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Advertising Is Dead, Long Live Advertising

My original plan was to title this post “Advertising is Dead.” But then I thought about how annoying all those “SEO is Dead” posts are, so I decided introduce a bit more nuance and forego the opportunity for link baiting.

But I digress.

I curious thing has happened to me over the past month or so. Do to a work-related relocation, I had to go a few weeks without access to television. I was thrilled at the prospect, because I knew that it would force to spend more time on one of my true loves. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this brief television hiatus would result in what appears to be a more or less permanent aversion to traditional TV.

What began as a curious nightly foray into YouTube has been a more or less steady habit of online video consumption. Interestingly, what I thought would be a limited source of entertainment turns out to be a nearly limitless fountain of both entertainment and education. I literally have hours worth of content waiting to be consumed in my “Watch Later” playlist.

And sure enough, as I started to spend more time on YouTube and share my experiences with “real life” friends and family, I discovered three things:

1) Several “real life” friends and a whole host of “online” friends have also ditched their traditional TV experience in favor of YouTube (or some variation thereof like Netflix).

2) Many loyal YouTubers choose to engage in a two-way interaction by both consuming loads of content and also creating loads of content (often in the form of a targeted response to other YouTubers that they interact with in one way or another).

3) By leveraging mobile, I could also completely disconnect from traditional AM talk radio while driving around in the car, opting to instead stream some or all of my favorite radio talk shows.

This led me to to the very plausible conclusion that most traditional forms of advertising are on the verge of extinction. Heck, print advertising is already half, if not three-quarters, dead. And since the video and audio consumption I described above is often nearly or completely ad free (at least in the traditional sense…I don’t mind getting served short pre-roll ads that I can opt out of at my discretion) it’s clear that traditional and radio and TV advertising could also be on their death beds without even knowing it.

Granted, I understand that I’m still in the minority. Furthermore, folks like my wife are still very much entrenched in their traditional TV (complete with 30-second ad spot) watching ways. But it would be foolish to simply ignore the “ad free” media consumption trend that I myself am now a part of.

So what does this mean for the savvy marketer? Simple. Make sure that your traditional advertising media is designed to have legs beyond the traditional channel that it’s being served on:

  • If you’re into TV commercials, make sure you have formats that are online, pre-roll friendly.
  • If radio is a big channel for your business, make sure you’re exploring ways to enter the consciousness of your consumers that have abandoned the airwaves for the stream.
  • If print ads are your ticket, where have you been for the past 5-10 years? Just kidding! Sort of. In all seriousness, though, it’s time to invest the dollars necessary to figure out what your target audience is doing when they’re not holding a magazine or a newspaper and it’s also time to invest major dollars in ways to target folks that are transitioning from print to tablet consumption

And perhaps most importantly, make sure that your advertising media is social media friendly. Not everybody can knock it out of the park the way Old Spice and Dos Equis have in recent years, but what you can do is make sure that your advertising media assets lend themselves to social sharing, and that your display media campaign strategy is tightly aligned with your search and social strategy.

Otherwise, your marketing program could find itself holding the short end of the stick when people like me go from being the minority to the majority.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://twitter.com/miguelsalcido Miguel Salcido

    Hey Hugo, you’ve got a great Johnny Cash voice! Thanks for sharing that and congrats on the move. The wife and I have discussed ditching the TV too. She initially hated it, and now is sucked in. The biggest debate is whether or not to remove the one in our bedroom. But to tell you the truth, the cable bill is huge and the service is crappy and frustrating. So I just might do it!

    • Anonymous

      Glad you dig the Johnny Cash sound, Miguel! You guys should totally cut the chord (trying to get my wife on the bandwagon but not quite there yet).

      Really digging the new gig. Hope all is well on your end as well.

  • http://www.tetrabyte.com/ Luke

    I’ve hated watching traditional TV for years, the whole process has seemed very mindless to me for the last 10 years or so, I only ever watch it if visiting someone who hasn’t grown out of the habit yet.

    I don’t even have any kind of TV reception device, apart from a BT vision box set, but that is a 100% on demand service and has no advertising what so ever.

    As I am about to have my first child, I am curious to see what effect this might have on my sons upbringing, not to be bombarded with mind numbing amounts of TV advertising at an early age.

    Will this make him less suggestible as his mind hasn’t been trained by advertising, or will he be more suggestible, not having built up any sort of immunity to it’s effects?

    I guess only time will tell.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for the insightful commentary, Luke! It’s much appreciated. I can tell you that my two-year old son seems mesmerized by TV commercials. It’s a bit unsettling because he’s sometimes more into them then he is into the TV show he’s watching.

      My advice is to not worry too much. Let him watch TV if need be. And if he doesn’t, that’s probably for the better (according to current research). I actually prefer to have him play with iPad apps. Early studies suggest their interactive nature might actually help with mental development.

      P.S. Congrats on the little one! And get in as much sleep as you can while you can ; )