Advertising wants to be free? Get a clue!

From the shamelessly-reposted-from-elsewhere department:

Scott Karp on Publishing 2.0 seems to have a hard time understanding why, in a social media new media web 2.0 conversational marketing world, companies would still want to advertise:

I’ve written before about the challenge MySpace faces in getting companies to pay for what individuals can get for free, i.e. a MySpace page. But really all of media — including the newly adopted software industry — faces the same problem. In fact, small businesses connecting with customers directly sounds like a challenge to Google as well.

I don’t think that’s a difficult question at all. In fact, I think the answer is startlingly, blindingly obvious. Here’s the comment I posted in response:

Either I’m stupid, and too quickly jumping to what I think is the obvious response to your post, Scott, or you’re missing something really obvious.

Conversations are slow, by and large, because they require the formation of some level of relationship. Sure, there’s the occasional viral shooting star that jumps to huge numbers very quickly, but for most companies, building audience is long, hard, slow work.

Good work, and rewarding work, but long and slow.

Advertising is a way to short-cut that process … a way to speed up awareness levels that then buy you the opportunity to have a conversation with a potential client, which in turn buys you the opportunity to potentially make a sale.

Let’s face it: not everyone who needs office cleaning done in Anytown is going to jump on MySpace to find a janitor. And not every janitorial firm will rank in the first few Google results, particularly if they’re new to the new media game.

So advertising is a way to pay to get on that first page. Maybe it’s temporary. Maybe you abandon it when you get big and smart and popular enough.

But it’s a good kick-start.

I think we see the social media marketing success stories like English Cut and think that it’s all easy, quick, and free. Well, Thomas Mahon has been blogging for almost two years. There are overnight successes, but they are by and large the exception, not the rule.

I also wonder if overnight successes have any staying power. Andrew Catton of DabbleDB was at Vancouver Enterprise Forum last night, and one thing he said caught my ear: the blogosphere buzz that rocketed DabbleDB to the forefront is largely over by now … and now the company has to survive and thrive on its own merits, and on a slower, more “normal” growth trajectory.

I live and die on the successes of social media integrated into the lifeblood of a company for marketing, for product development, for voice of the customer, and PR. But there’s no doubt that advertising still has a major, major role to play.

Perhaps all businesses should be viral, but that does not mean that all can instantly and successfully become viral.

[tags] advertising, google, adsense, adwords, publishing2.0, john koetsier [/tags]