From the BBC News Technology section's Bill Thompson, via Daypop Top News Stories, yet another web expert steps dutifully forward to make the utterly non-contoversial -- and almost certainly completely wrong -- assertion [direct link] that advertising "does not work" on the web. He gets off to a bad start with a piece of pompous posturing that's almost certainly a lie:
But I never, ever, click on an advert. I never have, not since the first ones appeared on the nascent web back in 1996. I never will.
Um, yeah. Right. Not once. Gimme a break.
You would think that with all the profiling, data acquisition and expensive analysis done, the people behind the majority of online ads would have realised that I'm a lost cause and given up on sending these useless pieces of artwork down the wires to my PC. But no, they remain eternally optimistic.
They remain "eternally optimistic" because they have reason to: It works. The best studies I've run across indicate that web-based advertising is probably more cost-effective than print advertising.
But that's virtually immaterial; what really matters, and what Thompson doesn't seem to grasp, is that mass-marketing which relies on only one medium is usually doomed to fail. That's why that [sarcasm] wonderfully insightful [/sarcasm] term "spiral marketing" was coined, and that's the point of relationship marketing. But Thompson, like the naive, soon-to-be-commercially-marginalized assignees of the Cluetrain Manifesto, fails to grasp is that marketing is never, ever primarily about pleasing the customer. Rather, it's about selling the product, which is simply just not the same thing.
That's not a picky or academic point. Hardly any mass-marketing works by pleasing the customer; most of it works through some kind of fear (Barry Carter's right about that much). Fear of not being competitive with the neighbors; fear of having one's [manhood/womanhood] challenged; fear of one's children not succeeding; fear of public scorn or humiliation due to [bad breath/bad hair day/static cling/outdated car model/wrong clothes/....].
The naivete of New Economy stalwarts will probably never cease to amaze me. These characters who profess to accuse advertisers of not understanding the media don't even really seem to understand it on the terms in which they explain it.
Only the well-funded, often the new media operations of large companies with wide interests, or the tiny niche players will survive. There will be no room for the net's equivalent of small and medium sized businesses, the powerhouse of the real economy.
There will be a lot less variety or innovation. There will be less experimentation, and the risk of stagnation.
So where is the money going to come from? Perhaps the answer is not to try to make the web more like commercial TV, with intrusive and unavoidable commercials every 15 minutes, but to think more carefully about the ways we engage online.
So let me see if I understand this: We're complaining about the fact that only the big and strong will be left standing, and then we're saying that we could save the day with a more interactive, more focused approach to marketing?
Does this guy have a clue of how natural selection works? If they big guns survive, what would drive them to change? And why would they ever care about our satisfaction, if what they really want is our fear?
Yes, markets are conversations. But they have lots of participants talking on lots of levels. All this simplistic cluetrain nonsense accomplishes is to keep people from hearing the real conversations -- and from asking the right questions.