Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 3, 2010 2:33 PM

Online Advertising Sucks

How often do you hear about a traditional mass media company shifting to a "digital first" strategy? Those companies may want to take a look at this...

As mass media advertising continues to fragment and shift, the bigger concern is that they are also loosing eyeballs (as if people are nothing but eyeballs) to the online world. This has caused many of those traditional mass media companies to change their advertising game. Almost all traditional media outlets now have websites or have gone on to acquire major (and minor) online properties. On these websites, they sell advertising (it's the business game they are most accustomed to). While the revenues from online advertising have never really supplanted the traditional ones (you'll often hear sayings like, "trading analog dollars for digital dimes"), there is a common-held belief that the shift to online - and away from the more traditional channels - is inevitable. Personally, I'm more in the "everything is 'with' not 'instead of'" camp, but I'm often wrong as well.

Here's what you need to know if you think the future of media is based on online advertising...

"Americans Ignore Internet Ads Far More Than TV." That was title of the news item published in today's MediaDailyNews. Here's the scoop according to the news item: "A majority of Americans say they ignore Internet ads - far more than television, radio and newspaper ads. Some 63% of consumers say they tend to ignore or disregard all Internet ads. Among this group, 43% say they don't pay attention to banner ads and 20% ignore search ads. The research was produced by AdweekMedia/Harris Poll, from a recent online survey done by Harris Interactive. Farther down the list was television ads - only a 14% number. Radio was at 7%; newspapers ads, 6%. Overall, almost all Americans say they ignore some ads - 91%. Looking at the Internet space, men and women ignore ads around the same levels - 42% for men; 45% for women."

It's hard to sell any kind of advertising that is being ignored.

For years, I have been pushing the concept of CTRL-ALT-DEL - it's time for us to reboot, rethink and reinvent how marketing connects to consumers online. The traditional ways of advertising will not work in these online channels. While that's nothing more than a concept statement, I believe that making money online has less to do with leveraging it as an advertising channel, and much more to do with figuring out new ways to publish content that creates value along with newer ways to bring back a spirit of marketing (where advertising plays a less significant role). The minute any company sees a community or audience of people their default monetization strategy leans back on putting an ad in front of those people. The bigger, deeper thought may be around taking the time to figure out how to leverage that audience with relevant and wanted marketing content and messages.

It's not easy, but what choice do we have? 

If anybody actually reads the news item above, it could well be the cold splash of water that this industry so desperately needs to wake up. This continual onslaught of multiple messages in every single white space only is clearly not working (it's just more clutter and confusion). It's going to be a long, hard road to convince the bigger brands that online advertising is the place to be when they see stats and surveys like this.

The opportunity to turn this around is now. The question is this: where do we begin?

By Mitch Joel