The advertising and marketing industries had a dream. The dream was that interactive media would revolutionize advertising and make it far more relevant and effective.
There's only one problem. Consumers have shown no interest whatsoever in interacting with advertising. None.
Click through rates on display ads continue to drop and are now below one in a thousand. Every attempt at interactive TV has been a dismal failure. YouTube has thousands and thousands of TV spots and ostensibly "viral" videos. The overwhelmingly majority of which have never been viewed by anyone but the director's mother.
What marketers still refuse to comprehend is that, at best, advertising is a minor annoyance. It is pretty clear that most consumers are willing to go to substantial lengths to avoid it.
Which makes the ability to interact with a medium the enemy of advertising.
This is nothing new. Radio advertising became less effective with the invention of the push-button car radio. As soon as a crappy ad came on we interacted with the button. It is also why TV advertising became less effective with the invention of the remote. TV spots were a lot more effective when you had to drag your ass off the sofa to change the channel.
People who can easily interact with a medium to avoid ads generally will. But there are a few exceptions to this. Happily there are some very talented people in advertising who can create ads that are so interesting, beautiful, or funny that people will not try to avoid them. Unhappily, there are very few of these.
The other exception occurs when people are shopping. Someone looking for something is willing to interact. Just like she once would interact with the yellow pages, she will now interact with Google.
These exceptions notwithstanding, easy interaction with a medium is not the advertiser's friend.
But there is apparently no end to marketers' ability to delude themselves, and also no end to ad hustlers' willingness to feed these delusions. The latest delusion is "content."
The same crowd that sold us interactive advertising as a marketing miracle is now selling us "content" as the new magic elixir. You see, if we engage the consumer with compelling online content...
Well, guess what? Consumers are at least as eager to avoid our "content" as they are our ads. Most "content," like most advertising, is dumb and self-serving and offers nothing of interest or value to consumers.
Which is just another way of saying that the only way to get most consumers to pay attention to advertising messages is to force them to -- the much-ridiculed "interruption model."
The lovely fantasy of advertising interactivity has been undermined by an unfortunate fact of nature -- no one in his right mind volunteers for advertising.
To put it succinctly, consumers are far more likely to utilize interactivity to avoid advertising than to engage with it.