Miruna Codeanu

Fixing advertising

In espresso on September 26, 2014 at 5:29 am
What’s Ello?

billboard-advertisementEllo is a new social network. What’s new about a new social network?Ello claims to be different because it has no advertising. Here’s how Ello defines itself: “Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers.We originally built Ello as a private social network. Over time, so many people wanted to join Ello that we built a public version of Ello for everyone to use.” 

Why’s Ello special?

I am under the feeling I heard that story before. A social network that was founded for the use of a certain group and then grew to be more popular. Could that be about that Harvard student who started a social network to be used withing the university, that guy Zuckerberg?

Remember Facebook back in the days? When I joined, there was little advertising on Facebook. I remember that simply creating a Facebook business page could have a viral effect, if your audience was on Facebook. Later, audiences started coming to Facebook and content started being shared, more advertising money coming to Facebook.

Advertising on social networks

I always compare Facebook with television and I’ve always said the next kind of television will be socially influenced. So, you have one tv channel. Half the people on Facebook have more than 200 friends in their network and have definitely hit some like buttons on some pages, be those business pages or public persons. Unlike traditional television, every other page or person you follow is another channel and a new content generator and this creates noise around the message, this makes your brand or personal message be jammed by many other posts. On top of all that noise we have advertising. Advertising is a source of money and profit for Facebook. Against charging its users, Facebook chose advertising. Facebook’s big problem is that it hasn’t yet figured out a way to make advertising relevant, and neither did any of the other social networks. Google could be somewhat closer to that, but not there yet. Raise your hand if you have ever found an irrelevant ad in Google. You probably did, at least once in your life. But when a social network means to sell itself by the lack of advertising, it means that marketers, we have a problem.

Adverising, the scarecrow

Although social networks have an incredible amount of information on targeting people, advertising is still sometimes irrelevant. People are not sick of advertising, people are sick of bad, irrelevant advertising. People want to find things when they need them, and advertisers would want to reach those people who need or would need their products. We, as marketers, we’d rather spend our money on relevant advertising for relevant people. Advertising became the scarecrow in the last few years. Most of adults using social networks have watched tv during their lifetime and this means they carry a baggage on advertising. Advertising in old media always offered little means of targetting appropriate audience which led to irrelevant advertising. Those people have a reflex: “Oh it’s commercial break, let’s find something else to watch” or “Oh, It’s commercial break, I’m gonna go powder my nose now”. Advertising on TV became something to be ignored because most of the times it was irrelevant. Men watching TV did not need tampons. People without new born kids did not care about the latest Milupa milk. This created a bad image on advertising. Now, advertising has to work some PR magic on itself.

Fixing advertising

How do we make the ugly frog become prince charming and who has to kiss the frog? Dear social media users, you might think you hate advertising, but you don’t. Remember that time when you really needed winter tires and an ad just popped in front of your eyes? Remember that time when you looked at a hotel for your next trip and Booking.com emailed you with the best offer that matched your criteria? Remember you actually like watching good commercials? Dear marketers, first step is admitting we have a problem: advertising has reached a point where it has a negative image. Advertising needs to be fixed. Fixing advertising is really simple and it will benefit both marketers and buyers: make it relevant. Consumers will be happy with relevant advertising and marketers will be satisfied to spend their money in the right places. Dear social media networks, give marketers more accent to targeting criteria in order to be able to kiss this frog.

Back to Ello:

Here’s Ello’s manifesto:“Your social network is owned by advertisers.Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.You are not a product.” More on Ello soon. Will Ello be able to sell itself by not advertising and where will Ello’s money com from?

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