Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Traditional strategy bring traditional results

Last year at about this time I wrote about how advertisers and brands are working together to kill the online click-through ad industry. My point was that, as with all new media, brands who have always been concerned with impressions (i.e. yelling at consumers) have misused the power of the online ad space. My thought was that this was training consumers to lose trust in online ads, ultimately sabotaging the major benefit for advertisers - tracking. The argument from those looking to keep online ads as an attractive choice was that these ads would serve as a branding medium and reach people 'where they are' - the same model traditional advertising has delivered for seventy years, wrapped up in a digital package so that marketing budgets could go to this 'new interactive' stuff and make everyone look good.

A few weeks ago, Marketing Vox confirmed this trend. "The number of online Americans who click on display ads has dropped by 50% since 2007 - and now stands at only 16% of all US internet users..." (thank Mitch). It seems that our inability to resist the traditional way we've thought about communicating with consumers has once again burned a bridge with them.

We've seen the same thing starting to occur with Twitter, Facebook ads, Youtube ads and most Social Networks revenue models. This shift has decreased the value of these tools for advertising. I'm not saying they can't be properly used to advertise, nor am I saying that they are poor marketing channels. You can see the jump in Youtube channels and Facebook Business Fan Pages as proof that relevant and permission based marketing can be greatly beneficial for brands. I'm all for relevant, engaging, memorable and permission based content. I just need help understanding why brands continue to advertise the same way they always have (but have just changed media) and still expect different results?