June 23, 2014

Online Advertising Takes A Beating

The bad news: Online advertising had one of its worst weeks ever last week.

At least four different news stories emerged casting a very negative light on the miracle of online advertising.

The first was triggered by a little internecine warfare between eBay and Google. Slate ran a piece called We Have No Idea If Online Ads Work. Here's a quote from the article:
"Last year, a group of economists working with eBay’s internal research lab issued a massive experimental study with a simple, startling conclusion: For a large, well-known brand, search ads are probably worthless.
This month, their findings were re-released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research and greeted with a round of coverage asking whether Internet advertising of any kind works at all."
By the way, AdContras knew about this study last year when we published a piece about it. Suddenly it's news.

Second was an article in The Atlantic called A Dangerous Question: Does Internet Advertising Work at All? Here's a little snippet:
"...research is getting closer to quantifying exactly how few people click on Internet ads and exactly how ineffective they are. It's not a pretty picture."
Wow. Big news. People don't click on banner ads. Whodathunkit?

Third was a totally laughable piece of crap in the Financial Times entitled Advertisers Have Lost The Attention Of A Generation. This unspeakable  "journalism" was based on the reporters contention that teens spend only 21 minutes a day watching television.

Unfortunately, the premise of the story fell apart when it was discovered that the "reporter" got his stats wrong by a mere 6,000%. In fact, teens spend 21 hours a week with television. In the true spirit of excellence in journalism, what did FT do? They just changed "minutes" to "hours" and let the headline stand despite the fact that it was now totally meaningless.

They did get one thing right, however:
"In theory, the smartphone is the new television – a consumer technology device through which everyone absorbs information and entertainment. As an advertising medium, however, it is useless by comparison. Not only is there no equivalent in value to the 30-second advertisement but the industry is struggling even to imagine one."
The final blow was self-inflicted.

Yahoo ceo Marissa Mayer was ridiculed for a presentation at the annual Cannes Advertising Festival of Wretched Excess. USA Today compassionately headlined it "Yahoo CEO Takes Heat For Stilted Presentation In Cannes." I guess "stilted" is a nice euphemism for "stupid."

Anyone who asserts that "Art is advertising and advertising is art " as Ms. Mayer did, could use a stilt right where it will do some good.

Okay, now the good news: Nobody gives a shit.

Marketing morons will continue to throw their money away chasing online rainbows and agencies will continue to cash in on the stupidity of these sheep.

And the beat goes on...


Sandvargen said...

You said. You said it. And you said it. Finally someone got it.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Online advertising is the poor, huddled mass in the shadow of the doorway. If any of it had an actual idea, delivered via interruption but not intrusion, to people who were actually interested in it... it *might* work.

But banner ads and online ads in general do not get the brain power. They get the "just repeat the ad headline" treatment. Ads do not interrupt. The either intrude or are invisible. The "banner ad" is a useless invention. It needs to go. No one sees them. No one clicks them on purpose. And the tech nuggets who target ads needs to go out and live a bit instead of just playing the numbers.

Yes, I searched for a stove last month. Having stove ads follow me around like paparazzi isn't going to sway me, especially if I already bought one. Bad creative + bad placement + bad targeting = bad ad. Banner or otherwise.

Keaton Hulme-Jones said...

There are industries and entire corporations built on the premise of online advertising. The very foundation of Google is built on the money from online advertising. There are some very powerful people who do not want anyone to know the truth. I'm seeing CTR's of 0.3% as average now.
In 2 years time it'll be on average 0.1%, but let's just call it 0.09% because 9 looks bigger.

Cynic said...

Bob have you seen this interview with John Hegarty, I think you'll like it.

Samuel Scott said...

Bob, I'd be curious for your take on performance-based advertising. It's when advertisers pay per real action (a product sale, a form submission, or some other real action) as opposed to paying per impression or click.

Ed said...

The attribution of performance based marketing is a sham. Post click and post view attribution etc. Post view especially...if you serve enough ads to enough people, you're naturally going to deliver impacts to people who would purchase anyway. The 'success' of online marketing is based around a medium taking the credit for everything else...just because you can tag a user by IP or cookie.