When people talk about online advertising, they’re really talking about banners ads (or display advertising). If media companies don’t like the idea of trading analog dollars for digital pennies, why don’t they focus on the entire Digital Marketing enchilada and not just the online advertising?
Banners ads are not the revenue generation model for the online media of future. Even when the first banner appeared on HotWired in 1994 (thank you, AT&T), people’s first reaction was not to click, but to ignore. Up until that point, it looked like the Internet was going to be a different type of media and, potentially, even one that would be free of interruption-based advertising. So much for that idea. Instead media companies saw this channel as another place to plaster their messages.
But, in the midst of that, several other interesting and powerful digital marketing channels arose. Search, e-mail and affiliate marketing, and the ability to create very powerful content as media (be it Blogs, Podcasts, online video, etc…). All of those channels are multi-million dollar opportunities to grow a business and to become much more effective at Marketing, yet when we hear about Digital Marketing, the default is think about banner ads.
When we shift that first impression, we change the landscape.
Just like the mass media, the online media is controlled by publishers and agencies. This is what makes up the online marketing channel. People with big properties along with the audience and inventory to help an advertiser reach a bigger target market. The trick is that publishers need to convince advertisers to buy space based on how many "eyeballs" they can deliver and how that stacks up against their traditional media buy. The discussion goes something like, "you’re going to get X amount of people with your TV buy, and I can deliver X amount of people in the online channel as well."
Did you ever see a mass advertising campaign that was supported online with e-mail and affiliate marketing only?
Maybe that’s the issue.
People have been crying about the death of the banner ad for a long while. Just today, Marketing Charts had an interesting news item titled, No Improvement on Horizon for ‘Standard’ Online Advertising, which stated: "A slow-to-no growth forecast in the US for ‘standard’ components of the interactive advertising market – such as banner, display and pop-up ads – is not cyclical and shows no signs of improving quickly, even if the nation’s economy starts to move upward and out of recession, according to a forecast report from Borrell Associates… 2009 will be the first year since the start of century in which banners, pop-ups, and interactive display advertising overall will show little or no growth, and may likely decline."
So, on the one hand we have traditional media and advertising agencies banking on digital for their future, but on the other hand, the area that is getting the most attention is the one with no growth and possible decline.
Do we have to make the other digital marketing channels more sexy or do we sit back watch them all blow their brains out on trying to figure out how to sell more banner ads?