Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Online Media Realities

Whenever someone argues more brand money should shift out of TV it’s accompanied by some statistics about how much time people are spending in digital channels. But clearly that doesn’t tell the whole story (which we all know, but sometimes fail to admit). Two quotes I ran across today help speak to other side of that coin. The first, from John Battelle in his 5 Question interview over at Digiday (I’ve been loving these 5 question things they’re doing, btw). When asked specifically why the money hasn’t followed the attention, Battelle responded:

Marketers haven’t seen the clear line between investment and return. They see that with TV. We just can’t avoid the elephant in the room. When Kraft puts $25 million into six DMAs [on TV] over one week and sees an 11 percent lift in its scan data off retail, it says let’s do that again. That is a direct line between investment and return. That hasn’t been established online. It leads all sorts of inteligent people to have six or eight lines of debate. One is that it’s the wrong question. Online is a different medium. You can’t expect to draw a bright line between investment and return like TV. Another is we don’t have the right unit/creative/scalability/measurement. I really think the core is the large marketers who are the drivers of this debate, whether they’re actively participating in it or driving it by not moving the money, haven’t seen the return yet. They don’t think they can trust it.

This sentiment is reflected in this morning’s FT Lex column which talks about companies becoming more adept at harnessing the power of social media, including finding some correlation between stock price and the number of Facebook likes added over a period. They close with this, though:

But correlations are one thing and causality quite another. Perhaps a company’s share price is rising at the same time as it is adding thousands of new Facebook followers because of a huge marketing push elsewhere. Also, do social media reduce the chance of a brand surviving a big negative shock? The internet is unambiguously good for consumers. But it remains a double-edged sword for companies.

Obviously I’m a believer that there are big opportunities for brands on the web, but I’m also a believer that the situation around why money is moving more slowly than many think it should is not as cut and dry and many want you to believe.

April 26, 2011