Advertising: Loathe It but Don't Leave It

"Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic."

That quote sums up the opinion many people have of advertising today. But wait, this quote is from 1759, attributed to English author Samuel Johnson. Apparently, the downward spiral toward atrocious advertising has been going on for at least 250 years. That is, if you subscribe to the view shared by those who have little regard for the value of advertising.

An article by George Simpson appearing at Online Media Daily reminds us that somebody must find value in advertising, otherwise it would cease to exist. Simpson's article, and the less-than-flattering views that contrast with the idea that advertising adds value, gives pause to consider what advertising's role is today and will be going forward. Advertising on TV and in newspapers appear to be the most likely candidates for significant change.

Any change in advertising will be driven by consumers' media consumption habits. If people spend less time watching TV (a study by Nielsen Co. indicates TV viewing is threatened by time shifted viewing and watching video online), advertisers will need to respond by either shifting where they place messages or change the nature of their messages. Commercials could become available in an on-demand format in which a 30-second version might be the norm to embed in a program, but a long-form version allowing for more extensive consumer engagement might be a click away. Similarly, as newspaper readerships decline, advertisers' needs to communicate do not decline along with the circulation numbers. It necessitates a change in how to reach the audience once accessed via print newspapers. Perhaps it is through a newspaper's web site, with the ability to drive traffic to an advertiser's web site for more extensive engagement of the consumer.

I agree to a certain extent with Samuel Johnson. There is some really bad creative work being called advertising today. But, there are good and bad books, good and bad paintings, and good/bad works in virtually all art forms. The demise in advertising quality may be debatable, but the demise of advertising as a communication form is greatly exaggerated. The need for businesses to communicate with audiences is greater today than ever before given the intense competition for customers in most industries. Its form may change, but advertising will be around (and likely loathed) 250 years from now.

Online Media Daily - "Unloved. But Effective."

Labels: ,