How people's attention flows on the web
20 May 2013
It was all fantasies and delusions based on naive interpretations of consumer behavior by people who had a whole lot of ideological commitment to the web, and very little experience with real world marketing.
Spot on about the ideological commitment; see the faux-naive idea of markets as conversations for a whole lot more on what amounts to a neoliberal ideal that was very attractive to some.
What has struck me about working in the area of online marketing is both how much of my work is really about public relations and how much I had to learn given I had no prior experience in this area. What was also surprising was how traditional PR was actually based on very simple principles with a lot of meetings and handwaving to confuse the uninitiated.
The wider point in the post I quote from above is that the current vogue for talking about ‘native advertising’, hand-in-hand with the dread ‘content marketing’, is that it is a very traditional concept. The savvy individual should be aware by now that not only do people ignore display advertising it is a sector riven by fraud. However, in the search for an alternative that works the physicality of the medium is still ignored. The reason a magazine advert ‘works’ is that the medium requires me to physically turn a page and I expect to have to turn the pages to proceed: it is full-page. A television advert ‘works’ because I have no choice whether the advert appears in front of my eyes or not: it is full-screen. A billboard ‘works’ because it is large: it fills my field of vision. That said, I think people are sensitive to when a marketing message is dressed-up as something else.
tl;dr This quote highlights the failure of display advertising as a medium that works successfully on the web and the lack of a satisfactory solution; adverts masquerading as editorial are unlikely to work any more effectively and are in fact even more indirect.