Abuzz About Buzz

Wow, that didn’t take long, did it? In a matter of weeks, Google Buzz looks to be a serious player in the social media arena. But, first, let’s back-up a couple of paces.

With billions of ad dollars pouring into paid search, we figured we should know a little something about it. Wouldn’t hurt to know how efficiently — or inefficiently — programs like Adwords could acquire new customers for local businesses, relative to broadcast television. And what we learned was that local broadcast TV wins that battle hands-down for most local advertisers, just as it (TV) does in head-to-head competitions with other local media.

So, clearly threatened by the progress we had made in exposing their soft underbelly, Google immediately launched a fierce counterattack with Buzz. (Okay, maybe we’re taking a little too much credit here!)

Google Buzz LogoIf you haven’t heard (and you should have, by now), Buzz is Google’s new social media platform. It boasts some of the same features that made Facebook and Twitter wildly popular. Lots of people will be using this — very soon. And ad dollars will invariably follow eyeballs, regardless of the specific volume or cost of those eyeballs. Oh, we might want to add here that Google is notorious for monetizing a good idea. This makes Buzz a legitimate threat to local media, (another) one that will likely go wholly unnoticed for at least one day too many.

No, we haven’t cracked the code for Buzz … yet. There are, however, some things you should know:

  • Yes, advertisers are already “buying” it. Literally and figuratively.
  • Yes, local advertisers will jump on the bandwagon too. Lots of them.
  • Yes, Buzz is already “game-changingly huge”. By that, we mean “bigger than Twitter” in a few short weeks.
  • Yes, it will probably enjoy the same spoils that Adwords did, because many businesses will haphazardly assume it is “cheap-and-easy” (and just like Adwords … it won’t be).
  • Advertisers who pay for impressions on Buzz — instead of leveraging its built-in social (read: “free”) networking — will blindly underwrite the cost of this service for users, and the cost of their competitors’ leads.

Buzz got so big so fast because Google brilliantly bolted it on to Gmail. In other words, if you have a Gmail account, you now have a Buzz account. In case you were wondering, there are some 38 million Gmail accounts out there.

Just as with search and social media, there will be positives and negatives with Buzz. In short, these will probably boil down to the following two postures:

  • It’s likely that local businesses can benefit from having a free Buzz account — so will their website traffic.
  • It’s likely that local businesses can and will overspend for leads by advertising on Buzz.

For now, your choice is to (a) get yourself a free Buzz account and learn more about your newest competitor or (b) drive with the headlights off. We chose “a”.

Those are ESA’s recommendations for now. We’ll have more, so stay tuned. More “buzz” to follow.

Dave Eckstein, ESA & Company | Real. Local. Results: 2012Dave Eckstein is a Partner in the firm ESA & Company. He specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local businesses and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition. He plays baseball, but isn't that Dave Eckstein.

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  1. Too many stations and station groups have forgotten how to just sell good television marketing. A good message, maximizing reach with the adequate frequency is hands down the way for a local business to go. We need to stop saying we’re dinosaurs and get back to being T-Rex. Eat the competition!

  2. Right on, Ed. It’s all about the math and the message.

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