveal itself any day now. 

If you believe that, I have a Blackberry in Brooklyn I want to sell you. 

Two more moldy posts:

06 March 2012
Digital Distractions
Advertisers are getting wise to the drawbacks of marketing in the digital nest.

12 March 2012
Digital Distractions II
I hope this will be the last time for awhile where I won’t be distracted by digital distractions.

And a shiny, brand-new one from The Ad Contrarian:

September 24, 2012
imageSpeaking So As Not To Be Understood
Throughout history the purpose of speaking and writing has been to be make oneself understood. Not any more.