The necessary evil for companies doing business and being able to sell more products to more customers. It’s a never ending cycle isn’t it. From the earliest days of newspapers, radio and television the rules have been pretty simple. Your ad department typically hires on ad agencies full of people who can turn a phrase quicker and smoother than a gigolo cruising St Tropez at the height of bikini season. These agencies in turn charge obscene amounts of money so they can keep their copywriters loaded up with silver spoons of nasal goodness.
Out of all of this and millions of dollars later you have an advertising campaign to spread across the airwaves to radios and televisions along with making those glossy magazines grow in thickness of four colour goodness. All this for the endgame of people saying to themselves that they just have to have that product. After all that is the All American apple Pie and 9 1/2 Weeks whipped cream ideal of being successful. That is after all what the idea of all these ads are right – to show you how the previously unattainable can actually end up in your Oil of Olay hands.
This was the game of advertising and up until recently regardless of how some might have railed against it the scheme worked. Companies got richer, they sold more and more product that people may not have really needed and the ad agencies all got to drive their Beamers and kiss each other on the cheeks.
Then along came the Internet and Web 1.0. For the longest time companies and ad agencies figured it was just business as usual, except now instead of big splashy print ads or obnoxiously stupid visual ads we saw the proliferation of obnoxiously stupid and badly designed banner ads. They were every where – a the top of the page, the bottom of the page, in the middle of the page and a few of them you could even whack with your mouse cursor.
There was only one problem with the Internet – people had control. You see in the old pre-Internet days you couldn’t escape the ads. Sure you could always use the bathroom run as an excuse to not see them but in the end they still had you trapped. Now though the tables have turned – people do have control and they are letting companies know in droves that whacking some mole isn’t cutting it anymore.
Companies are still spending millions through all these different ad agencies or networks on the premise that nothing has changed. Which of course the ad networks have no intentions of letting their gravy trains know otherwise. The fact is though that advertising on the web has changed and any company that doesn’t understand this is either stupid or they’re still drinking the ad network’s kool-aid.
Advertising on the web has changed because the web itself has changed. Where once it was all about static pages that where no different than print or even television and radio it has now become interactive – a living breathing conversation. As much as ad networks might like to believe; and have their clients believe, that they understand this change and can still use it to their advantage the fact is they are becoming our modern day dinosaurs.
Companies are notoriously slow moving and often afraid of trying to do things that are new and different; which is why ad agencies and networks have survived as long as they have. It also helps that the top blogs don’t want the advertising status quo to change because as long as companies and ad networks maintain their age old fixation with numbers those top blogs keep making the big dollars and companies can continue with their delusions that they are reaching millions of people. Of course in the middle of this the ad networks continue to cart off Beamer’s full of money.
Except this isn’t necessarily the case as any average web surfer can tell you and ad networks will never admit to. People in growing numbers aren’t seeing those ads. Whether it be because of things like ad blocking software or just good old ad blindness companies aren’t getting their dollars worth that the ad networks say they are.
It doesn’t have to be this way though but it requires a major shift in company thinking. That change ties in though with one of the most incredible shifts in the Internet – social media and the fact it is all about having conversations. Unfortunately companies have once again been lead down the garden path by ad networks who promote their version of social media that is just the same old number games but with a new shade of lipstick.
If companies are serious about being a part of the new web and still be able to promote their products and services then it means they have to understand that the conversations going on are not the same ones that the ad networks would like them to believe are happening. It means that companies have to be willing to come out from behind the emerald curtains and talk with bloggers – all bloggers. It means they have to reach out to the communities they want be a part of because that is who will want their products and services. It means that the numbers have changed – it is no longer who has the highest number of readers because even those numbers can be highly suspect.
Chris Brogan had an excellent post the other day where he looked at this re-alignment of the value of numbers (sorry Chris but I am leeching your post in full but to do otherwise would do the idea a disservice)
The Superbowl is coming up on February 1st. I just read a whole bunch of articles where people are voting against spending the $3 Million USD to place an ad during the event. (My favorite story is this one. With the economy where it is, and with people worried about how they’re going to pay for everything, I offer you this alternative:
Advertise on a Blog
Sure, it won’t be viewed by millions (unless you pick the top blogs), but it will be clicked, clickable, linked, embedded in the Google hivemind forever, and countless other benefits over a 30 second spot.
And cheap. If you wanted to pay 1/1000th of the price of that superbowl spot, I’m sure plenty of people would love to take $3,000 for your ad. Not sure where to advertise? Swing by Alltop and figure out the right category for your spend. Go check out Compete.com for a glance at their site traffic, and maybe ping Technorati to determine the site’s authority.
So think about this: if you wanted to spend the same as a Superbowl ad, you could buy one THOUSAND ads at $3000 each and carpetbomb the blogosphere while sharing the wealth.
Just as the web has changed forever from the static landscape it once was so has the advertising landscape on the web. I can understand why many companies would shrink from the idea of having to handle this type of new advertising and try to leave it in the hands of ad networks but they are wrong. The fact is that many companies are already becoming involved with social media through things like Twitter and other services. Through those services they are coming in contact more and more with bloggers who are heavily involved with the very markets these companies need to reach.
If this is the case and the conversations have already begun then what is so hard to take it the one step further and support those bloggers by either sponsorships or straight advertising – no need for any middle man networks. I also think that companies that went this route would be surprised by the response from both the bloggers and more importantly their readers. Not to mention that they could probably end up saving themselves some money in the process.[pic courtesy of LOLcats]
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