Is Advertising a Dying Industry ? It doesn’t take much looking around to question the significance advertising plays in our daily lives.
Being a kid in the late eighties and early nineties was a great time for Saturday morning cartoons. Just as entertaining as Ninja Turtles, there were commercials that Reagan deemed appropriate for minors, Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms, Crossfire, Battleship, Gak, you name it. I can remember all the products with excitement as they were perfect compliments to the shows, who wouldn’t want cereal to go with cartoons?
The Land Before Time had just been released on VHS, at the beginning of the tape was a commercial for Pizza Hut. I remember the commercial well showing birthday parties, baseball games, but mostly kids eating Pizza Hut having a good time. If the advertisers wanted me to ask my parents for pizza, it had succeeded. My parents didn’t just buy the movie with awesome cover art, they also paid to see that ad.
I was reading the paper yesterday and saw an interesting article, ‘Nielsen Adjusts Its Ratings to Add Web-Linked TVs’, the article may as well have said, ‘Nielsen finds Youtube Views on Website.’ How could the oldest rating agency just barely be considering online videos in 2013? For me it seemed like common sense but perhaps executives may have been attempting to downplay the importance of a growing trend within their industry.
With this topic in mind I happened to be watching an online video about Andrew Sullivan’s latest venture, The Dish, which plans to be funded entirely by readers. The website has chosen to completely forego advertising revenues. With Sullivan himself insisting that his pay at The Daily Beast was in decline as ad revenues dropped significantly. The model is a simple $20/month subscription that ensures readers access to the site’s content, not very complicated. The dynamics he outlined in his NYTimes interview are more interesting.
He argued that the model takes journalism to the reader and does away with the current ‘subsidized’ system, which he described as based on classified ad monopolies, sports, comics, wealthy philanthropists, and other subsidies intended to pay for the journalism. In the case of ‘The Dish,’ he argued ‘we’re going back to a real market,’ selling products directly to readers.I decided to investigate further.
‘We’re going back to a real market’
The Atlantic recently engaged in paid articles and had to retract one by The Church of Scientology that offended readers. Why should this have been surprising? I myself currently run a set of Pay Per Click Ad campaigns with Google for a few clients of mine. These ads are based on a bidding system and usually reserve advertisers the absolute top of Google’s search. Most people probably best know this section as the one labeled ‘Ads.’
Despite the absolute top position my best number of clicks based on impressions is around four percent, which most advertisers consider decent for my industry. Where did the other 96 percent of users go? I shouldn’t be shocked to know they most likely went for the non-paid section to see content that is likely more relevant.
The writing is on the wall, while advertising is still prominent and may continue to be for sometime, users are becoming better at ignoring ads and continuing on their path. The truth is that while we have celebrated ad culture, it is almost as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings deemed it ‘Managed Dissatisfaction.’ We’ve fallen in love with our captors, Super Bowl Spectacles, Morning Cereals, Mascots, and don’t realize that if the ads disappeared we may not even notice. People sign up for Netflix because they want to pay directly for content, and are not bombarded with ads during programs.
People increasingly are completely foregoing ads and opting for direct interactions or specific content. One could look no farther than a DVR box, or the increased prevalence of offerings from Netflix, and Amazon video. While estimations put cord cutters at only 0.6% of TV watchers, I’m not convinced those numbers speak for paid subscribers who buy cable for only HBO, or young users entering the system. To me it all sounds like a good presentation made to assure cable companies everything’s gonna be all right. I’ve written about advertising before and I don’t think everyone is doomed to irrelevancy just yet.
Searching for the Space Jump google gave me a list of videos first, which I skipped looking for an article, over to find a trusted source Wikipedia. Like many modern web users I don’t like spam, and in many cases will skip the top listings in search of something trustworthy
I read a little about the history of the jump and it’s significance and then trailed to the Red Bull Stratos Page. I decided to skip it thinking it was an ad and instead wanted to watch the real thing. As I watched Felix Baumgartner jump from his balloon, I noticed the Red Bull logo staring almost at me.
The project was taken on by Red Bull financing and promoting a project not directly making a sales pitch. Before the drink makers involvement I had no idea about the Space Jump nor am I certain anyone else would have. More than the logo I could connect science, technology, and space to the brand. Maybe there is a path for advertisers just yet?
As I cleaned out my parents house one day I came across a box of old VHS tapes. All of them were imaginably still in working order. I thought about how it would be to see the ad from that old Pizza Hut commercial again. I debated for a few minutes if I should save them or even take some home with me. It later hit me that most of these movies were already on Netflix, without any ads and no rewinding. Alternatively I threw them all away, they’d served their purpose.