We Need The Right Advertising

furs bought here Reading this brief post by Jeff Jarvis, a man I respect and appreciate in many ways, I have to think about his premise. “Advertising is failure,” he says to Steve Rubel for an AdAge piece. I’m quoting a quote of a quote here:

In an age when competition and pricing are opened up online and when your product is your ad, you need to spend your first dollar on the quality of your product or service. If you’re Zappos, you spend the next dollar on customer service and call that marketing. If the next dollar goes to advertising, there has to be a reason — and if the product is good enough, that reason may fade away. . . .

He’s not wrong, and yet, some degree of advertising will always be necessary, because it’s product news. We need advertising to know of things like feature changes, new opportunities, and shifts in the status quo.

How much impact does most advertising carry? Less and less, I imagine we’ll all answer, and why? I say it’s because of this: most advertising fell off its original premise: to inform.

Here’s where I betray my allegiance to the premises laid out by people like David Ogilvy (that link will be the 3rd book about or by him that I’ve read in as many months). I think the reason we say advertising no longer works is that we stopped receiving useful advertisements. Entertainment overtook function.

I think Jeff Jarvis is right, insofar as where he chose to go with his premise. In his thought-provoking book, What Would Google Do?, Jeff talks a lot about what comes next in a world where ads have stopped working. The book is essential, I’d offer.

Thing is, I think advertising is far from dead. Further, I think there’s the potential for a renaissance of quality advertising. I think the tools are here. I think the opportunities are powerful. All that’s required next are the minds and the passions to deliver the new (and by new, I might mean very old) advertising to people who seek to be informed instead of entertained.

What say you?

Photo credit marxchivist

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  • http://www.lisahickey.com Lisa Hickey

    I am a former advertising copywriter, and I will tell you: it’s HARD. We used to spend weeks, sometimes months, trying to the perfect message for an ad or commercial. The goal was *always* to make it “relevant, genuine and engaging” (thanks Jason) as well as standing for the “bigger brand story” (thank you, Cheryl). And sometimes, yes, our goal was to make people laugh.

    From this post and comments, these things I am now thinking about:

    1) Advertising is just “paid messaging”, correct? So there will always be some companies who will need pay to get their message out there to lots of people. Sometimes it is, quite frankly, the quickest, easiest, most efficient solution. I can’t see that going away.

    2) Re: “entertainment overtaking function”. Not everyone is sitting there waiting for a product message. The need for a brand to engage with folks on some level is very real. So sometimes we use humor to do that. Done well, humor is a universal connector. It also makes it possible for a message going to a non-targeted audience to not be seen as annoying by those it wasn’t meant to reach.

    3.) In my years of advertising, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t worry about the moral issue of trying to convince someone to buy a product they just didn’t want. Yuck. Wouldn’t that be a nice guiding point of view for brands and advertisers?

    4.) Old model: One ad or commercial message at a time. New model: thousands and thousands of commercial messages. (My POV: all messages by a business are “commercial” messages. At the end of the day, the point is always to incite a sale *somewhere* down the line).

    Thanks once again, for getting me to think about these issues.

  • http://www.lisahickey.com Lisa Hickey

    I am a former advertising copywriter, and I will tell you: it’s HARD. We used to spend weeks, sometimes months, trying to the perfect message for an ad or commercial. The goal was *always* to make it “relevant, genuine and engaging” (thanks Jason) as well as standing for the “bigger brand story” (thank you, Cheryl). And sometimes, yes, our goal was to make people laugh.

    From this post and comments, these things I am now thinking about:

    1) Advertising is just “paid messaging”, correct? So there will always be some companies who will need pay to get their message out there to lots of people. Sometimes it is, quite frankly, the quickest, easiest, most efficient solution. I can’t see that going away.

    2) Re: “entertainment overtaking function”. Not everyone is sitting there waiting for a product message. The need for a brand to engage with folks on some level is very real. So sometimes we use humor to do that. Done well, humor is a universal connector. It also makes it possible for a message going to a non-targeted audience to not be seen as annoying by those it wasn’t meant to reach.

    3.) In my years of advertising, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t worry about the moral issue of trying to convince someone to buy a product they just didn’t want. Yuck. Wouldn’t that be a nice guiding point of view for brands and advertisers?

    4.) Old model: One ad or commercial message at a time. New model: thousands and thousands of commercial messages. (My POV: all messages by a business are “commercial” messages. At the end of the day, the point is always to incite a sale *somewhere* down the line).

    Thanks once again, for getting me to think about these issues.

  • http://helenanm.wordpress.com Helena Makhotlova

    I can see Jeff Jarvis’ point when he says that advertising is failure. After all, advertising did fail in many ways to adjust to the user-controlled environment of web 2.0. But it’s not to say that advertising on the internet is dead. In fact, all of us should be concerned with the future of online advertising, and put some thought into how it can prevail. After all, it’s often a driving (and vital) force for new projects to come to life and be developed into something great.

    But the old model, based on impressions and degree of exposure, probably needs to be replaced. On the web, it’s not amount of views or clicks which should matter, but the understanding why people click on ads. The danger is that funny ads probably bring in lots of cash for Google, but just rips off the client instead.

    I think rather than focusing on entertainment, information or engagement with publics (leave this to other marketing disciplines), advertising should focus on relevance, context, timing and easiness to get right down to action.

  • http://helenanm.wordpress.com Helena Makhotlova

    I can see Jeff Jarvis’ point when he says that advertising is failure. After all, advertising did fail in many ways to adjust to the user-controlled environment of web 2.0. But it’s not to say that advertising on the internet is dead. In fact, all of us should be concerned with the future of online advertising, and put some thought into how it can prevail. After all, it’s often a driving (and vital) force for new projects to come to life and be developed into something great.

    But the old model, based on impressions and degree of exposure, probably needs to be replaced. On the web, it’s not amount of views or clicks which should matter, but the understanding why people click on ads. The danger is that funny ads probably bring in lots of cash for Google, but just rips off the client instead.

    I think rather than focusing on entertainment, information or engagement with publics (leave this to other marketing disciplines), advertising should focus on relevance, context, timing and easiness to get right down to action.

  • John Heim

    I disagree with the premise that the failure of advertising is in advertisings shift from information to entertainment. The old adage “sex sells” also can be applied to entertainment – “entertainment sells”. Culturally, we crave entertainment and the power of entertainment can be seen throughout the history of great advertising. It’s not entertainment that’s the problem, it’s untruths, exaggerated claims, mistreated customers, etc. that have made most advertising ineffective.

    Josh Willits (comment above) brought our attention to a post on Seth’s blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/04/poisoning-the-well.html. In that post, Seth makes it very clear what our problem is….and it’s not entertainment.

    This year Hulu.com delivered a very entertaining Super Bowl ad. It was both entertaining and informative and it kept the information message simple. What it didn’t do was sell something hulu.com couldn’t deliver (it didn’t make claims that would leave the customer disappointed). They focused on the simple idea that you could watch TV from anywhere, anytime with an internet connection. Funny thing, HULU grew 33% in February while their competitors shrank.

    No, the problem is not about entertainment vs. Info. Entertainment is good as long as the content is authentic and doesn’t promise something the brand can’t deliver.

  • John Heim

    I disagree with the premise that the failure of advertising is in advertisings shift from information to entertainment. The old adage “sex sells” also can be applied to entertainment – “entertainment sells”. Culturally, we crave entertainment and the power of entertainment can be seen throughout the history of great advertising. It’s not entertainment that’s the problem, it’s untruths, exaggerated claims, mistreated customers, etc. that have made most advertising ineffective.

    Josh Willits (comment above) brought our attention to a post on Seth’s blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/04/poisoning-the-well.html. In that post, Seth makes it very clear what our problem is….and it’s not entertainment.

    This year Hulu.com delivered a very entertaining Super Bowl ad. It was both entertaining and informative and it kept the information message simple. What it didn’t do was sell something hulu.com couldn’t deliver (it didn’t make claims that would leave the customer disappointed). They focused on the simple idea that you could watch TV from anywhere, anytime with an internet connection. Funny thing, HULU grew 33% in February while their competitors shrank.

    No, the problem is not about entertainment vs. Info. Entertainment is good as long as the content is authentic and doesn’t promise something the brand can’t deliver.

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  • http://www.AMarketersView.com Daniel Faintuch

    In my opinion, advertising still remains a very powerful tool.
    Only, that now:
    1) It’s easier for a company to fail in this area, i.e., develop an innefective ad.
    2) Even when it succeeds, the impact of advertising remains very subtle. [Customers will rarely point back to a specific ad and say I bought product X as a result of seeing this ad]

  • http://www.AMarketersView.com Daniel Faintuch

    In my opinion, advertising still remains a very powerful tool.
    Only, that now:
    1) It’s easier for a company to fail in this area, i.e., develop an innefective ad.
    2) Even when it succeeds, the impact of advertising remains very subtle. [Customers will rarely point back to a specific ad and say I bought product X as a result of seeing this ad]

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  • http://www.alevin.com Adina Levin

    If you look at the history of advertising, it didn't jump from wanting to inform to wanting to entertain. Instead, advertising moved from information to emotional persuasion. Advertisers sold soap by playing on social anxiety (the girl/boy won't like you), they sold breakfast cereal by appealing to a mother's emotions (you need this breakfast cereal to take care of your kids), they sold coke and cigarettes with fun and sex appeal, they sold cars by appealing to social status, etc. Much less about the product, much more about emotions supposedly related to a brand. Entertainment kicked in much later (Superbowl-style ads) when viewers eventually got cynical about hokey emotional appeals.

    Advertising grew to be primarily about emotion; that led to a large opportunity for the internet to actually provide information; where the emotion is really deceptive; think buying a car and not knowing which model is a lemon or a safety hazard.

    I don't think the role of emotion in advertising goes away entirely; I think it gets different. When I see my friends on Twitter at local coffee shop or talking about a musician, it influences how I feel about the restaurant or band. My guess is that an element of emotional choreography will remain, but it will be much more like game design, where the game designer wishes to enable emotional experiences, and the emotions themselves are felt by people interacting with people they know.

  • http://www.goliger.com/ James

    Advertising now has definitely change alot over the years.

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  • Michelle

    I like what you are saying here, particularly “we stopped receiving useful advertisements”. We need to know where and how our ads are going. For example, if we call http://www.adwido.com and ask them to just publish our video ads online without considering target, location etc…. than surely “we say advertising no longer works”.
    We need to make sure our contents are geographically localized and search able with key words whether it's video and text and same can be done by the same firm for example, adwido.

    Does it make sense?

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  • http://www.getmemedia.com/ Sam

    If you're struggling to effectively market your new brand or business then I must recommend GetMeMedia.com.

    Getmemedia.com is the place to search for marketing communications ideas online. Designed to make access to great marketing ideas easy for brand teams and agencies, it is unique in providing visibility and access to hundreds of marketing opportunities from across the entire market place.

    Use http://www.getmemedia.com/ to kickstart your new business ideas.

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    ei chris you can advertise to my blog account which is jaymanansala.com and we can talk about business for 2 months you can pay $100 or 1 month for $50 and if you subscribe we all take the rest to promote your product my pay pal account is jaymanansala2505@yahoo.com or you can email me thru jaymanansala2505@yahoo.com

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  • Mikey

    Hey, if you need good advertising on the web thats cheap then go to http://discountproducts.zurvitaads.biz we can advertise in a single zip code when most places wont. We're like the yellow pages but alot better

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    ty fro the info i was in a need
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