Written by James McKinny, CEO of Traction Video
If you’ve worked with a marketing agency before, you’re probably already aware that the stereotype of digital marketers clinging to buzzwords like moths to flames is, well, much less a stereotype than a universal truth. It may not be entirely their fault, as the industry of digital marketing as a whole is still somewhat wet behind the ears. Much like toddlers, digital marketers are still growing their vocabulary, so the eagerness to adopt new and interesting terms is somewhat to be expected.

Condescending comparisons aside, digital marketers have proven they can hang with the big dogs of Madison Avenue who focus primarily on big-budget television ad campaigns. eMarketer estimates marketing budgets for digital media have already surpassed those of television advertising (source). Perhaps buzzwords sell.

The most direct attack on traditional TV advertising staged by today’s digital marketers also coincides with the latest and greatest new buzzword: traction videos. Heard it?

‘Big TV’ has made a career of exclusively catering to ‘Big Marketing’. Nielson estimates the average prime time TV commercial costs over $110,000 for a 30 second spot. Said another way, one 30 second prime time commercial exceeds the annual marketing budget of almost every startup or small business, and that still excludes production costs.

Traction videos have been gaining attention (and marketing dollars) as agencies urge more and more of their clients to follow in the footsteps of companies like Dollar Shave Club (DSC). Michael Dubin, the founder of DSC, paved the way for the startup community with one of the first massively viral traction videos, and with an all-in cost amounting to less than 2 seconds in prime time TV commercial rates. The DSC traction video was not only entertaining, but impactful. The viral video generated 12,000 new customers within 48 hours of airing on the internet. Dubin further notes traction videos have earned the lion’s share of DSC’s marketing budget ever since, suggesting they had a sizeable impact on the company’s $1 Billion price tag when acquired by Unilever in 2016.

Given the DSC story, it isn’t difficult to understand why a whirlwind of new successful startups now owe much of their notoriety to their initial investments in traction videos (this list includes Silicon Valley sweethearts like AirBnB, Salesforce, Square, Slack, Groupon…).

As it turns out, not all new buzzwords are bad. Perhaps I’ll stop equating the digital marketers, who spot these trends early on, to toddlers.