P&G’s Ted McConnell says what some of us have been thinking

Ben Shepherd writes: Great quote from P&G’s Ted McConnell in Silicon Valley Insider.

When asked on his thoughts regarding advertising on Facebook – he responded “I really don’t want to buy any more banner ads on Facebook.”

“I have a reaction to [Facebook] as a consumer advocate and an advertiser: What in heaven’s name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?”

He went on to say “Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell. Media contains inventory. Media contains blank spaces. Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant. … We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”

I thought this was a good point in terms of some available placements on facebook – that said there is room for advertising on Facebook and some things work reasonably well. I’ve used it and will continue to.

However placing ads next to someone’s top friends widget or iLike or superpoke or whatever lame app someone has – who ever said this sort of thing is media? What problem does it solve? Who does it speak to and most importantly how? Sure, slide.com might have (or had) a pretty solid userbase but it’s irrelevant if they can’t offer advertisers a meaningful way to connect with them. It’s also irrelevant if none of the users are looking at the ads.

The larger issue is we need to, as an industry, resist the temptation to place ads on EVERYTHING and look at what advertisements actually add to the user and the placement. Digital could get rid of 50% of its current inventory and not feel any hit financially.

Just because someone uses it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for advertising. It also doesn’t mean there’s any demand from advertiser or agencies to place ads on these junk placements.

Just becasue an audience are playing tic-tac-toe online does not necessarily mean that it’s a good place for an advertiser to place a message. Advertisers want quality environments – it’s not a new phenomenon and it’s not going away.


Liam Walsh: Well I had been hoping to disagree with Ben. Finally!

This is lunacy.

Ted doesn’t like facebook because somebody breaks up and therefore it’s not ‘media’…..

Yet Australian Idol is media, Big Brother is media, Today Tonight is media?????

Nonsense content is nonsense content.

If the facebook reader is a potential or existing customer then it makes sense to send them an advertisement.

Maybe it is just that Facebook isnt expensive enough to feel like it was an investment?

I will believe advertisers want quality content when Australia’s Funniest Home Videos has no paid ads in it. Until then I am in the very unfortunate position of having to be positive towards Facebook.


8 responses to “P&G’s Ted McConnell says what some of us have been thinking

  1. I see his point but it appears to me that McConnell seems to think people should be able to chose when they get advertised to,and that’s ridiculous. Surely product placement would fall at the same immoral hurdle but in an age of file sharing, someone sometime, has to get paid. I don’t like seeing James Bond flashing off his Sony Viao to me but I know that in part it helped fund the film and give me a partially subsidised 2 hours of entertainment.

    I also think Mr McConnell is generalising social media. I believe social media advertising is split into 2 parts. Passive advertising – when an ad is shown to a user alongside their social profile, and engaged advertising, when the user is interacting with a brand. For passive advertising – I can break up with my girlfriend by Facebook email or Gmail. One it would seem is immoral while the other is ok because of the platform used. In the case of engaged advertising, I believe as long as the user knows they’re interacting with the brand and the brand does not try and manipulate the conversation it’s having with the end user, then this is an entirely pure way of talking to a user and therefore a great form of advertising.

    Either way, in our case it’s great news and I’d love to have a chat with Mr McConnell: “McConnell told the conference that he does not think P&G should continue to buy banner ads on Facebook, although he believes there is still value in branded Facebook applications.”

    Adknowledge are a social media ad platform. In September we served 10 billion ads into social media applications across Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Bebo, Friendster and Orkut. Along with monetising apps we also offer brands the opportunity to “rent an app”

    Here’s an example: http://apps.new.facebook.com/videotheater/Video.php?contentId=4 for more information pbowen@adknowledge.com

  2. I think using facebook as an advertising media is a waste of advertising dollars.

    Every company these days seems to want to slice of the facebook pie, and sets up their own account, etc.

    As a member of gen. Y, the primary users of facebook, I can tell you those ads are mostly ignored.

    I get tons of requests to ‘become a vampire’ or other stupid facebook apps – I’ve gotten them from Nike, and from other brands that should know better.

    It’s like Malcolm Gladwell talks about in The Tipping Point – the ads are so plentiful that they are devalued and watered down. I think if advertisers want to create a facebook ad that would truly increase sales, they would have to put coupons or something of actual value on the site. Gather together a bunch of brands that gen. y uses and create a ‘savings group’ on facebook that posts a different printable coupon every month. Being interactive isn’t enough. Being able to go on facebook and suck my best friend’s blood isn’t going to make me buy your product. But, if Nike or Puma were to offer me a 10% off coupon on facebook, where I go anyway, it would serve as an encouragement to go buy their product. . .

  3. I tend to agree with Liam.
    Is it not the point of an advertiser to reach john doe, who lives in Paramatta, is 18 years of age and goes to school, has a job and a cell phone and hangs out with friends etc etc etc.

    Wouldn’t you then get less wastage on a site like facebook where they can target the audience to exactly that (if they can that is?)?

    Not all advertising campaigns are suited for it, and not all executions are briliant, but there is a point to be made for the use of it, or at least a trial. Whether or not this is “old school” Media content, or new school user generated content is irrelevant i think.

  4. talkingdigital

    wastage is an interesting term … just because something is highly targeted does not mean it isn’t wasteful … the term wastage is thrown around way too much out of context.

    i agreed ruud, absolutely you need to trial things before you make a judgement.

  5. I think there’s 4 key elements marketers should look at in terms of environments to place their brands and deliver a message

    – targeted audience
    – focused editorial
    – specific relevant advertisers
    – interested readers

    the above is taken from a really good blog i read

    you can find the blog here


    if im not mistaken, facebook engagement ads fits those criteria?

    Facebook came down from the US to showcase their engagement ads and what it was, was basically ads that broadcast what interactions your friends have had with a campaign.

    for example if i was to become a fan of a brand, ads would then be broadcast on my friends pages saying i had become a fan.

    this to me is absolutely brilliant! we should all know by now that the most trusted source of information is people and what better way of brand advocacay than letting people be you brand ambassadors.

    also i dont see any intrusion in this as this is exactly what facebook does. it broadcasts stuff about users.

    if you dont like it there are always alternatives.

    oh and btw what type of person breaks up through facebook……… must be Gen Y

    furthermore a recent UM study highlighted how people expect to be provided content for free. the use of advertising to suppliment these services was also widely expected and more importatnly accepted.

    in a choice between subscription and advertiser funded content, the results were clear. People refuse to pay for things they believe should be free or could find free elsewhere.

    To mbreau, yes adveritsing should be about adding value to consumers. however Advertisers cannot spend all their marketing campaigns simply giving things away. in a perfect world marketers would give away cars every hour every day. but it cant be done, marketers also need to spend money on advertising the products features in order to create differentiation in an increasingly saturated market.

    as you’ve mentioned most ads are ignored, and this is something that applies to all media channels not just online. so wouldnt you agree that the better the targeting and the context the more likely users are to pay attention and therfore engage?

    if you were to build a voucher application, how would people know that you had built it? would you advertise it? would your friends be more likey to pay attention to it if they saw that you had downloaded the app?

    i was once of the opinion that ad networks were to be used simply to balance a campaign and “ensure” a threshold for results.

    then some guy named Liam told me i was missing the point. By using the techonology, certain adnetworks add value to consumers by brining them closer to their purchasing intent.

    things like retargeting and consumer behavoiur targeting are things that can help a consumer make that decision.

    take me for example, im in the market for a dslr and therfore have searched and read many reviews. subsequently i have noticed either through targeting or context of the site im in, ads for camera’s. do i prefer this to a random ad about cheapest broadand rates, Hell Yeah I do!
    (simply because im not in the market for broadband)

    in much the same way highly targeted placements such as facebooks adds value for both adveresier and user.

    all that being said i do agree with Ben that we shouldnt advertise on everything….. but what Mr McConnell said is not something i fully agree with.

    firstly, nobody is hijacking anything. its not an invasion of privacy. if two people are walking down the street talking and they see an outdoor ad, have they been hijacked?

    of course not. they can choose to ignore it, very much like how you can ignore it online.

    if it wasnt for adverising there would be no facebook, there would be no youtube. hell there would be no google.

    case in point – napster

    free = millions of users

    not free = whats napster again? – source Gen Y

    if people think they have they right not to be advertised to, then they should remove themselves from these services.

    but then you would have to start paying for like services and whilst the number of downloads on itunes is fantastic…… i would hate to even think of the actual amount of $$ value of illegally downloaded content there has been today alone

  6. McConnell is getting confused because he is employing a traditonal marketers paradigm. Often the most successful, appropriate and well-received interventions in the social media space are not a standard advertising solution.

    If the brand can provide some genuine value and/or utility to the Facebook communities, it is an excellent engagement platform. There are plenty of good example of this (Chase Manhattan, etc).

    You can’t apply old thinking to solve new problems.

  7. I’ve used facebook in the past for certain campaigns and the best placement by far and away was the ‘sponsored story’ placement that appeared in the news feed.

    It was relevant, it was targeted and it worked it’s arse off. I agree with Carlos that people expect to see ads when they are getting great services/content for free. Most people realise that just because an ad is there doesn’t mean they have to interact or do anything with it. If they don’t like it, ignore it.

    One of the funnier things I get told/read is that people don’t look at/don’t interact with ads online. Um, last time I checked… the reason digital is so valuable is because we know exactly how many people saw, interacted, clicked, purchased etc. Sure an impression doesn’t mean that someone saw an ad but still the other things we measure are purely based on actual interactions (I’m not going to start on post view acquisitions… another time!).

    Not all advertisers are going to be appropriate for facebook, that’s a given. But that’s the same with every single site out there. I’ve run some campaigns on there that sucked, some that were amazing. As Carlos said, if an ad tells me that my friend likes something or recommends something, that’s a very powerful thing. It’s just a shame that facebook haven’t really worked out the best way for them to get the advertising dollars and an even bigger shame that some advertisers don’t really understand the targeting options. I’m not sure that advertising wedding photography and make up to a single bloke is the smartest targeting option. Could be just me though…

  8. Pingback: Logical Juice :: The Media Logic Blog

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