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Advertising Is Content; Content Is Advertising

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

There's been a bunch of buzz this week over an Ad Age report suggesting that firms are finally realizing that no one pays attention to online banner ads. For all the hype about online advertising, this one point should have been obvious from quite early on. That doesn't mean that banner ads haven't been lucrative for some publishers who place them on their sites -- but it does call into question how long that sort of advertising will last. Sooner or later the advertisers will recognize that they're not getting much bang for the buck. For publishers (us included, mind you), that could mean that an easy vein for revenue goes away -- but the end result should be better. Companies will start to learn that there are better ways to achieve their goals than banner ads.

There are a few key points in the discussion that shouldn't be surprising to most folks around here, but apparently have just hit the consciousness of ad execs on Madison Avenue:
  1. The captive audience is dead. There is no captive audience online. Everyone surfing the web has billions of choices on what they can be viewing, and they don't want to be viewing intrusive and annoying ads. They'll either ignore them, block them or go elsewhere.
  2. Advertising is content. You can't think of ads as separate things any more. Without a captive audience, there's no such thing as "advertising" any more. It's just content. And it needs to be good/interesting/relevant content if you want to get anyone to pay attention to it.
  3. Content is advertising. Might sound like a repeat of the point above, and in some way it is -- but it's highlighting the flip side. Any content is advertising. It's advertising something. Techdirt content "advertises" our business even if you don't realize it. Every bit of content advertises something, whether on purpose or not.
  4. Content needs to be useful/engaging/interesting. This simply ties all of that together. If you want anyone to pay attention to your content (which is advertising something, whether on purpose or not) it needs to be compelling and engaging.
So, for the "brand" marketers out there who are starting to worry that banner ads aren't particularly effective, it's time to start rethinking how you build a brand along these points. Techdirt even has a way to help you put these ideas into practice. Give us a call -- we'll explain how it works in more detail. So, yes, even this is an "advertisement," but hopefully, it's also useful content.
Other posts in this series:

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  1. icon
    Steve R. (profile), 20 Mar 2008 @ 5:17am

    Marketing is a Drug Addiction

    Good analysis.

    My residual concern is that we do not live in a rationale world. When people become desensitized to advertising, the Pavlovian response of the marketing department is to advertise more, not to rethink how to re-capture the reader.

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