In the last six months or so I’ve written a few thousand words as well as delivering public presentations and keynotes on the subject of digital advertising. I’ve railed against single figure response rates, questioned whether anyone ever decides not to press “skip ad” and got at least one audience to agree that nobody ever goes to Google to search for “advertising”.
And pulling no punches, I’ve wondered publicly whether advertising even belongs in social media.
It’s no great surprise that the new wave of media companies taking over the world see advertising as a cash cow. It was after all Rupert himself who first admitted that classified advertising was akin to “rivers of gold”, back in the days when the only way you could find a job, house, second hand car or indeed a pair of jousting sticks was to buy the Trading Post or the local paper.
And that’s why email accounts provided free by generous new media owners are full of unwanted suggestions based on the content of our messages and why private social media accounts often include helpful sponsored suggestions from people selling golf products and obscure jangly British guitar music. Maybe thats just me.
New and old media owners are all desperately trying to find those digital rivers of gold. From banner ads to pop ups to page take overs, they're keen to get our attention as they dream of the good old days when advertising money used to fly in through the windows.
And don’t get me started on programmatic. A pop up ad for hire cars just isn’t going to work three months after I hired and returned the car. That’s just one of the many reasons why the response rates on that type of random advertising are 3% at best.
My presentations, speeches, tweets etc had a common theme.
"Tell the digital gurus they’re dreaming".
Except of course, some days you find yourself as one of the 3%. Today on LinkedIn, I received a promoted post from an interesting new Australian business called Circle Source. It’s a new online marketplace for businesses wanting to connect with experienced subject matter experts and consultants. It was a promoted post. the sort I routinely ignore. Fifteen minutes later, and I'm now a proud member of Circle Source. (Offering very reasonable rates by the way.)
Simple. Well done LinkedIn and Circle Source. Try doing that with an ad in the local paper.
So what? Well nobody would confuse me for a digital native, but based on my experience as a sample of one today, there's a clear and obvious message here that goes far beyond the tedium of debates on Mumbrella about old v new, or pointless like for like comparisons of "channel".
It's obvious when you think about it, but the simple power of digital advertising is the unique ability to precisely target interested people with a desirable product in ways that have never previously been possible. Using Mosaic to analyse post codes isn't quite the same.
So forget all discussions of old v new. To succeed with digital advertising, all you need is a desirable product and an identified target market of interested people.
Sadly, for so many companies already using digital media as a slightly advanced form of spam, that's unfortunately still the difficult bit. Used car anyone?