Why not everything is social

If you haven’t seen our debates with Edward Boches, chief innovation officer at Mullen, know that we hold him and his team in highest esteem. Mullen has been on fire lately landing accounts such as Zappos and they have an interesting take on social. Yet, sometimes, we must disagree … as with Edward’s latest post “Everything is Social So Now What?” Edward suggests TV has been tied to Twitter, ads now run on YouTube, and retail is connected to Facebook, so social has become the foundation of communications. Hmm.

If I may disagree, I must. Not everything is social for a simple reason — there is more demand for marketers to push messages out than there is corresponding demand for consumers willing to have relationships.

Here’s some quick math, as an example. The typical U.S. consumer watches 5 hours and 9 minutes of TV a day (yes, less for younger demos, they’re only at 3 hours 30 minutes). Internet, mobile and social pales in comparison, at less than 1 hour a day. (Source: Nielsen in-home studies tracking eye movements of consumers in 5 cities.) So, let’s think about that — at 30 seconds a TV spot, and about 16-18 minutes of commercials an hour, the typical person is exposed to 166 television commercials a day. Now add in the scores of billboards, banner ads, print ads, social media push-out tweets, and you see a person is awash in thousands of outbound marketing messages.

Who wants to connect with all those brands? Impossible.

Of course, you could argue this means old-school advertising doesn’t work, but that is a fallacy — advertising has always been a game of what you catch, not what you spill. A TV ad unabsorbed by most of the audience can still drive financial results if a fraction respond.

The truth is relatively simple: Consumers like to spend hours being entertained; the price they pay is unwanted ad messages (with a small portion that work); and the supply of marketing fueling those ads greatly outweighs any desire by the consumer to connect with all of those brands.

I know a guy who is the voice of Hello Mello, and his consumers are passionate, reconnecting back. But the sad fact is the world of product supply is out of sync with the consumer relationship need. Not everything is social, because the laws of supply and demand decree it must be so.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

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