January 08, 2014

Cloning Television In 2014

Here at The Ad Contrarian World Headquarters we've been grumbling for years about how the theory behind much of online advertising is a delusion.

The theory goes something like this:
Consumers are no longer strongly influenced by the interruption model of advertising (TV, radio, print, billboards, etc.) In order to be effective, marketers must gain consumers' permission (the permission model) to interact with them. If marketers cuddle up to consumers this way, consumers will share their enthusiasm for the brand with others through the miracle of social media and great success will ensue.
This fairy tale still carries large weight in the marketing world. Regardless of the almost universal disappointment marketers have experienced with their own social media and "content" programs, they still somehow believe that everyone else is successful doing it.

But it's starting to fade.

Last year, Facebook pretty much abandoned the fantasy and got into the interruption model big time. Great big traditional ads started appearing in our streams. Facebook still has pretensions of social media, but it's pretty clear what it really is --  a social media channel with traditional advertising plastered all over it. If what I've read is true, Facebook is getting about 90% of its revenue from selling ad space, just like those nasty old TV networks.

The idea that Facebook is useful because consumers are having "conversations about brands" is as dead as QR codes. Okay, nothing is as dead as QR codes...

Now that Twitter is a public company and has to actually make money, we can expect the same from them.

In fact, all of "social media" is quietly in the process of morphing into just another channel for carrying traditional advertising. The delusion of "permission marketing" and "the conversation" and the "sharing of content" as the foundation for web advertising still gets lip service, but is being undermined by social media companies who are interrupting the shit out of us with ads.

Web ad strategy is turning out to be no different from the things it was supposed to supplant. All the wooly nonsense about sharing and conversations is beginning to sound gratuitous.

As usual, marketers and ad agencies are a couple of beats behind the band.

Although I am loathe to make predictions (I'd rather make fun of fools than be exposed as one) I am expecting online advertising to look even more like television advertising this year. The interruption model will continue its ascension and video spots will be the "new" rage.

Plus ça change...


Cecil B. DeMille said...

I still believe in consumers. Although it sounds counterintuitive, people expect to be interrupted while watching television. That's how television has ALWAYS been. I think it's 50/50 that the Facebook ads are going to piss people off enough that they bail for another social network - whatever that is. Ergo, in the next, say, five years, I expect Facebook's active user base to shrink by half.

The amount of backpedaling being done by Facebook and its ilk is nothing short of breathtaking, however expected. The hard truth of it all is this: if you're going to be a medium and you're not going to charge for access, ads are pretty much the only way to make money. And they ALL want to make money.

millerg said...

If it's for a brand then it better be with an idea that captures your interest or imagination. No matter where it's placed. Let's hear it for that dinosaur, the idea.

Mark said...

Ads appearing in my Facebook news feed are what finally got me to install AdBlock on my browsers.

Mohammad A said...

Bob es muy inteligente. Su cabeza es como una sandía de las ideas. Me gustaría poder comer. Estoy seguro de que usted no tiene semillas, lo que es bueno, porque no me gustan las semillas.

TCWriter said...

Content marketing actually does work, but not for the reasons spouted by our New Media Overlords. It's essentially a highly effective SEO strategy (in other words, it Google loves it). In terms of actual ROI (in other words, does it actually make money for you), search-based marketing is running neck and neck with email marketing -- another "dead and buried" non-social channel.

I'll give the True Believers this much; "Interruption" marketing hasn't very effective... online. No wonder they're looking for excuses.

Michael said...

Ever watched a Youtube video? All they do now is interruption advertising. Almost every damned video I watch. Either a 15 second pre-roll, or a longer one with a 'skip' option after 5 seconds. In addition to those little annoying 'link' boxes that come up at the bottom, or the corners, of videos.

Jay Whitney said...

You're right in that similarities are appearing more and more often, and that this "interruption model" is more familiar and thus we're typically better at executing it.

That being said Adblock and similar products really are game changers, and now extra light-weight browser extensions to boot. It's the equivalent of pushing a button on your TV remote to make it black-out and mute during any adverts. More-so actually, because it actually allows you to skip the ads rather than let them play out silently.

There's not an awful lot we can do about it, but it's something to be cautious about. Digital and traditional platforms may end up having a lot in common, but they'll never be the same.

Rugby and football are both played with a ball on a field by men in shorts and studded boots, but they're very different games.

Bob said...

Ironic that you've got a Ziploc content marketing link at the bottom of this post!