I don’t own a television, so while my friends are in Europe, I am living in their home where I have access to a tv with extensive cable. Generally speaking I am unimpressed with the offerings on cable tv, but have found some of the shows where people build cars, motorcycles, etc, to be a bit of fun.

It was during one of these shows that I saw an Armor All commercial which prominently listed only ONE way to contact them: facebook.com/ArmorAll

I was quite surprised to find a large manufacturer abdicating all responsibility for their information infrastructure, and referring their customers directly to a social media site. What was their plan?

Considering that the cheapest commercial costs tens of thousands of dollars to make, and then you have to buy airtime on tv, etc, I figured Armor All would want to make sure they directed viewers to an online property they own outright and have full responsibility for: their corporate web site. Sending traffic directly to Facebook was a bit audacious for a company that sells physical products via brick-and-mortar locations.

Fabceook Works … Usually

The only consistent thing about Facebook is its inconsistencies. Interface elements change and disappear on a monthly basis. New features appear and just as quickly disappear. Only to reappear again in slightly modified versions. Facebook is a constantly morphing, twisting, writhing set of tools that sometimes work, and more often than not, have major functional flaws.

And here someone at Armor All decided to create a TV ad (actually a series of them) that specifically drove customers to the Armor All Facebook page. This seemed quite risky to me, considering the cost of producing and airing the ads, and the vagaries of Facebook.

So I went to their Facebook page to check it out.

Where’s the There?

And there really isn’t much there on the Armor All page. A couple of coupons. Comments from some real people and comments from obviously fake accounts. A couple of photos… and … well… not much else.

So why is Armor All paying somewhere in the arena of $20k to send traffic to a Facebook page that does little-to-nothing to capitalize on that?

They have no big offers on their Facebook page.

There is no effort to catch the names, contact info, or even “Likes” of the visitors, so you could track them.

There is no way to determine where the ad – geographically speaking – had the greatest effect.

And most importantly, there is no call to action so Armor All could build a conversation with their visitors… or even contact them again!

It definitely is a puzzling media buy. Maybe they just tacked the Facebook link on to give a TV ad a little social media cred? Well, if that were the case and you weren’t convinced of the value of social media, wouldn’t you put the safety net of a phone number, the corporate web site, or an affiliated dealer network logo up there, too? There isn’t even the usual, “Armor All is available at O’Reilley Auto Parts locations everywhere.” bit of text.

A potentially powerful conversation goes *poof!*

Buying space for tv ads is a flawed but effective science. Companies know the demographics and geographical reach of any particular show, and advertisers buy access to those audiences. But there really is zero verification or validation of that data. Everyone knows the methodology for gathering the numbers is deeply flawed, but it is the best they have, so they go with it.

Armor All had a potentially powerful opportunity to validate the ad market they thought they were targeting. If they ran the ad on tv, drove traffic to their Facebook page, and then got those people to interact with something on that page, then they would have complete, end-to-end, verifiable data.

Additionally, they could then have used that initial contact to start a conversation with the new visitors to their page. Offer for them to “Post photos of your car before and after Armor All!”, or “Still the rainy season? Post a photo of the water beading on the hood of your car. The best photo will win a prize!”, or even offer to answer questions.

But that entire conversation – the call to action, the engagement with the customer – was not started, so all those visitors are lost.

Now why did they spend tens of thousands of dollars on ads, specifically targeted at their Facebook page, and do nothing with the traffic those ads generated?

That is just baffling to me…