Social media marketers out of touch with ‘normal’ people

Australian TV-funded survey finds that advertising industry drastically over-estimates impact of social media on general public

People who work for advertising agencies are out of touch with the general public and hugely over-estimate the impact social media has on normal people.

That’s according to a survey designed to persuade the advertising industry to stem the flow of ad spend from television into social media.

The Australian study – entitled AdNation 2017 – found that those surveyed consider TV advertising to be the most liked, trusted, and memorable form of advertising and the one that draws the most attention to brands people have not heard of.

Coincidentally, the research was carried out by ThinkTV, an independent research group which is funded by the Nine, Seven, and Ten networks and Foxtel’s marketing arm Multi Channel Network.

The survey also included a sample of professionals from marketing, advertising and media, and compared their responses with a representative sample of the Australian population.

According to the survey, ‘AdLand’ professionals (the name given to the former group) are 22 per cent more likely than normal people to have used Facebook in the past seven days, 96 per cent more likely to have used Snapchat, 140 per cent more likely to have used Instagram and 238 per cent more likely to have used Twitter.

AdLand also thinks that normal people spend almost a quarter of their online time on social media, when the figure from the survey is actually 16 per cent.

social media marketers

However, there are two problems with these results.

1. People who work in social media use the networks relevant to their jobs on a daily basis, so it is no surprise that their social media usage is so much higher than people outside of the marketing and advertising industries; it would be odd if it wasn’t.

2. The survey of ‘normal Australians’ was taken from a representative sample of the Australian population. Naturally, this would have included adults of all ages; including those 50+ who are much less likely to use social media – therefore bringing the overall figures down.

But that didn’t stop ThinkTV from declaring the findings as being a seminal moment in advertising.

“We all know that in the world of marketing, media and advertising we live in a bit of a bubble,” said Kim Portrate, chief executive of ThinkTV. “AdNation 2017 pops this bubble and allows us to have a good laugh at ourselves.

“The findings represent a big opportunity for marketers and advertisers to reassess how in touch we are with the reality of everyday Australians. We need to keep their actual media consumption habits front of mind rather than simply using ourselves or our friends as a sample of one or a few.

“The findings also provide a fresh opportunity to reassess the power of TV to grow brands. TV advertising emerges the clear winner from AdNation 2017 as the most liked, trusted and memorable form of advertising and the one that draws the most attention to brands you’ve never heard of.”

In Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2017, we’re told that online ad spend will surpass TV spend this year for the first time.

social media marketers

According to Mauricio Escobar, global head of digital marketing strategy at Australian digital marketing agency eDigital, smartphone use has made this trend inevitable.

“When you look at media consumption and smart phone penetration across all demographics, people are not only spending time on social media for personal reasons (reading interesting content, talking with friends and family) but also for business purposes,” he said.

“TV – in its current state – does not offer the same level of interactivity or mobility that social media offers. However, they both are complementing each other: TV is using social media to engage viewers in real time and social media is using TV screens for easier watching. We see more people watching YouTube on TV than ever before.”

Escobar also refuted suggestions that marketing and advertising agencies are out of touch with the general public.

“There is absolutely no doubt that media consumption has become very fragmented and that social media has taken an important piece of the media consumption pie,” he said. “This means marketers are aware of the importance of social media, not only from ad agency data and insights, but also from industry and consumer research.

“I do not think ad agencies in general over-estimate the impact of social media.”

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