Citing examples from campaigns run on Funny or Die and AdMob, Sequoia Capital partner Mark Kvamme told an audience of marketers at OMMA Global in San Francisco today, “If you can harness social media marketing, you don’t have to pay for advertising any more.”

Sequoia Capital partner Mark Kvamme, citing examples from campaigns run on Funny or Die and AdMob, told an audience of marketers at OMMA Global in San Francisco today, “If you can harness social media marketing, you don’t have to pay for advertising any more.”

Kvamme, whose experience in advertising dates back to the 1980s, when he led advertising agency CKS Group, justified his argument using Neil Borden’s “Marketing Mix” theory. He said Borden’s elements of promotion — advertising, direct marketing, PR, point of sale and word of mouth — are still valid for marketers today, just in different ways.

The biggest difference can be found in the word of mouth category, said Kvamme, who subsequently called it a tremendous — and cheap — opportunity. “If you take what’s going on on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Digg, the masses are starting to make their own media, and it’s basically free,” he noted. “So if you can figure out how to work in this world, you can get your message out very quickly.”

Funny or Die’s (one of Kvamme’s Sequoia investments) recent Presidential Reunion, which brought together actors who’d portrayed U.S. presidents throughout the years on “Saturday Night Live” at a cost of $20,000 (primarily flying all the participants in), according to Kvamme, yielded some 3 million views.

Presidential Reunion was a bit of a passion project for Funny or Die co-founder Will Ferrell, but Kvamme also pointed to last summer’s relatively unsuccessful movie “The Goods” starring Jeremy Piven (and produced by Funny or Die co-founder Adam McKay), the expected box office returns for which were lifted 15 percent through a Funny or Die campaign including prizes for retweets on Twitter (which led to the movie becoming a Twitter trending topic), featuring on the front page of Funny or Die and its Facebook fan page, two appearances on the front-page of Digg for custom Funny or Die content, live-tweeting from the premiere and a live conversation with McKay on Ustream. It generated “several million dollars in sales for something [the studio] probably didn’t pay Funny or Die enough for,” said Kvamme.

But the next big opportunity is in mobile, said Kvamme, using AdMob to illustrate (again, another Sequoia company, but at least one that’s had a successful exit, with Google beating out Apple to buy it for $750 million). With more than twice the global penetration of the Internet, mobile — especially smartphones — represent an opportunity to harken back to that “Marketing Mix” theory, because they can encapsulate all the elements of promotion from one single screen that’s attached to its owner at all times. An AdMob campaign for the movie “Wolfman” had ads on mobile media sites ad within applications that users could click on in order to get more information, share it with their friends, buy tickets directly and set up a mobile calendar alert.

Sure, Kvamme is pitching his own investments here, but to his credit he said that one of his favorite and most-visited sites is search.twitter.com, for keeping up with what people are talking about online. He also talked about Facebook’s opportunity to become the new mass media — with half its 400 million users logging in every day, “that’s almost like what broadcast television was 20 or 30 years ago” — and to dominate and grow the market if it ever does launch its own payment platform inside its trusted environment, just as PayPal revolutionized eBay.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Why 2010 Still Won’t Be the Year of Mobile Advertising

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

By Liz Gannes

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

Related stories

  1. IF seems to be the operative term here. It’s a really self serving pile of gook this guy is serving up here. Is he saying that Sequoia is going to close down all their ad companies? Should we begin with renegotiating the Admob deal? Google surely doesn’t want to pay $750M for a company that serves ads, do they?

  2. Sanjay Maharaj Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Pay attention to his remarks, I do believe very strongly that social media marketing is the game changer here, it makes total sense from what we are already seeing happen. How Facebook scaled out to 400 million users is a perfect example, they certainly did not advertise on TV to get where they are today.

  3. super genius llc Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Poisonous treacle. This is the kind of nonsense that still has marketing clients asking for “free, viral campaigns.” Can’t you just put something on facebook? The statement, “So if you can figure out how to work in this world, you can get your message out very quickly,” jumps over so much ground it takes your breath away. Working in that world “effectively” is NOT free – especially if you’re brand.


      I agree with Super Genius LLC. Social media marketing can be effective if executed well. It enhances reach, strengthens relationships, establishes credibility/trust and can work at amazing speed. To Super Genius’ point, social media marketing is not free. It requires expertise in digital technologies, marketing, advertising and a whole new way of thinking.

  4. Just what we all want to hear. Free, easy, no cost. Aha, that’s the American way. Money for nothing and the chicks are free.


  5. I’d say it works for some products and only for a period of time; that movie campaign may have worked but how would you do the same for the latest car from Ford for instance?

  6. Tom harness the power of social media seems to be the best way to advertise, but to be notice, the idea needs to be original and interesting.

  7. Biljana Pesevska Thursday, March 18, 2010

    It is more than obvious that mobile marketing is the next big thing. With constant rise in the number of smart phone users and the use of mobile apps, you’d have to be blind not to see and grasp the early bird opportunities mobile marketing is offering. And yes, only if those users are your target.

  8. Do you see social media as a replacement for traditional advertising? | SmartBlog On Social Media Thursday, March 18, 2010

    [...] capitalist Mark Kvamme says the words companies everywhere are longing to hear, and they’re in the lead story of today’s [...]

  9. A textbook case of this social is free advertising is Einstein Bagel’s free bagel giveaway on Facebook that netted over 250,000 fans. I wrote about it here: http://blogwithog.typepad.com/dialogue/2010/01/a-shmear-of-smart-marketing.html

    On the other hand, I know of another case with mobile marketing where what really drove the results was a broadcast push. So free social and paid media, can’t we all get along?

  10. Of the 88,000 plus videos uploaded each day to YouTube alone, how many achieve this kind of viral success? Anyone? Maybe a handful. And it’s not just because of the content…there’s some outstanding stuff out there that never quite catches on.

    Yeah, putting all your eggs in the Social Media basket will bring you marketing success. In the same way playing the lottery will make you a millionaire.

Comments have been disabled for this post