Friday, November 13, 2009

What if internet advertising is a foundation made of sand?

I spotted a pithy, insightful notion early on while reading Ethan Zuckerman's post What if they stop clicking? , paused and sent it out as a Tweet right then. Moments later, I came across a second and Tweeted it, too.

When I Tweeted a third too-good-to-pass-up nugget, I realized I should just encourage people to read the whole post. It's a cohesive, carefully sequenced contemplation and will mean more if you do.

In short, he's gathering bits of string that seem to be adding up to a big idea: What if online advertising stops working? What if the only thing that really makes money turns out to be search ads, not banners on news sites or display ads on Facebook?

Ethan doesn't claim to have any final answers, but his logic and supporting data should make you worry if ad-supported anything is a big part of your online future.

This roller coaster is a long way from finished yet.

The three insights I couldn't help Tweeting:

Ads may not be a viable [for] anything but search...we are increasingly reliant on systems [on] shakiest of foundations
"comScore’s study suggests we – collectively – may be becoming more [online] banner-blind over time."
What if social being built on sand, on ads almost no one looks at now & fewer will look at in two years?


  1. Not to take anything away from the great points made here (which are by extension Ethan Zuckerman's points) but I often find myself wondering these types of things not for the online mass media but our more traditional counterparts.

    What if newspaper advertising is built on sand? Sure, it's taken 50 years to give way, but give way is has. Will it ever firm back up? What happens in 10 to 20 years (or is it 3 to 5 years?) when the bulk of reader/viewers/audience/whatever view the printed newspaper as an anachronism? How can advertising be effective then?

  2. So much of online advertising is built on the print model of carving up real estate. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. It's not, of course, an either-or proposition, rather a nuanced continuum in which the creative process plays a big process.

    And while it's interesting to ponder whether "advertising works", the more pertinent question is how will I, as a business owner, achieve my objective to sell my product or service.

    These days, "search" is a huge part of my budget. The online ads? A much smaller portion. We do not advertise in the newspaper, partly because the paper regarded my product as competition (!!!!).

    Does it work? HAHA. I guess about half of my advertising works. I just wish I knew which half. I am not making this up.