CommentarySep 20th, 2010

The Truth About Online Advertising


Online advertising has developed a definite limp in some people’s eyes. The Google Classifieds approach is definitely not everybody’s favorite option. Rupert Murdoch recently said that online advertising doesn’t sell, and it’s one of the reasons for the new paywall strategy by News Corp. The industry as a whole has grown enormously, but if you’ve ever done leadership training, you’d probably diagnose “lack of direction” as the main problem.

You’d be right. The entire paradigm of online marketing is still evolving, and has already made obsolete a lot of market “truths” and basic assumptions.

 The assumptions were:

 ·        People don’t/won’t read long text articles.

 ·        Content doesn’t matter, glitz sells.

 ·        The internet audience is naïve and doesn’t know how to compare products.

 Whichever planet these assumptions came from, they were more than wide of the mark in terms of the global market:

  1. Article marketing is now the hottest property online, and good SEO practice. Online direct response copy is longer than most news articles.
  2. There are now as many articles online about “content is king” as there are about most celebrities.
  3. The internet audience learns at about age seven how to search effectively, and they’re experts when old enough to have a credit card. Forget about dumbing down to expert audiences. 

 One of the most gruesome reminders of the fallibility of set-in-stone advertising principles was the emergence of truly awful content strategies. When trying to remove money from human beings, giving them useless or inadequate information was definitely not good technique.

 Article marketing has glaringly exposed the demand for quality information content. Webmasters don’t want garbage. They do not need tag-heavy, SEO-deterring crud cluttering up their blogs or their valuable space, which could be used for something which actually generates revenue, not abuse and site maintenance time.

 The business angle has been seriously overlooked. If the basic principle of any form of marketing, particularly advertising is targeting, the medium is extremely relevant. Websites have their own audiences, and you’d think this staggeringly obvious fact would have penetrated through to the agencies.

Websites can’t be “content neutral” like TV or newspapers. The ads can be actual duds too, like putting dating agency ads on the obituary columns. Gardeners don’t want Viagra; they get enough spam. Add more, and the websites will naturally worry about turning off their audience, or at least annoying them.

 Glitz is dead. The world has YouTube and every other creative site on the web. The creative stuff on YouTube puts glitzy, garish ads to shame. The audience is used to caviar, and the ad industry is feeding them birdseed? It was never going to work; infomercials work a lot better, and they also hit target audiences. They have content quality, depth, and more credibility.

 The online versions of the “magalog”, market-specific websites, are also good, meaningful sellers with serious content considerations for their advertising. The content is much better, much more readable, and isn’t as hideously offensive as the truly dire “give us your money” approach.

 Anyone who’s had sales training, will understand- Ads are a form of sales spiel. If you wouldn’t use it on a customer, don’t use it online.

Michael Bowen is the editor in chief of Dealer Marketing Magazine. If you have any questions about this article, please email [email protected].

Authored by

Steven Couture

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