Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Why Social Media Has Saved TV Ads

Time shifting is powerful. We can watch what we want, when we want. It’s a beautiful thing. However, in the world of social media, where talking about what is happening in the now is social currency, time shifting is a losing proposition.

No one is tweeting about something monumental that happened during Breaking Bad, three days later. There is no value in that, and in fact it’s goofy. The conversation has moved on.

Everything is happening now. People watch, people post. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr…they post. And then others react. They are all critics, commentators, evangelists and reporters.

That’s the way it goes. Sure, we can’t watch everything all the time, we catch-up at a later date because we’ve DVR’d it or watch it on the multiple apps networks have churned out in the last year (where commercial air also), but it’s usually after we’ve read all of the comments from the peanut gallery. So the element of surprise is lost and our thoughts about the content are already shaped by what we have read.

It is for all these reasons that make television advertising so vital. TV is a medium we must watch if we want to understand what’s going on right now. We have to be watching the The Walking Dead or the World Series when it is happening. Appointment viewing still exists.

And, of course, there are commercials attached to this viewing. Even if you comment negatively, you are adding to the conversation and others comment. I liked it, :0 or whatever is being said, creates awareness about your ad—and isn’t that the goal?

Strong TV commercials themselves provide social currency. The Samsung takedown on Apple spurred plenty of conversation because we were watching shows live and we watched the ads. They struck a chord. People had opinions. They posted those opinions.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate venue for this. Mashable, Adweek and others have live chats where no one’s talking about the game; they are just talking about the commercials. Granted this is a very specific stage for ad creative where excellence is expected, but it’s a reality. People want to express their feelings about ads. And that’s a good thing.

So while time shifting is a very big deal for TV advertisers because, of course, people skip ads, we shouldn’t panic about the almighty fast forward button. There is nothing more valuable than LIVE today, live shows, first run shows and the ads that run along with them. The two-screen commentary that goes with that that can amplify the ads to greater heights than any traditional TV ad could ever achieve.

So pick your spots. gyro reached maximum value by creating an advertisement about advertising talking to the advertising crowd during a show about advertising. We debuted a TV spot, the first for our digital client Turn, during the Mad Men finale. We were a part of the show while it happened live. Turn was a part of the conversation and those who missed it could watch it later. There is immense value to that.

TV ads have been declared dead incessantly. It’s a tired argument. TV ads are more relevant now than ever if they fit into the social dialogue that is happening every second. It’s just up to marketers and their agencies to capture people’s attention so they want to talk about the ads…in a positive light.

Kenneth Hein is the global marketing director at gyro.
Follow him at @KennethHein

Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network

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