Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yet Another Advertising Obituary

Does a week go by without someone announcing that advertising is dead, and now we must shift all of our marketing efforts to social media (even though half the country isn't even using these media)? Not usually. I thought that this MarketingProfs piece was going to be another of these premature obituaries for advertising, but it turned out to be a new twist: advertising is dead, advertorials rule!

Generally, when I read anything like this:

Advertising is dead. If you're a marketer... save your money.

Consumers have been over-advertised to and over-sold.

Unless you're conducting a white sale, fire sale, or going-out-of-business sale—and halving or quartering your prices—advertising won't get you a bang, a whimper- or a nickel for your buck. Not anymore.

... I move on, because the writer has established that they don't know what they're talking about. Yes, traditional advertising has lost its dominance. Yes, the media landscape has changed. Yes, marketers need to adjust their spending.

In this case the writer goes on to tell us that we should do lots of advertorials, because - in a nutshell - consumers aren't smart enough to figure out what they are.

The advertorial delivers valuable, documented information that relentlessly leads readers to the inevitable conclusion that the solution to their problem or need is... whatever it is you're selling.

It doesn't look, taste, or smell like an ad, and the consumer's anti-ad third eye will never see it coming.

Well, at least it's a change of pace from someone telling us to spend our whole budget on Twitter or Facebook.

Here's the obituary I'd like to see: one announcing the death of "this is the perfect tactic!" pieces, as if any one tactic would ever be the solution to every marketing problem. Here's another: the death of marketing approaches that assume that consumers are too dumb to know when they're being sold.

I really like MarketingProfs but in the last couple of weeks I've read a piece from a multimedia producer explaining that video is the solution to all problems, and now a piece from a copywriter announcing that advertorials (which, hmm, require a copywriter) will solve everyone's problems. I hope this is not a trend.

It's fine to see people talking about the benefits of the type of work they do, but these pieces have read more like... well, advertorials... than useful content. A case study on how to use advertorials? Great. Examples of how video has enhanced sites? Cool. Pieces like this? Can we find a good burial plot for them, please?


Mark Cahill said...

Okay, so we know that things aren't working the way they are. Maybe the problem is that we've underestimated our customers for so long that they've learned not to listen. Sneaking our message around their filters isn't going to solve the problem if that message is again disingenuous, it'll just create anger and set us back further.

Great post - they truly don't get it.

Tonapi said...

Hi John

A nice post. Its indeed irritating to see marketers shout from the rooftops that their newly discovered tool is the salvation for all our problems.

However, I am sure you have also noticed that any creative marketer within an organisation set up has a great task of convincing his Management and the team that a new tool is worth exploring. And in this effort usually a hyped-up version of the new idea ends up being sold. So the exaggeration is quite understandable.

But this does not apply to the actual marketers of this tool ( like SEO guys etc) who should as you mentioned show how their tools complement other efforts of the organisation.

Minter said...

The answer is that there are no easy answers. And to suggest that any one idea/platform -- such as advertorials, or anything else for that matter -- is the "right way" is quite ingenuous. I'm sure there is a site to be had exhibiting worst marketing ideas!