April 11, 2013

The Biggest Advertising Opportunity Ever


How would you like to be the next Steve Jobs? The opportunity is sitting out there waiting to be taken.

All you have to do is find an effective advertising use for the web. It's that simple.

The web is an enormously powerful medium, but no one has figured out how to make it a great advertising medium. It's as if TV existed for 20 years and no one had invented the TV spot.

We have all kinds of lousy ways to use the web, but no reliably effective way.

An article in Digiday this week entitled Banner Ad’s Creators Dismayed By Its Current State laments the condition of display advertising. Display is the dominant form of web advertising. Despite a growth rate of 20% this year and almost $20 billion in sales, no one seems to be satisfied with banner advertising.
"Publishers in particular rue how commoditized it has become in a sea of 5.3 trillion annual impressions. Advertisers and agencies lament the lack of creativity typically given banners, which some see as on their way to becoming a purely direct-response tool,"
Worst of all is consumer reaction -- universal disregard. I have never once heard two people talk about a display ad. It is the one and only form of advertising that I can say this about.

But banners are only the most obvious failure.

The reason it's so clear that banners are a dud is that they are easily measurable. Every form of online advertising that can be easily measured has been exposed -- banners, podcasts, QR codes, blogs...

The only forms that are still retaining their cred are the ones that are not so easily measurable, like social media and content. This is not because they are any more effective, it's just that it's a lot more difficult to prove their ineffectuality.

This allows the online ad industry and web zealots to pretend that their ideological commitment to these modes has a basis in real world success. But this is a fantasy.

The web is almost 20 years old and the ad industry has still not figured it out. Maybe it will be like the telephone -- a universally used medium for which a brilliant advertising purpose will never be discovered.

Frankly, I doubt it. Someone is going to figure out how to use the web wonderfully. It might as well be you.


Follow-up:
If you read the comments below, you'll see what an idiot I am. Vinny Warren clears away the weeds. Someone has already figured out advertising on the web and made zillions -- Google. Doh.

9 comments:

Mike Fletcher said...

I doubt it Bob.

Dutch said...

A decidedly positive spin? Different, but I like it. Retirement has changed you Bob...

vinny warren said...

Didn't Google quietly figure this one out 13 years ago while all us ad folks were furrowing our brows over "the future"?

bob hoffman said...

Bingo! You're right.

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vinny warren said...

Do i get a prize?

michael mann said...

didn't google just figure out how to make oodles of billions of the putzes who were trying to figure out how to make money off internet advertising?

Graham Strong said...

Hey Bob,

Here's an example of one company who may have gotten it right to a certain extent.

The other day I watched the first episode of Mad Men, and it had commercials. Millions of other people watched that episode too, sure. The difference was that I was watching it on the AMC website, not on TV like most of the others did.

And here's the thing -- it wasn't a commercial you had to watch up front before you got to the content, like on YouTube, which really pisses me off. They were commercials inside the content, placed like you would see them normally if you were watching TV.

And here's the thing about the thing -- they didn't piss me off so much. You could even skip ahead if you wanted, bypass the commercials -- they didn't hijack your screen and force you to watch. Funny thing was, you ended up skipping around for a minute or so, trying to find where the episode started again. Basically, it was just easier to leave the commercials running and go off to another window like you might go off to the fridge, hearing it in the background.

You could argue that this is just TV advertising in a TV program that just happened to be running on the web. You'd be right. But it worked, at least in my case. Interruption advertising on the web that doesn't totally tick you off. That's got to mean something.

~Graham

Aydin Andrew said...

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