More Talk on The Demise of Advertising…


It’s fun to talk about the death of advertising (or anything perceived to be old, unchanging and stodgy), and everybody seems to be doing it. It’s true that advertising faces serious challenges. And yet, advertising’s not going away any time soon, if at all, though it is going through pretty interesting changes. Some of these are driven by technology, and others driven by the changed habits of consumers… which may also be driven by technology. But isn’t everything right now? It would seem that creative destruction has been unleashed on a broad range of industries for a dizzying diverse number of reasons. A common and consistent reason for this, though, is forgetting who your customer is and what they want. This would be despite the array of incredible tools now at our disposal to make this an incredibly easy thing to do, to stay connected to our customers. This is doubly true for advertising, and the cartoon above from Hugh McLeod (a favorite of mine), sums this up rather nicely. Add to this the very interesting presentation below from :

View more from .

From the slides above, a prescient quote from Jim Stengal, Global Marketing Officer at P&G, from last year:

“Today’s marketing model is broken. We’re applying antiquated thinking and work systems to a new world of possibilities.”

Actually, , CEO of , just wrote a nice article for AdWeek, , that gets to the heart of this. In it, Tim says:

“There will, of course, continue to be times and places where iconic, one-way messaging make sense — like bringing out the fine china for a special meal. But these instances (e.g., the Super Bowl), are increasingly rare and increasingly expensive. The real challenge facing one-way, brand-centric, non-conversational advertising is its focus on making the perfect presentation. The perfection model benefitted from very limited media outlets. Advertisers essentially spent money to guarantee craft, which theoretically helped a message stand out amidst the clutter. That formula had limits. Until now, marketing tools have existed in just two dimensions — words and images — sometimes in motion, sometimes with audio, always focused in a singular direction at the consumer.

Then someone invented the Internet. And Search. Quite suddenly, brands were no longer solely in power. The audience is in control. Media fragments. Most important, words and images are joined by a third dimension — technology — and now the marketplace flows in two directions instead of one.”

I happen to know of more than a few marketing/advertising firms that understand the terrain on which they navigate. As a result they happen to be doing quite well.

2 Responses to “More Talk on The Demise of Advertising…”

  1. Says:

    Here we go again. A proclamation of doom from someone or a group of people with no sense of history or perspective. Before you read my reply know that I am the General Manager of an Advertising Agency in Dublin Ireland that makes me biased but it does not make me wrong or uninformed….

    Advertising will not die. That is a fact. Let me repeat it again. Advertising will NOT die. They said print would corrupt the masses, they said radio would kill print, tv would kill radio, video would kill cinema, the internet will kill TV adn Digital will kill advertising. Well it won’t. It just won’t so please stop saying it will. There are no new laws, there are only new tools. Engagement requires a hell of a lot of effort and most consumers could not care less. I do not care enough about my breakfast cereal or my socks to tweet, blog or even read about them. What is happening is that good ideas are generating greater ROI than bad ideas as they become ownable and adoptable thorugh Digital means. The good ideas spread adn generate word of mouth. This phenomenon does not mean that advertising is dying it merely means that better ideas get more traction than bad ones. But hell we already know that. Good sites get better figures, good blogs get more follower etc. And no-one can anticipate or plan when an idea will get this type of adoption.

    Transparency is now a given and any failing in product, logistics, comms or pricing will be quickly identified and disseminated so the producer / service provider needs to be on top of their game. But to parlay this into saying advertising is dying is ridiculous. Advertisign after all is commercial messaging. The mix of media might change the absorbtion of digital media into the mix is necessary but to say that companies will stop sending out commercial messages and will instead engage on a one to one all the time with their consumers is wrong. Some will but a lot won’t.

    I love the new tools that digital has provided us as advertisers. It means I can refine, version and target executions of my message but I would give them all up for an extra million to spend on TV spots for most products and services.

    Advertising is not dying for two reasons (1) it still delivers (2) not every product or service has a compelling story to tell, sometimes it’s just about repetition. No-one ever admits to being effected by advertising and tracking studies since the 50’s found that advertising is about as believeable as a politicians promise.

    Advertising is not dying. Bad practitioners of advertising have fewer places to hide. Digital marketing is not a new paradigm it is an augmentation to the basic “Be Relevant, Be Interesting” rule of advertising that has been around since that barber stuck the sign outside his shop in Pompeii!

  2. John Schneider Says:

    Great comment, thanks for taking the time to write it. We’re in agreement that advertising is not going away. It is going through significant change, and those advertising firms that embrace this change have a much better chance of themselves being relevant and interesting.

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