B-Reel's Max Ahlborn on No Media Spend

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Last week I had the great privilege of spending four days together with some incredible people in the One Show jury. The first morning we dove straight into it, and case study after case study rolled by on the monitors in front of us. By the end of the 20th entry we noticed a pattern emerging: crescendos of press and blog posts along side a proud announcement that not a single dollar had been spent on a media buy. A pattern that in just a few hours had become, well, slightly cliche.

Obviously the teams behind all these campaigns have done an extraordinary job. The problem though, is that without us knowing the characteristics or the size of the target market these numbers don't tell us all that much. 100,000 impressions, 10,000 tweets or 1,000 blog posts mean almost nothing, and whether they were achieved with purchased or earned media becomes irrelevant. To further add to the confusion, very few case studies talked about what was actually said, i.e. the quality of the numbers achieved.

Now, don't get me wrong here. I am all for clients to spend a whole lot more effort, time and money on great ideas and quality production earning attention instead of wide banner campaigns with a 0.015 click rate. But, like Faris Yakob puts it: "Having a media budget isn't a bad thing. And not having one isn't necessarily bad either."

Also, Fernanda Romano is absolutely right when pointing out that even though one might not have invested in buying media space, money has definitely been spent on ideation, production and perhaps also seeding to bring up the impressions. And furthermore, the brand should definitely already have invested in having resources available to deal with all the attention and interaction that the successful campaign generates.

Anyway. Halfway through the second day and over a hundred case studies later (many with a similar ending), I put together nomediaspend.com during lunch and launched it with a single tweet. The idea was obviously to comment on this ad industry behavior to try and create a little bit of discussion around it while at the same time also have some silly fun and kick start a small viral experiment. And it took off. Other members of the jury helped promote it, which in turn gave us some PR, tweets and even free banner space at the FWA, which was a lot of fun in a meta kind of way. By lunch the day after we had reached our goal of 10,000 page views, and the counter is still ticking. And all this with No Media Spend!

Max Ahlborn is a Partner/Executive Producer at B-Reel.

P.S. There are exceptions to everything. The absolutely incredible stats for the Old Spice Responses campaign for instance have to be considered relevant even without deeper insight into the target group, simply because of the massiveness of it all. (You can probably skip to 2:34).

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