Traditional advertising is broken because it charges us time, when time is becoming our most valuable resource.Traditional advertising works well in time-rich, money-poor economies. It works less well in today's money-rich, time-poor economy. There was a time when we were prepared to watch something that might be vaguely interesting.
We watched the car ad even though we didn't need a car. We watched the chocolate ad even though we had given up chocolate. We watched the ad about diapers even though our children were now teenagers. We even occasionally bought the idea that buying product X made us into better, smarter, sexier people. Sometimes ads were funny. Sometimes they were more entertaining than the programs we were watching.
Then the Web came along. The Web is the biggest, baddest remote control ever invented. The Web puts our hands on the steering wheel. Our feet are on the pedals. We can accelerate, reverse and stop. We can do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it. And we like it. In fact, we absolutely love it.
Sixty-two percent of marketers believe traditional television advertising has become less effective in the past two years, according to a February 2008 study published by the Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they intended to spend more ad dollars on the Internet in 2008.
"Frank Harper is well aware that all those free video clips on the Internet come at a price: advertising," Anick Jesdanun writes in Newsfactor.com. "But that doesn't mean he sits idly as short video ads precede many of the dozen or so clips he watches each day at sites like Microsoft Corp.'s MSN.
"For the most part, I just mute the volume" said Harper, 55, who runs a security consulting firm in Sterling, Va. "Or I just look at something else, look at another headline ... or go to another site while the thing is playing."
According to Jesdanun, "Marketers and Web sites alike are struggling to bring to the Internet ads that resemble television without turning off viewers the way TV ads often do." Good luck to them. Bringing TV ads to the Internet is like the Pony Express trying to breed faster horses in order to compete with the telegraph.
Don't they get it? Don't they understand that a great and growing number of us hate traditional advertising? That we find it at best annoying and irrelevant, and at worst insulting and manipulative? By 2010, traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective as it was in 1990, according to a study from McKinsey & Co.
Google, Yahoo, and many other websites survive very well on advertising, but it is a very different form of advertising. When I'm searching to rent a recreation vehicle (RV) in the United States, and I see a list of RV companies in the right hand column of my search results, I don't see that as advertising. I see it as helpful, useful.
Google has become one of the most successful companies in the world by selling lots and lots of these 17 words of text that help us find what we are searching for. In a money-rich, time-poor economy, helping busy people complete their tasks is the new advertising.
About the Author
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.