June 04, 2015

We Have Fallen In Love With Ourselves

There are two reasons the advertising industry is besotted with the web

The corporate fat boys love it because it came along at exactly the right time to provide an exciting new thing to sell, just as the agency business was losing its mojo.

The rank and file love it because it is quickly becoming the most advertising and marketing-controlled medium in history.

We -- the marketing industry -- are running the web. It is the first major medium that is completely under the thumb of advertisers and marketers.

We used to have some control over TV and radio. Our advertising choices about what to support with our clients' ad dollars influenced what programmers programmed. But we never had hands-on control of the actual content.

In radio and print media the same was true. We influenced the content with our buying, but we didn't control or create the content.

Radio, tv, or print was always a medium first, and then a marketing vehicle. The web is not. The web is quickly evolving into a marketing vehicle first, and, oh yeah, it's also a communication medium.

It is impossible to do anything on the web without being assaulted by marketing or advertising.

It was possible to watch 12 minutes of uninterrupted sitcom before a spot came on. You could sometimes listen to 5 songs in a row before you heard a radio spot. But not with the web.

You can't go 30 seconds on the web without being interrupted.

I have commented previously on how the web has similarities to a super-charged Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages was a marketing gimmick masquerading as a medium. The web is becoming very much the same thing.

On the web, every move you make, every step you take, everything you watch or read is interrupted by advertising or marketing. We ad geeks love the web because we don’t just create the ads, we create the ocean they swim in. We've never before had this kind of power for our meager talents.

The web didn't start this way. But it is evolving into a non-stop, always-on marketing circus. It’s what makes it nauseating, and -- to us in the industry -- irresistible.


Cecil B. DeMille said...

So, it's going the way of Direct Mail, then?

Dan Plant said...

That's why they invented ad blockers. just use one already and you don't have to suffer any of that stuff.

Doug Garnett said...

Bob Garfield once wrote this article claiming that the web would "fix" advertising. And the blog post I wrote in response noted that maybe he hadn't ever thought about what confronted him on the web. It's amazing how much really bad, noisy, offensive advertising is justified with the idea that "it's new media therefore it's okay". And not just on the web. The noise on airplanes, in airports, in the taxi cab, on a city bus is just getting out of freakin' control.

And still, eager VC backed media ventures tell us "TV advertising is really bad because it interrupts". Well...I'll take TV's benign interruption over new media offensive chaos any day.

Ed Op said...

Don't agree at all. Online advertising is easy to ignore, circumvent, bypass. Doesn't exist for me. Big Data on the other hand, now that's changing the game. Tracking of internet search terms, sites visited, connections online – that's all invasive and new. Online advertising? Whatever. It's far less intrusive than TV advertising. I suppose the existence of marketing-purposed content is new, but again, easily avoided: it's all opt-in.

What I do find annoying about online marketing is the belief among many of the practitioners that they've just invented the wheel. As though nobody was communicating with the purpose of selling prior to 1997.

Neil Charles said...

As others have noted, you can effectively opt out of advertising on the web, via ad-blocking. Opting out of being tracked is more difficult, but not impossible.

Personally, I block all ads and as many trackers as possible (Google still knows what I'm doing when I'm logged in etc.) but take the view that I can sometimes be profiled, but that profiling is worthless, because it can't be used to deliver an ad.

There's a really interesting clash building between advertisers and blockers. Adblock Plus operates something that feels uncomfortably close to a protection racket, where advertisers can pay to have their ads 'verified as consumer friendly' and are then white-listed. Other blockers blacklist everything. German courts have just rejected (again) a challenge that blocking should be illegal and adblock adoption numbers are growing fast.

I hope blocking continues to grow, because it might lead publishers on the web to start thinking more seriously about new revenue models. Ad funding leads to page view chasing, which leads to click bait headlines. It doesn't matter if the article you click through to is any good, just as long as you click and the adverts get loaded.

Cedric Miller said...

Google take it an notch, they want to control peoples brain for ads and stuff like that.

TrailOfTears said...

What are these web "ads" you speak of? I don't ever see web ads :).

LeShann said...

Have you actually watched TV/opened a magazine lately? The advertising clutter is absolutely through the roof. Some mags have more ads than content, and it's virtually impossible to watch TV without a good quarter of the program's time being interrupted by advertising (at least in the US). It is so bad, I resented watching TV when I was in California...