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​Squarespace & Wix prove paid media is here to stay

Blog post   •   Feb 11, 2015 14:00 GMT

If I received a dollar for every time I have heard, discussed or read the terms content marketing, inbound or growth hacking over the last 18 months, I would be a very rich man.

As someone whose day job it is to optimise all of the above, I do not think any of these terms are a “flash in the pan”. They are all here to stay and will be core strategies employed by the modern marketer. However Squarespace and Wix’ use of the most expensive paid media tv spend in the world at last week's Super Bowl has made me think again about the importance of paid media in the promotional mix.

Is paid media still marketing’s MVP?

Squarespace and Wix are both leading web development and content management platforms that have seen rapid user adoption and investment over the last few years. Squarespace is venture capital funded to the tune of $78m. Wix conducted an IPO in 2013 raising $123m and currently has a market cap of $713m.

So both have the resources to invest in something technology companies can’t survive without… growth.

I have long been a proponent of the continuing rise in importance of owned and earned media in the modern marketer’s toolbox. I have no doubt that the digital transformation happening at most companies will improve the effectiveness of these media at the expense of the traditional paid media advertising channels. Of total marketing spend this has often represented over 90% of marketing budgets and I believe this will reduce to approximately 70% of total marketing spend.

However, advertising spend will remain the largest part of the marketing budget. Whilst new forms of advertising spend will grow such as search, social, display and retargeting - especially on mobile - to take a brand to the next level, traditional tv ad spend will always have a place. Until digital overtakes which could be as soon as 2016 in the US, Forrester predicts.

Shooting for success with integrated campaigns

Both technology companies have aced their Super Bowl tv buys by integrating them into wider campaigns. Unlike many traditional B2C brand spots, they possess calls to action and continue the story on owned and earned channels. In terms of creativity, I prefer Squarespace’s effort: - a collaboration with actor Jeff Bridges, featuring a showcase site promoting his new album.

This is the second time that Squarespace has bought a Super Bowl tv spot so I assume there’s proven brand lift and ROI, considering the spot could have cost them up to 10% of their latest April 2014 funding round of $40m.

For ad debutants Wix, this was a big gamble. Seeing their arch rival’s advert and subsequent growth last year must have in part provoked them. Wix’ ad, in my subjective opinion, is a little less creative but certainly entertaining and made me laugh so could well have done the job for them. They stated that the Super Bowl spot is designed to take the “Wix brand to the next level” and turn it into a “household name.”

Scores on the board

Bravo to both companies’ CMOs for taking the risk and making the investment. I predict we will see many more B2B marketers employ more and more so-called B2C style tactics as we transition to the P2P (person to person) economy.

Both these organisations are known to have built their businesses through content marketing, inbound and growth hacking and have no large physical enterprise sales forces selling their technologies. However in order to get growth, drive demand and beat the competition they have demonstrated that only the biggest of awareness building tactics will do.

Have any thoughts on the future of paid, earned and owned that you'd like to share? Feel free to comment below.


This article was originally published on Jonathan Bean’s blog.