The Future Of Advertising Today

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There are still grumblings about Facebook and their Beacon mess. What were they thinking? Did they actually believe that people would enjoy having everything they did tracked and then broadcast to their network? What about their recent foray into Social Advertising? Sebastien Provencher over at the Praized Blog sums it up best in this post: I Am Now A Blockbuster Spokesperson…

"Social Ads have now started to pop-up in Facebook’s user newsfeeds and they are showing a strange mash-up of your friends’ face with corporate advertising messages. By becoming a fan of Blockbuster in Facebook, I’m now officially an advertising icon for the company for all my friends to see. I’m not sure it works. Where’s the WIFM (what’s in it for me) for fans? Do you a get coupons, rebates, free rentals? Did I agree somewhere to allow use of my ‘likeness’? Social Media is all about trusted recommendations and this does not feel like it. Maybe if I was allowed to write the advertising message…"

So what is the future of advertising?

If we look at the biggest changes that have taken place in advertising since the online world started to really take hold, the only two dramatic shifts have come from Google AdWords – where a twelve-word text message created an entirely new advertising category, and the recent Facebook Beacon kerfuffle in terms of pushing advertising to the contextual limits (maybe the whole cookie saga too).

As Jack Nicholson so eloquently stated in the 1997 Oscar-award winning movie, "maybe this is as good at it gets."

So the new models are not pure interruption like traditional advertising. It’s more like a slight nuisance. We’ve come to this point because the mass population understands that nothing is really free. People expect to pay something for everything, and the price for free online services (like great search and online social networks) is advertising. Even the best Advertising Executives will tell you that people are not going to opt-in to more messages, and they’re not going to demand better advertising if given the choice. They’re going to opt-out whenever possible and hope they never have to see another ad in their lives again.

That being said, people will pay attention to messages that are targeted and relevant to them (isn’t that what AdWords and Beacon was/is trying to accomplish?).

So, when I hear all the complaints and gripes in the Blogosphere about new advertising tactics, and how people dislike them, I wonder what the future of advertising will hold. People are smarter, sharper and faster. They have global voices and the ability to reach a mass audience with the push of a publish button.

Maybe these newer forms of advertising is as good as it gets.

Maybe the future of advertising is here today, and we all have to get used to it.


  1. Advertising still has a long way to go. The very best advertising never feels like advertising – it’s just the right product or service at the right price, at the right time. When you have a flat tire on the road, an ad for roadside tire service doesn’t feel like an ad, it feels darn close to a public service. Any other time, it’s an ad.
    Search gives customers who are looking for something a connection to companies that have something. The evolution of search to prediction will let companies be smarter about advertising – more personal, more focused, and precisely timed. That’s what we’re aiming for in the student loan industry. The better we understand the lifecycle and timing of a student, the better we’ll be able to put an ad for a loan that they legitimately want in front of them at the exact moment when they are thinking about getting a loan – not before, not after.
    If we can figure out how to do this, stuff like interruption advertising will be a thing of the past (along with the high costs of interruption advertising) because we only have to advertise to the customer when they want it. Let our competitors spend all their money on ads when the customer doesn’t want it.

  2. Call me naive, but I really think opt-in advertising works. It’s just about offering such an incentive to opt-in, and not abusing that permission, that everyone benefits.
    However, in terms of traditional television/superbowl advertising. I think that’s the dying breed – no matter how creative it gets.

  3. I think with all the lash back attention FaceBook’s Beacon got a lot of advertisers are now being very careful with anything new/social/etc that they recommend or make predictions on.
    A recent announcement of some big content publishers signing up with Loomia’s ‘Seen This’ application will be interesting to watch how users pick this up…snip of post below from CNET
    Social-news company Loomia announced Wednesday that it has launched a new application called SeenThis, which connects news sites with social-networking sites so users can learn what their people on their friends’ lists have been reading. Loomia’s inaugural partners in SeenThis are The Wall Street Journal, NBC Universal, and CNET Networks, parent company of CNET
    Like many other “recommendation engines,” Loomia’s technology can suggest content items to a reader based on what he or she has already viewed. SeenThis goes a step further by using social-networking sites’ APIs–the one that the current content partners are using is Facebook–to gather what people on a reader’s friends’ list or within his or her regional, company, or school networks have been viewing on a partner site. So, for example, a reader might see that eight people from his Facebook friends list have read the latest doomsday story about the housing crisis, or that members of his alumni network on Facebook have been browsing the travel section.
    CNET Networks will be using SeenThis on its business news properties: BNET, TechRepublic, and ZDNet. NBC Universal, meanwhile, will focus on video so that viewers can learn which videos their social-networking contacts have been viewing.
    Perhaps because of the brouhaha that surrounded Facebook’s Beacon advertising program, Loomia has stressed that SeenThis is opt-in only. A Facebook user, for example, has to install the SeenThis application before it starts tracking habits on partner sites.

  4. Yes, people are smarter, sharper and faster… with technology’s help. I use Ad Blocker Plus (Firefox). Very efficient, even on FB. I desactivate ABP on sites with smart advertising (I agree with Christopher S. Penn’s comment), unfortunately they are very few.

  5. I found Dustin’s post very interesting. I believe that social networking applications such as SeenThis prove that online advertising has the potential to take online marketing and advertising to very personal levels. If used properly, this application gives marketers the opportunity to combine traditional marketing and advertising strategy with viral marketing techniques. Even more interesting, SeenThis will provide marketers will accurate outcome measures for this form of viral marketing.
    Although tracking your online purchases may at first seem invasive, I know that I would want to know which online stores my friends are shopping at and what purchases they’ve made. It’s really no different than asking a friend where they purchased their new pair of earrings — right?
    Do you believe that consumers would reject this ‘invasion of privacy’? Or, view an application like this as a way to rebel against the ‘marketing machine’ by having friends act as messengers and not the mass media?

  6. This is not as good as advertising gets, it gets more targeted and more personal, which is better (or worse depending on your point of view). I fully agree with Christopher, who suggests that advertising that is so focused and intuitive that it hits people precisely when they are looking for it, is the ideal both advertisers and consumers should want. The problem is we are not there yet, we are just on the road.
    Facebook Social Ads is definitely one of the bumps in that road. While I am sure there are users out there who were thrilled to see their face/friends faces in a Blockbuster or Coca-Cola ad banner, there are many who were completely appalled. This type of deceptive tactic destroys credibility and trust as much as it creates it.
    The medium is the message and that concept seems to have escaped those companies who use Social Ads. Though they have channeled their message to their audience through a source of credibility (their friends/acquaintances), they have done so at the expense of the content of their message. The message becomes the acceptability of using an individuals likeness without his/her explicit permission.
    In the end though this is just a bump in the road. Defining and determining what it is you want, often starts with identifying what you don’t.

  7. It would be the online video ads extending current ads style. Which means a combo or hybrid ad system. online video ads are already a challenge for TV’s. Some firms like already came with geographically localized and search able with key words video content and other forms of internet ads inclusive SEO, that’s the heart of online marketing.

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