On May 20th, on the subject of "native advertising," I wrote...
"Nobody seems quite sure what they mean by native advertising. But I think I know what they mean. They don't know it yet, but they mean using traditional advertising strategy on the web."For years, while the cultural impact of the web has grown enormously, I've been skeptical of its alleged brilliance as an advertising medium. Other than search, and to some degree email, it has been my belief that web advertising has been performing way below expectations.
There is a simple touchstone I apply: what mainstream, non-web-native brands have been built by online advertising? The answer is... I can't think of any. Consequently, I think of the web as a tactical medium and not a strategic one. It's where you go for sales promotion, but not brand building.
In recent months I'm starting to see some hope for the web as a serious ad medium.
First, after a thousand starts and stops, Facebook has developed some worthwhile advertising properties. In the past I've made the following comments about Facebook:
- "Facebook still hasn't figured out how to sell its 900 million subscribers to advertisers. If they do, it will become a huge advertising hit. But until they do, I remain skeptical."
- "They're sitting on a gold mine, but they're throwing away the gold and selling the dirt."
- "The platform doesn't matter. Mobile or immobile, advertising that is invisible is worthless. Period. Exclamation point."
- "They need to offer big-time advertisers something of real value, not the crap they are currently selling."
"... the best hope for online advertising is not pie-in-the-sky nonsense about conversations and relationships... It is taking the traditional principles of interrupting and grabbing attention, and applying them to the web."Their recent financials, as reported last week, indicate that at least for the short term, Facebook is showing much better results. Now their task is to find the right balance between advertising and content or they will start to see erosion of their audience.
Another hopeful sign for online advertising is something that Google announced last week. Chromecast is apparently a thumb drive that you insert into a USB port on your device and it broadcasts anything from your computer to your television. At least in theory, this sounds simple and workable. We'll have to try it and see. If it works as advertised, it may actually presage the imagined "convergence" of the web and TV that the world has been promised for 15 years.
As we brilliantly said here back in 2008...
"I'm starting to get the feeling that the web's killer app is television."We'll see.