Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super Bowl Ads?

If you read this blog, you likely already care less about the Saints versus the Colts than you do about Super Bowl ads versus Social Media marketing. After all, the real money isn't earned from the battle on the field but in the battle that occurs during timeouts: Each player on last year's winning team earned a bonus of $83,000 while NBC earned around $213 million in ad revenue for the telecast.

A shift is occurring in the relative importance to marketers of Social Media and Super Bowl advertising.  Of course, the 2010 Super Bowl isn't the first we've seen of the marriage of Social Media and Super Bowl ads. Last year, Doritos struck gold with a UGC (User-Generated Content) ad produced by two unemployed brothers, and the brand is back this year with more UGC ads competing for even greater prize money.

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Why the Media Meltdown Matters to Brands

Back in July my colleague Nick Thomas wrote a report entitled: We Are All Media Companies Now: How Brands Can Benefit From The Media Meltdown.  I heavily recommend you read it. As we enter the second decade of the 21st century its core arguments are more relevant now than ever before.

The fundamentals of media business are toppling as their 20th century foundations crumble.  Consumers are falling out of love with paying for media and striking up illicit affairs with free content, not just because it is free, but also because it is on their terms.  YouTube, BitTorrent and Spotify don’t dictate when audiences watch and listen, they let them take control.  This is great news for consumers but terrible news for media businesses that have spent years building revenues upon near-monopolistic control of supply of content.  This is the Media Meltdown.

Why all this matters to brands is because the tectonic shifts in media value chains are creating exciting new opportunities for non-media companies to become media companies themselves.  Just as Apple transformed from hardware company to media services company with the launch of the iTunes Store, so too are brands such as Procter and Gamble with BeingGirl.com, Tommy Hilfiger with Tommy TV and Audi with its UK TV channel. 

Why are brands such as these choosing to become media companies?  Because communicating with audiences can be so much more valuable a relationship than a cold, hard sell to potential customers.  Engaging young girl readers on BeingGirl.com with articles about what it means to be a young girl on the verge of womanhood means so much more to that audience than an old fashioned TV ad by P&G’s Tampax (one of the brands behind the site). 

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Taxing the Net Won’t Stop the Media Meltdown

A new French government sponsored study has recommended taxing online advertising revenues to help compensate the French creative industries for copyright infringement.  The study proposes taxing the large online players Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo, but not ISPs, which are more traditionally seen as the key conduit for online media piracy. The sharp eyed among you will have noticed that these are all American companies and that the French ISPs are, well, French. 

Parochialism aside, there is a major flaw in the logic here: if these large companies are deemed responsible in part for illegal content consumption, then so are the ISPs (arguably more so).  And indeed the French Hadopi (Three Strikes) bill which this study is intended to complement, expressly apportions responsibility to the ISPs, making them partners in anti-piracy enforcement.  So if they are deemed responsible under French law, shouldn’t they also be subject to a levy, if one is implemented?

The so called ‘Google Tax’ proposals also suggest that the tax should be paid regardless of whether the publishers have offices in France, based instead on whether French consumers view the ads.  So this would mean, for example, that Google would have to make payment to support the French media industries if a French consumer clicked on a sponsored link, say, for washing machines in Seattle.

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Why did Apple buy Quattro Wireless?

Apple isn't saying. Quattro posted a blog that told their current customers not to worry - normal business operations would continue. So, I am speculating a bit.

The first questions I've fielded are, "Does Apple want to go head to head with Google?" or "Does Apple want to sell advertising?" At a high level, I believe businesses stick close to their core competencies. Apple sells hardware, software and some content. Google sells advertising. Well, mostly. There are about 4 billion cell phones worldwide and about 1 billion PC's. New Internet connects (and page views and advertising growth) will come from mobile. Mobile is high growth. PC's are a bit commoditized. My cell phone costs more than my last netbook or notebook purchase. Go figure.

Our mobile marketing foreast for the US shows revenue growing from $391M in 2009 to $1.3B in 2014 provided there aren't any game changers. Game changers? Anything that would dramatically impact the amount of inventory or the value of it. The Apple iPhone, for example, dramatically altered the number of page views or inventory in mobile. The Android phones are helping as well and gaining momentum. These numbers are US-only - growth in mobile globally has been dramatic as well and will continue to be. In the US alone (see my colleague Charlie Golvin's blog) smartphone adoption grew from 11% at the end of 2008 to 17% at the end of 2009. This is significant because a lot more browsing and application downloads happen on these phones than more basic ones. A cut of this revenue would add some to Apple's bottom line, but very small at least in the next few years.

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