I am constantly amazed by the naivet’e of marketers who seek to breathlessly convince others that people are falling over each other to read their company’s marketing fluff. These snake oil salesmen are not interested in being contradicted, no matter how good the reasons. They want justification for what they’ve already decided. They want validation. Thus, they blindly move forward with their useless initiative, thinking that this is a legitimate way for people to “interact with the brand.”
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Because … that’s what they really want to do. Interact with the brand. Because… they love you as much as you love yourself.
Advertising = Narcissism
A few months ago a friend and an acquaintance were studying a magazine ad that was absolutely abysmal. It was a fold out ad (so it wasn’t cheap) advertising a wine that sells for $4.99 a bottle (which I found out elsewhere, not on the ad).
“What a hideous display of narcissism,” I exclaimed.
Reflecting for only a moment, but nodding her head in agreement (even pride?), the acquaintance replied, “That’s advertising.”
But what about *MY* Queros?
A recent report by eMarketer (website) states that the 30-second spot still works because revenues for advertising are increasing.
That revenues are increasing may be true, but that says nothing at all about television’s effectiveness as an advertising delivery vehicle, which is really the problem. It isn’t that people aren’t or don’t want to watch TV. They’re just not interested in the broadcast spam we know as advertising. That little tidbit doesn’t seem to concern networks or advertisers, as long as they get theirs.
Jump on in! The water’s fine! Spend as much as you like! You can tell it is working, because other people are doing the same thing, and for higher prices!
In a classic scene from the film Liar Liar, Jim Carrey plays a lawyer who cannot lie for 24 hours. During his “affliction,” when informed by his assistant that one of his clients was arrested for armed robbery and needed expert legal advice, Carrey, finally resigned to his unfortunate condition, held the phone straight in front of his face and yelled, “STOP BREAKING THE LAW, A**HOLE!”
Every day I seem to become more inclined to shout something similar to our fellow marketing practitioners.
An equal exchange of value in-kind
When you go to the grocery store to buy some milk, you willingly hand over something of yours, cash, to take something of theirs. This sort of exchange happens every day, and consumers generally believe it to be fair.
Marketers these days seem to think that this means if they provide content that is “free” to the user, the user has granted tacit approval to be interrupted by anything “research” says someone of a certain demographic is likely to want, which eyetracking studies and negligible click through rates (CTR) the industry strives to achieve show to be overly optimistic.
Don’t take what is not freely given.
Attention is a precious resource. Good content helps build trust, but unexpected interruption without permission destroys it — not only for yourself, but for everyone else who might desire to use the medium to deliver something the user would value. If we are not careful, by the time the number of people who are in power and who have the desire to make use of any medium effectively has reached critical mass, it will be too late, because the audience will have become accustomed to ignoring it.
It has happened to a lot of the traditional media already. And it will happen to new media, if we demand attention we have not paid for by providing something in exchange for the permission to seize and hold that attention.
We can only do that when we understand that people typically have no desire to “interact with a brand” for its own sake. The audience must receive something in return that makes sense in terms of value and practicality for the attention and information we’re asking from them in return.
What, me? Advertise?
Prompted by a theme initiated by David Reich (blog), Bob Glaza, a newspaper man himself, wrote a nice follow up piece (“Newspapers and Innovation”) to reveal some of the things his paper is doing to engage the reader to deliver what they want.
I commented that with the right content and delivery methodology, we may not be able to classify such a relationship as “advertising” anymore.
But before we get there, we have to get over ourselves. We’re not half as important as we think we are — even in the minds of our customers. Unless you are Google or MySpace, your customers will spend most of their time online on someone else’s site. And even if you are Google or MySpace, you are just a utility to get to something else (That’s not a knock on Google or MySpace. It’s an observation).
They’re just not that into you. – Cam Beck
P.S. After writing this, I was reminded about this nice little video about The Break Up between consumers and advertisers. It seemed appropriate to include here.
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