If video killed the Radio Star, can social media replace TV?

Is social media really the magic bullet that many modern marketers would have you believe? Or is it simply a cost-effective, relatively easy-to-use new marketing tool that can amplify your existing Integrated Marketing Communications? The Melbourne Business School’s Mark Ritson is clearly in the second camp, in his Mumbrella360 video from June 2016 he slams digital marketers for being under-skilled and relying on digital marketing, and in particular social media marketing, in place of a considered strategy.

I don’t believe that Ritson is suggesting we disregard digital marketing to return to our roots in print, radio and television advertising. I believe he is upset by the lack of strategic skill shown by some marketers in their heavy reliance on social media and the resulting devaluation of marketing as a managerial function. He sums it up in saying, “You cannot be a marketer if all you know about is digital.” There needs to be an understanding of how different channels interact – particularly when we consider the prevalence of multi-screening. The power lies in consumers’ receiving messages from more than one channel, thereby reinforcing the message.

Danaher and Dagger’s article on Comparing the Relative Effectiveness of Advertising Channels goes a step further than Ritson’s presentation, they appear to be attesting the merits of traditional media over new media when considering marketing spend. I don’t think we can look at these two viewpoints without considering the context of when they were presented, Danaher and Dagger’s article was based on a retail sale in 2010 and Ritson presented at Mumbrella360 in 2016 – six years is not much in the evolution of the human race, but in the evolution of Integrated Marketing Communications it is an eon.

Danaher and Dagger state that, “Notably, the most effective advertising channels are all traditional media: catalogs, television, and direct mail…” while “The least-used medium is social media, with only 2% of LP members claiming to have visited either the Facebook or Twitter sites for the retailer in the campaign period.” If the results of this study are to be taken as gospel, a diversion from traditional media advertising to new media would be folly as it does not deliver results, however considering the publication date of this article we can assume that social media consumption has increased across markets – particularly in the older segment of their target market who can now be targeted via Facebook advertisements whereas in the era when this article was written they would need to be ‘friends’ with the business on Facebook to see a post.

It is also important to note that, at the time of writing, Danaher and Dagger’s retailer had “limited online sales offerings through its website” this is likely to have been common for department stores at the time, whereas now most department stores offer extensive online shopping. However, it may also be in indicative of the habits of their target market, who perhaps preferred the in-store shopping experience.


While it is not my place to contradict these greats of marketing theory, I do think that with the increasing fragmentation of television media and the increased use of on-demand viewing the power of television advertising is diminishing. However, I am not surprised at the effectiveness of radio advertising, particularly when you consider that commercial radio stations continue to play in so many cars, workplaces and construction sites across the country.

Social media is now an essential part of the Integrated Marketing Mix but, as always, it is important to recognise that it is not intended to replace traditional media as a sales tool. It should be a brand awareness and engagement tool. The most consistent source of failure on social media is when the communication becomes too sales-orientated.

6 thoughts on “If video killed the Radio Star, can social media replace TV?

  1. Hi Kelly. Great read, as always. You made some very interesting points about the 6 year lag between Ritson’s video and the article.

    Reading the summary, I would question though whether social media was an essential part of the integrated marketing mix. I do think it has it’s place but I’m not sure, personally, I’d go so far to say it was essential. I guess it really depends on who you are trying to reach. Ritson’s video really has made me think about just how effective it really is for brands compared to some of the more traditional methods.

    This is just screaming for a night in a pub debate. I’d love to be in a room of marketers discussing this


    1. Hi Keith,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog, I would agree with you that social media is not necessarily an essential part of the integrated marketing mix – Apple have certainly proven this point! However, I do think it is an opportunity for a business to communicate and engage with their customers (even if it is just a subset), it provides them with the chance to build a personality around the brand, gauge customer sentiment and even test ideas.

      I think the issue is when a business sees social media as the magic bullet that will get their brand out to the masses with minimal cost outlay, hence leading to increased sales conversion with a maximum return on investment.


  2. Hi, Kelly.
    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you say “the power lies in consumers receiving messages from more than one channel, thereby reinforcing the message”. Indeed, social media should not be used as a means to replace traditional media but as a complement to the overall marketing communications strategy. I think social media on its own is not enough to generate brand awareness or engagement, but it can help in reinforcing the message that has been delivered through other channels.

    Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say social media is an essential part of the marketing mix. As Ritson presented, brand followers are only a small percentage of the existent customer base and the ones who engage with brands are even less. And not even to mention that the click through rate of ads has always been extremely low! I personally do not follow any brand and I think I would only follow one if I got something out of it (i.e. discounts, vouchers or compelling content on the site). Having said that, this doesn’t mean that all companies should completely ignore social media. I guess whether using it as a channel or not will depend on the nature of the business and the business objectives. There are many examples of companies that are using social media to engage with and provide more value to customers, whereas there are other examples where businesses are not really achieving much. I think in the latter, it would be good either changing the strategy or focusing on other channels.


    1. Hi catatbd,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog post, I think the point you make about brand followers being only a small percentage of the customer base. There are a lot of products that I purchase regularly and feel very positively toward, but I do not follow them on Facebook, and concurrently there are a number of businesses, publications and brands that I follow from whom I have never purchased a single item.

      I was discussing this with some colleagues the other day and one pointed out that older Australians (45-60) are one of the fastest growing segments of users on Facebook, but she said (anecdotally) many in this segment do not follow brands but use it simply to keep up with friends and family.


  3. Hi Kelly,
    Great post, and also what a catchy title, I can’t stop playing that song on my head hehehe
    I also think that social media is a very important element of the marketing mix, and its importance is going to increase over the years. I believe the influence of tv is decreasing, now people have many entertainment options, and social media is becoming more and more important over the years. This is so notorious that according to a Deloitte study 85% of people do other activities while watching tv, and most of those activities involve the use of internet or a social media platform. Besides, according to the same study, younger generations prefer to spend their time using those platforms than consuming traditional media content.
    In the other hand I agree with professor Ritson in the fact that people use social media to connect with other persons, not with brands. I think that for a company creating and sharing content in social media is easy, but definitely it is not easy to create a deep impact on consumers or to generate the expected brand awareness. Probably the low results of response in that investment is due to the message and not to the platform.


    1. Hi dguzmang257,
      Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog post, I appreciate your input 🙂
      When we consider the decline of the influence of television advertising I think we also need to bear in mind the fragmentation of the television media – there are so many more channels, even on free-to-air television alone, than there used to be. I also think another factor reducing the impact of television is the rise of ‘on-demand’ viewing, for instance people downloading entire series, watching netflix or even recording free-to-air television and fast-forwarding the advertisements.


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