Lately, I feel like a hear two different arguments – brands should invest more in traditional broadcast media like TV or they should invest more in a social media strategy that accesses customers where they are talking to each other. And, each side seems to be equally convinced that the “other” media is a less good investment. Yet, these arguments seem to be based on a lot of opinions and little hard data.
Late in 2010, the Marketing Science Institute released a working paper titled, “Marketing Activity, Blogging and Sales” authored by a couple of researchers at the University of Michigan. In this empirical study, they looked at three product categories in Japan where new products had been launched – green tea, movies and cell phones. They have a couple of interesting findings:
#1 Ads that happen before a product launches spark blogging activity that leads to increased sales. Here’s their data for the release of SpiderMan 3. Notice the timing of the spikes – TV ads lead to overall blogging which leads to sales.
#2 Blogs ultimately have the bigger impact on sales. But, remember that the TV ads spark the blogging. In the figure below, check out the size of the cumulative effects on the right – TV at 0.013% vs. Blogs at 0.186%. Once again, we see that marketing activities are synergistic in that they enhance each other’s impact.
#3 After a new product’s launched, Blogs are more impactful. Theoretically, as customers move from awareness to taking action they get reinforcing ideas about how a brand will perform and what makes it special from customer-generated media like blogs. Imagine if a brand actively harvests stories from its customers!
So rather than arguing with each other, marketers that favor traditional media over social media (or vice versa) should figure out how to work together to get the action from customers they both want. Oh yes, and if you haven’t figured out how to give your customers a voice in your marketing efforts – think about how to unleash them in your own blog.