Advertising: rumours of my demise are exaggerated

  • There is a huge debate raging online about the future of advertising. Started by Eric Clemons, a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, on Techcrunch last weekend, even the mighty Google has become involved.

    Professor Clemons argues that advertising is not trusted, not wanted and not needed. His target is internet advertising, but his comments might be said to apply to advertising in any form.

    The main premise of his argument is that pushing a message at a potential customer when the message has not been requested and when the consumer is in the midst of doing something else, is destined to fail. He goes further and says that advertising is misdirection, almost a crime.

    Nobody minds a point-of-view, but Professor Clemons is wrong and shows a lack of understanding of marketing and brand development. Advertising placed with the right frequency and in the right place works.

    Search advertising is one of the most powerful forms of advertising precisely because it does not misdirect searchers, nor interrupts them, but instead provides the answers they seek: classified ads in print work for the same reason. A well designed brand advert in a glossy publication can be said to be an enjoyable part of the browsing experience while at the same time creating positive associations for the advertiser.

    Businesses need to be visible and consumers buy from brands that they know and trust. Advertising supports these aims. While it is fair enough to wax lyrical about blogging (ahem), Twitter and other forms of PR, not everybody has massive reach through these media and nor are they always appropriate to the marketing objectives and target audience.

    Advertising can be a money pit and there are alternatives, but the fact that there are options doesn’t discredit it as a tactic. Indeed, with the economy in turmoil, there is no shortage of places to advertise and prices are being driven down to acceptable levels. Don’t rule it out.

    PS. If you think we should put our money where our mouth is, take a look at the back cover of South East Business this month.

    Article by Eric Clemmons
    South East Business - April edition

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