Let’s debate about the future of advertising and marketing

by Jeff Hilimire on August 3, 2011

I personally think that in the future, WE will be the media. Instead of brands spending tens of millions of dollars to advertise about their new product, they are going to instead spend those dollars sending the product to people, certainly a lot of influential, klout-popular blogging-type people, but also a ton of real people, and simply ask them to tell their friends their thoughts.

Think about it.  Spend $20 million to get your new product on TV and billboards with the hopes that a few people see the message 3 or 4 times in order to recall the product and possibly buy it at some point.  Or, send out a million products to actual people (assuming the manufacturing cost of the product is around $17 and at most you’re spending $3 on shipping) and let those people spread the word. The average Facebook user has 130 friends or more…you do the math. And after you do the math, consider the difference between a billboard telling you great a product is vs. your friend.

I can also see a future where companies pay you to write a review, good or bad. You’re already seeing this with startups and companies like ExpoTV (great company btw). Imagine a movie comes out and they take the $20 million budget from above and give 10 million people $2 to write a review of the movie (video or text) and share that with their friends.  Is that not a better way to spend that money?

When I talk like this to people, particularly people that have a lot of marketing and advertising experience, it kinda freaks them out and I get a ton of reasons why it won’t work, most of which are very valid.  But I love the debate because it really challenges everything we believe about marketing and advertising today.

So…let’s debate!

  • http://www.brainwads.net/drewhawkins Drew Hawkins

    I don’t know how much I can really debate all of that. I’ve read in Gary V’s book and heard him speak about in a conference regarding how the reputation part of business is going back to the old days. The old days, reputation was everything and if one person had a bad experience, the whole town would know and the business would be screwed. I think with social and WOM we’re definitely heading back in that direction.

    I do think for now, you have to have a good bit of paid media with a mix of social/organic growth. In some ways it still works, provided that paid message in front of me is targeted towards my interests and needs. Even Facebook ads drive fan growth and awareness. That said, friend recommendations will mean more and paid models like Facebook’s sponsored stories or ExpoTV will become more powerful.

    One question for you: as brands start to send people free things and everyone becomes “sponsored” in some way, do you think it will reduce the value of friend recommendations over time? If my friend suggests something but I know he got something free out of the deal, would I still consider that to be a genuine recommendation? I know bloggers face that now with sponsored posts. I wonder if that will have a trickle effect in other areas. 

  • Jreineck

    Reminds me of buzz agents!

  • http://mindgrapes.ryantuttle.com Ryan P. Tuttle

    I don’t want to debate this with you on your own blog, because we all know how that turns out… or with you in person, because we all know how that turns out… but this did make me think of your movie reference. If this is the future of marketing then will big budget movies go away? Big budget movies are a huge gamble and often the studio has to “trick” the users into seeing the movie, which is why opening weekend is so important. If movie marketing were 100% social referral and you took away the studio’s ability to trick people then the risk of funding a mega movie would be too much.

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