Social Media vs. Traditional Advertising

Posted by Erin Hall

Isn’t it funny how there is one day throughout the year that people actually watch commercials? Most of the time we use commercials as an opportunity to get up from the couch to get another soda, take the dog out or make a phone call. Some are even lucky enough to record their favorite shows and skip through the commercials altogether!

So why then are companies still spending an average of $3.5 million on a minute 30-second Super Bowl commercial spot? I can maybe understand (and that’s a big maybe) if all the commercials were a complete surprise, but according to ESPN the majority of Super Bowl advertisers posted their spots online prior to the big game. I realize advertisers may consider it a small amount to reach 111 million viewers world-wide, but why then ruin the suspense with the premature posts?

This brings me to my main idea: Is it necessary to spend millions of dollars on advertising when we are becoming a more social media-centered audience? Can a company thrive on simply using social media outlets and engaging with their target customers? I’m willing to bet so.

Take for instance local clothing company RAYGUN. Located in the East Village of downtown Des Moines, owner, Mike Draper, and the rest of his crew have never paid for a single commercial spot in print, radio or T.V. Rather they foster engagement with creativity through their Web site, facebook page and twitter account.

Through social media RAYGUN is able to immediately share their latest designs and new arrivals with their loyal followers. Employee, John Bosley, says it’s the most effective way to reach their target demographic of 18 to 34 year olds. In the past year, RAYGUN has doubled their “likes” on facebook to 10,000 and it continues to grow each week.

RAYGUN’s T-shirt designs tend to be centered on local happenings which has in turn, fostered free publicity for the store. This past fall the store came out with their “It’s Stowe Season” shirt featuring the Director of Public Works in Des Moines, Bill Stowe. Local news stations couldn’t help but talk about this timely creation in preparation for the winter season. The Stowe shirt was a social media craze and a must-have for the holidays; making it one of RAYGUN’s best sellers in 2011.


I do not doubt that the big advertisers during the Super Bowl also use social media. In fact, I’m sure they do. It just so happens they have the megabucks to pay for the 30-second ads during the biggest football game of the year. I’m just wondering what affect social media can and will have on advertising? Will we see prices for commercials eventually decrease? If nothing else, maybe people will continue to use the commercial breaks as an opportunity to get up and leave the room because they can always go to YouTube, facebook or twitter to see the commercials online.


4 responses to “Social Media vs. Traditional Advertising

  1. Pingback: Social Media: Bringing the World Together for the Love of Football… or is it Commercials? | Media Editing

  2. I do think you’re right about the shifting focus from television ads to social media. I think that with the rising popularity of Tivo and other devices that allow viewers to skip commercials altogether, television advertising will continue to fall to the wayside. That being said, I do think that television ads will always be a heavy focus for companies, especially for the Super Bowl. During the game I found myself getting up to get food or go to the bathroom during the game so I could watch the commercials (though I found them fairly disappointing this year). I think companies will need to adapt to social media, but I doubt it will take over all together.

  3. I agree with Kelsey that social media won’t completely take over commercial advertising, at least not for a long time. Social media is beneficial for businesses such as RAYGUN that don’t have millions of dollars to buy commercial time and aren’t known all around the world. But big businesses such as Target and McDonald’s will probably stick with commercials for a long time (although I’m sure they use social media too), which is why I don’t think commercial advertising prices will drop anytime soon. Advertisers know that the big businesses with millions of dollars are the ones buying commercial time. And even though many people have moved to watching television online with no commercials, sites such as YouTube and Hulu have commercials, which shows that commercial advertisers are trying to adapt to the changes.

  4. I do think there’s room in this technology world for both traditional advertising such as commercials as well as using social media as an advertising tool. It definitely depends on the company and target audience, but both can be effective. I will ‘like’ and ‘follow’ the businesses that I am most interested in and watch the Super Bowl for the new (and hopefully entertaining) commercials.

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