ford pays media to earn media

Disclosure: Ford is a Humongo Nation sponsor. We'll be objective and critical anyway, 'cause we know Scott Monty can take it.

Here's a little secret about "earned" social media buzz -- it's extremely difficult to control unless you pay for advertising to seed it. Ford, for instance, is getting a lovefest over at Mashable for its Facebook landing page doing a tantric-slow reveal of the new Ford Explorer. Skip over to and at 12 different times today Ford will release an interview or Q&A about the new SUV (a nice design with about 30% better fuel economy than the last model).

Buried in the Mashable review, however, is the news that Ford is also paying for online advertising to reach 50 million people per day. Assuming an efficient $4 CPM in their media buy, that's $200,000 per day Ford is dropping to build the front-end buzz behind the Facebook landing page. If Ford sustained the campaign for a month, that's $6 million in national advertising to grab you, a Facebook fan.

We love the promotion, the slow-build, the teasing nature -- and Ford gets kudos for reportedly being the first automaker to launch a new vehicle via the Internet and not at an auto show (you know, spinning platform, lights and smoke, women in sequined dresses). Given how busy everyone is today, it makes sense to appeal directly to consumers on the web where we can slip away for 60 seconds to ogle a new vehicle. Ford also shows remarkable restraint in not pushing the new Explorer concurrently at the main site today -- if consumers want to see the SUV, they have to hit Facebook, creating even more pull for that portal. But as Ford's estimated $200k-a-day media burn rate attests, if you want to make friends on Facebook, you often have to pay for it.


Howie said...

Ack. Mashable needs to be ignored because they have earned being ignored. Been thinking of picketing the the NY event with signs saying Petey Man-Loves Mark.

Anyway for automotive in my opinion they waste 50% of their marketing dollars. (local dealer's deals is the only non-wasted advertisements)Because the minute the vehicle is on the street rolling around that is their ad. End of story. If you like the look you will go online and check the specs. You might ask the person in the parking lot if they like it. But no matter how much is spent on media if its an ugly car (think the old football shaped Taurus) you become nothing but a fleet vehicle. And that 30 sec spot of the car driving curves on that beautiful mountain road hugging the pavement? Means nothing to the person commuting to work in Des Moines.

Now I just saved Brandflakes from any Scott Monty wrath because he now get mad at me instead!

Ben Kunz said...

Howie, I do think it's a smart campaign -- and it does show that if one moves beyond social media hyperbole, it is just another form of *media* that has to work as part of a broader, integrated effort.

I first heard of this via NPR this morning (old-school public relations), and I'm sure I'll see Ford ads online pulling me into Facebook. The lead time is six months out before the car will be on dealer lots, so Ford is smartly seeding a buzz campaign. I'm certain we'll see addition elements launched soon, bloggers previews, social media contests, microsites, mobile apps. If Ford comes out with a video game, I'm all in.

But back the point: Integrated media works best, and now SM is just becoming one more prong.

Howie said...

I actually agree with you Ben. Because this is the Prelude to the unveiling. My point was more meant after the unveiling. So I agree with you 100%. Kind of like the Fiesta Tour Scott did. I didn't realize it was still 6 months out before being sold.

Ford seems to be doing this very well as a specific strategy. Most other Brands don't seem to take this angle and stick to the Here I Am Buy Me same old same old.

Craig McGill said...

I think it shows a couple of things:

1) Ford get to say that their approach is multi-faceted and they're doing ads as well as the content (though I still believe ads to be a waste of time. A) People talk about content not ads and B) wasn't a study done in Jan that said it was people of lower intellect - and earnings - who clicked on online ads? )

2) It is strange though because it almost suggests that they are worried the content isn't enough to drive people alone. Does that make this a win for the ad team then and not so much the social media content makers?

3) And I don't know if advertising can be defined as controlling because while it guarantees the first mention, it doesn't guarantee what will be said next. If they had wanted to control that, they should have been paying bloggers as well.

Now your brand news diet is chockfull of tasty tales of Customer Experiences (CX). Served-fresh every morning for your daily recommended dose of marketing inspirations. Never sugar coated. May contain nuts. Archives | Look back at these past bites