Is Coupon Clipping Social Media’s Primary Value to Advertisers?

Ad agencies seem unable to resist the idea that there’s a “killer media” out there to fulfill their every dream. And that creates a tremendously dysfunctional business – which dashes off for a night of new media partying only to end up hungover and broke when reality hits in the morning.

Right now, morning light has begun to appear for social media. Social attracted huge hype and some big corporate ad dollars with the crowd theory. This theory suggests that with so many consumers using social media it MUST be a worthwhile place to advertise.

That’s jumping a bit far, a bit fast and the crowd theory is rife with problems. Consider: If the crowd wants to talk with each other, why would they want to engage in any commercial conversation with you? Most consumer’s don’t want to be your friend.

Show Them the Money. Now we learn that consumers primarily engage with companies to get a good deal (research reported in this article from the Media Research Institute confirms other behavioral data). Note:

– Nearly 1/2 of women are primarily looking for deals through social media.
– Nearly 1/3 of men are primarily looking for deals through social media.

Uh, oh. Just as marketer’s were beginning to look forward to long soulful conversations with their consumers we find out they really only want deep discounts from us. Sigh.

The Web: Discounter’s Paradise. This isn’t bad or good. But coupon clipping with Facebook is far from the virulent & virally driven social media engagement conversations that the digerati tell us will drive the entire future of marketing (note that they can’t explain how these conversations are supposed to osmose into profit).

Social isn’t alone with coupon clipping. I just came from a Google presentation. Guess what common theme kept coming up? Using online coupons and discounts through Google, YouTube and its other properties.

All this suggests the web’s biggest advertising strength (I’m not talking about storefronts) may be the modern equivalent of Green Stamps. (History Check: In the 50’s, 60’s, & 70’s women like my mom collected Green Stamps that were awarded based on purchase behavior. Pasted into coupon books, the stamps could be redeemed for “free gifts”. There’s nothing really new under the sun – just digital ways to do it.)

New Media Hype Has Little Connection with Reality. I’ve written elsewhere about how the DVR, instead of killing TV advertising, now appears to have made it more effective. But the gap between ad biz/digerati hype and reality is a common theme in new media.

In the early 2000’s, article after article extolled the virtues of video advertising at the gas pump. We were told that Coke, Pepsi and a wealth of other traditional advertisers would thrive by capturing that lonely moment while the consumer pumps gas.

Fast forward to 2008. I live in Oregon where, by law, we can’t pump our own gas. So I experienced this advertising first-hand on a trip to LA. What did I find? Not a big brand in sight. Instead, the pump featured a brassy, loud, and continuous run of cheesy ads dominated by Phoenix University and low-ball direct response advertisers.

It Gets Worse for Social. All this helps place in context an article this morning about the current #3 Facebook advertiser. This article claims that the third largest Facebook advertiser is a scam designed to change your default search engine to Bing so that this third party gets a payment every time you search. You can read details at the above link.

Is this Facebook’s equivalent of the noisy and invasive advertising that now dominates banners online or my Los Angeles gas pump?

Let’s All Embrace the Light of Day. New media can bring important value. But it’s not found in these wild, unthinking dashes. Cooler heads must prevail and search for both the strengths and the weaknesses of each new media. Only when this happens will we finally learn how to leverage a balance of traditional and new media advertising to increase market power for our clients.

Copyright 2011 – Doug Garnett

About Doug Garnett
Growing retail based businesses through television, DRTV, and all forms of video. Doug is a strategist, executive producer, director, author, & teacher.

2 Responses to Is Coupon Clipping Social Media’s Primary Value to Advertisers?

  1. The time isn’t too far off when we will probably be capable to use our cell phones in physical shops to get coupons and redeem them, without ever employing any paper or copying anything. And these are not simply predictions. There is a company working on this correct now. It really is called ShoppingTrip360. It uses smart light sensitive shelves in order to understand when a product is picked up or place back down. It could alert the retailer to a stockout immediately, and it can even alert the staff to a misplaced item, as long as that item has a various shape than the item that is supposed to be in that location. But what does that have to do with coupons? They are also working on extending that system to offer cell phones with information about the items near the customer. Then the cell phone could be able to seek out coupons for the customer based on the items perfect subsequent to him or her! That way, without possessing to look stuff up and bring stuff with you, you can decide the lowest priced product on the shelves right in front of you just after taking coupons into account! It is going to be a no-hassle method of getting coupons.

    • Doug Garnett says:

      Interesting. And, very useful to learn from as long as we control what we expect to learn from it. Sadly, the marketing business is typically not wise about the faith it puts in so-called “learnings” from tracking like this.

      As noted in the post, the mere fact that someone picked up a product doesn’t tell us the important things. We need to know “why” they pick it up and how that fits in their life.

      Thanks for the comment.

      …Doug

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: