Bob Garfield's 'Chaos Scenario'

Fascinating article, subtitled 'A Look at the Marketing Industry's Coming Disaster', on 'What happens if the traditional marketing model collapses before a better alternative is established?'

If?

I think 'when' is the better question.

Even the good TV has gone bad, as CSI gets worse with every spin-off, on-brand and off. (I have to confess, though: I have a real soft spot for NCIS, mostly because their cartoon characters are a lot more fun to watch than the huffing and puffing prototypes on the more 'serious' iterations.) Not even worth mentioning the dynasties that started bad.

TV advertising has gone down hill with them. Does anybody remember the adZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz from this year's Super Bowl? I was hoping for excitement on the order of another wardrobe malfunction, and all I got was Sir Paul McCartney huffing and puffing out the oldies. A dose of any of the ED remedies currently blanketing the market would have helped the show. (Of course, if it had run for more than four hours, it would have meant an embarassing trip to the emergency room...)

But the alternatives aren't much more feasible or appealing, at least for now. The glitzy, personalized billboards served up to Tom Cruise in Minority Report, based on retinal scans, are still a ways away. And as Chas Edwards notes in his blog entry on 'TV's Micro-Targeting Future',

Seemingly everyone wins when a commercial featuring all-wheel drive airs on TV sets in Rockland County, N.Y., but not on TV sets in Westchester, N.Y., if the snowstorm turns to rain while crossing the Hudson. But here's the rub: This kind of ad targeting means dozens if not hundreds of 30-second commercials for every single advertising campaign, each spot racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in video production costs. In other words, creative costs could quickly outpace the media costs to place those spots on the air. Likewise, the investment in ad agency staff required to plan, place and track dollars spent across hundreds of channels, websites and radio networks—rather than just a handful in a typical ad campaign today—could put agencies out of business overnight.

So scratch that approach for the near term. And finally, as Garfield asks in 'Chaos Scenario',

Content will be enormously diverse, agrees Forrest Research research director Chris Charron, but will it constitute a legitimate advertising medium? “A lot of people talk about these social networks and blogs and the blogosphere as being great ways to attract consumers and attract eyeballs and potentially good advertising opportunities, but history shows that is not the case, even recent history. Remember GeoCities? I think they were bought by Yahoo for $3 or $4 billion. Well, it never became a very viable advertising outlet and that’s because it wasn’t a great context for people to place ads. Advertisers weren’t interested in putting them on a personal homepage for Chris Charron for my friends and relatives to see.”

Of course, if any of you advertisers would like to drop $3 or $4 billion (the billion also applies to the $3, by the way) to advertise on my blog, I'm fine with it, and I'm sure Sun would be happy to help... for a slice of the pie. I hope you all haven't given up on blog ads just because of that GeoCities thing.

If at first you don't succeed...

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