You’re living an illusion if you don’t agree advertising is dying.
“Advertising is on its deathbed,”wrote digital marketer Bryan Eisenberg three years ago in ClickZ, citing four reasons for the shift from chirping to croaking:
Media fragmentation. TiVo, iPods, hundreds of cable channels, satellite TV and radio, podcasting, Web sites, consumer-generated media, even video games cut people’s time and attention into thousands of teeny fragments. Advertisers have a harder time reaching large population segments. They spend more to reach fewer people. They used to reach the masses with buys on three TV networks; now, they must buy on 92 stations to approximate the same reach.
Communication acceleration/information availability. Word-of-mouth advertising and “badvertising” move faster than ever. Bad news about your business or a failure to live up to advertising claims cancel out any image-control advertising. Even great advertising can’t serve as a smokescreen for poor selection, an inferior product, and dismal customer service. Slick catalogs and marketing claims can’t detract from Dell’s CRM failings or help customer lifetime value, for example. You can fool a lot of people once, but it’s much harder to do it twice.
Overemphasized demographics. Demographic targeting has long been the focus of marketing efforts. Problem is, it only tells you where customers might be, not what messages they might respond to.
Creative, rather than persuasive, ad firms. Read a recent roundtable discussion in “Fast Company.” It’s revealing only one exec brought up the term “accountability.” No one mentioned “results.” Clearly, many ad firms still don’t get it. If they don’t consider accountability and results, they relegate themselves to an offline equivalent of spam.
We since know that Dell has revamped, hired a geek squad, and is actively listening to their customers online. Most brands aren’t, and ad agencies aren’t much better.
And newspapers? As Seth Godin writes on his blog today about the New York Times struggling:
The Times has profited longer than most newspapers because of New York. New York is an efficient place to be a newspaper. Lots of people, lots of advertisers, lots of spending, influence all over the world. But even that isn’t enough to support the failing economics of dead trees and delivery. The only reason a paper exists (from a business point of view) is to sell ads.
It’s not much better with Times child publication, the Boston Globe, which recently decided to slash 24 pages each week.
Public relation and marketing campaigns are far from death, but advertising is quickly losing steam — and online advertising is not much better, as few educated people click on sponsored ads while click-through rates on banners are dwindling.
What do you think? Will newspapers follow traditional ad agencies who refuse to adopt new media processes? Or will print stick around another decade?