Facebook ad boycott reminds us: every company is a media company
Thinkfluencers preach how the social era makes every company a media company. And as the Facebook ad boycott spreads to other social media, marketing spend will get redefined as every company learns to be a media company. Here’s how it may play out.
MARKETING ENDGAME DESPITE FACEBOOK AD BOYCOTT
Customer acquisition cost is the root of marketing effectiveness. Facebook has been a clear leader on effective marketing spend, but not at all costs. The Facebook ad boycott shows brands are increasingly serious about the social positions they’re taking.
The list of boycott brands will grow until Facebook gets more serious about handling misinformation and hate speech.
This will eventually blow over, but it’ll force companies to develop Facebook alternatives. One of the best long-term alternatives is to be the media themselves.
This Facebook ad boycott moment is a catalyst to think about what it means to be your own media company.
SHOULD EVERY COMPANY BE A MEDIA COMPANY?
Short answer: Yes. Your company and execs must have a voice it can distribute in a way that controls messages and budgets. And I mean real voice, not “authenticity” manufactured by daily conference calls and endless editing.
Longer answer: It’s harder than it looks for three reasons.
First, content marketers — whether full time employees or agencies — too often lack subject matter expertise so any voice they give a company or execs is generic and watered down.
This is especially true in technical fields like housing, banking, and fintech. And it’s a problem (and opportunity) through the ages, not just now. It’s just growing in importance every day, month, year as more people consider social feeds news.
Second, once a company decides to go transparent — whether by taking a position on social issues or deciding to be the media — they simply cannot produce material that’s generic or watered down if they expect to win credibility and attract/convert customers.
One great solution here is hiring journalists as traditional media keeps getting squeezed. Venture capital companies like Andreesen Horowitz and Collaborative Fund are two strong examples here.
Third, budgeting is a puzzle. Hiring journalists and building your own distribution platforms can be expensive. But so can traditional advertising, so you must find the balance that works for your customer growth and retention strategy.
ARE B2B or D2C COMPANIES BEST AT MEDIA?
You could argue business-to-business (B2B) companies would be the best at long-form (aka thought leadership) content, but only if content teams have subject matter expertise. Otherwise credibility risk is even greater. You can only come with generic material for so long if your content is intended to support a multi-month sales cycle.
Great B2B teams bridge the subject matter expertise gap in long sales cycles with smart, shorter-form video and other social content. They win more by repeated engagement than deep thought leadership. Still, thought leadership eventually becomes important to educate, retain, and drive adoption among existing B2B clients.
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies in finance know that media is marketing lifeblood. Intuit buying Credit Karma and Fox buying Credible show the marriage of media and consumer finance.
Acorns partnering with CNBC is another strong example of media being the marketing machine.
Getting the media marketing model right in consumer finance requires scale budgets just like big ad or lead buys. But finance companies that become their own media entities will win in the end.
WILL MEDIA OR FINANCE COMPANIES WIN IN THE END?
As noted above, housing and consumer finance continue merging into media.
Zillow built a billion in annual revenue off of a media model (selling leads to lending and real estate pros). Then last year, they went down funnel by entering both lending and home buying/selling businesses directly.
Why sell off leads you’re generating to service providers for a few bucks when you can directly offer services to those leads and make a lot of bucks?
Zillow’s new model is untested, but is a critical benchmark to prove the hybrid media/finance company concept. If/when they do, it’ll be too late for those who haven’t started down this path themselves.
Meanwhile, media companies specializing in housing, banking, and fintech are getting better and smarter about letting companies use their platforms for long-form content creation and distribution.
COVID accelerates this trend for B2B media companies as live events — a critical part of B2B sales cycles — give way to digital content.
As D2C consumer finance and real estate companies mature, they have a huge opportunity to invest in media models that can control their customer acquisition and retention more credibly and for lower cost than traditional scale ad spending.
And as noted above, finance and real estate companies that become their own media entities — organically or by buying platforms like The Basis Point 🙂 — will win in the end.
– Why advertisers are boycotting Facebook (NYT)
– Facebook sees growing boycott as brands protest handling of speech (WSJ)
– Fox News Empire Buys Credible, Validating Marriage of Media & Consumer Finance
– How Zillow Makes Billions Reinventing How We Buy & Sell Homes