The phenomenal rise of the internet as a medium of communication, information, and entertainment has given rise to some equally phenomenal conceptual flops about advertising.
Back in the day, online advertising was going to "change everything." It has changed nothing. Advertisers are still mostly doing on the web exactly what they did in traditional advertising -- bugging the shit out of us with the crumbiest, most annoying ads possible in all the places we are most likely to be bugged and annoyed. Oh yeah, and millions of pages of self-serving "content" that no one pays any attention to.
Here at The Ad Contrarian Global Worldwide Headquarters, over the past six years, we've been chronicling the fantasies and delusions about web advertising that pass for "thinking" in marketingland.
Today we take inventory of these dumb ideas. We have selected our 5 favorites and we present them to you in one neat little bundle, in no particular order, but numbered to keep you on track.
Here are The 5 Dumbest Ideas About Online Advertising
The hypothesis behind this daydream was that the same consumer who was frantically clicking a TV remote to escape from advertising was going to merrily click a mouse to interact with it. Marketers and agencies bought into this baloney big time. It didn't take long for it to become clear that no one wanted to interact with ads. The poor bastards trying to sell this stuff quickly changed the nomenclature from "interactive" advertising to "display" advertising. Fortunately for them, most of the flat tires who pass for "marketing experts" were too confused to realize what happened. The good news for the ad industry is that no matter how ineffectual banner advertising is, it just keeps growing and spinning off money. The rate of interaction with banner ads is below one click in a thousand. This is not interactivity. This is absence of interactivity.
2. The death of television
From Let's Just Declare TV Dead And Move On, TechCrunch, November 2006...
"..the writing is on the wall...at the end of the day, people want to consume content without the friction of having to sit down in front of a television at an appointed time....There is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior going on..."
In the 7 years since TechCrunch and the rest of the pundit digerati declared TV dead, viewing has been at its highest level ever in history. Other than that, they nailed it.
3. Permission marketing
The concept here was that the "interruption model" of advertising was no longer viable and was being made obsolete by the web. The mantra was that "the consumer is in charge" and in order to be successful you had to charm "the consumer" into giving you "permission" to market to her. This has proven to be thoroughly wrong. In fact, the aforementioned banner advertising -- the poster child of the interruption model -- is growing at alarming rates and is in danger of taking over the entire Internet unless Brad Pitt gets in there and stops it.
4. The conversation
This "big idea" posited that consumers want to have online conversations with marketers, and online engagement with brands. It turns out that even consumers aren't that stupid. This nonsense completely misinterpreted the relationship between consumers and the vast majority of the stuff they buy. It assumed every brand was Nike or Apple. The facts tell the story very clearly: the engagement rate for posts of the top 200 brands on Facebook is under 1/2 of 1%. Conversations? More like monologues.
If you believed the experts and pundits, TV and the web should have converged a long time ago. There have been a thousand different set-top boxes and gizmos that were supposed to effectuate this convergence. We were supposed to be watching all our favorite TV shows on YouTube and Hulu without the annoying interference of advertising. Convergence is nowhere near a reality. According to the latest data I can find from Nielsen, TV constitutes 98% of video viewing. Less than 2% of video is viewed on line, despite all the porn you're watching.Now that you've read this and are feeling particularly smug because you figured this stuff out yourself a long time ago while your boss was deluded by the fantasies of web magic, let me give you a little advice. Do not take this and show it to her and say "see, I told you." You will only succeed in getting your ass fired for being a "Luddite dinosaur." Because no matter how dumb these ideas are, I guarantee you, your digital maniac of a boss is dumber.