An article this morning from our beloved Telegraph spoke how Adverts fail to engage majority of social networkers. But social media can, and should work even harder with a generation cynical and largely immune to traditional advertising. And the solution? Well it’s pretty seemples. It’s a cheap gag, but one which has become the biggest viral advertising buzz in recent memory. Unless you’ve been hiding out in an Afgan cave for the last few months, you’ve been doing well to avoid both the ads, and people quoting “seemples” and “Please be seat”.

What began as a brainstorm around the word comparethemarket, has turned over an 80% increase in traffic to since January alone when it launched. Now the now celebrity Aleksandr Orlov has a runaway 500,000 facebook fans, and a 23,16 strong twitter following, most of which have been converted straight to hits to the functional comparetheMARKET ‘sister’ site.

That’s quite some statistic  when you consider recent research of over 2,000 consumers which found that “just four per cent of those polled had ever clicked on an advert on a social network and only nine per cent found them useful tools in assisting their purchasing decisions on the web.” Add that to the fact that 83 of the top 100 ad spends in the US now use facebook as part of their media spend, and you begin to  wonder what the hell they’re all doing wrong given Alex’s success.

CTM though, ran their campaign to build for the end of exam season, knowing that a humerous, socially provocative campaign would be a big hit with students passing exams, car tests and heading off to uni over the Summer.

It just requires thought. Top brands are all to keen to plough cash into online advertising citing “we need to be on there”. Remeber back when the net became popular in the 90’s? Many simply created onlilne pamphlets, the smart knew we’d interect in a whole new way. It appears that lesson is being learned all over again.

In a recession hitting spend hard, using online and social advertising just because it’s cheap could fail your brand, and your career. Hat’s off to Steve Vranakis at VCCP and his team who created it, and especially to Amelia Torode, their Head of Digital Strategy, who had the wherewithall to rationalise it. Social media represents the biggest value marketing spend you could ever make. Get it wrong though, and you become  another shitty banner, sitting there flashing like a broken traffic light in the dark.

It makes me mad sometimes. Because great advertising is, really, quite seemples.