Death of the Old Ad Model? Hardly.

There is a strong belief out there that the interruption-disruption model in advertising is dying out, thanks to shifting consumer trends in behavior and technology. Because shoppers and consumers are increasingly in control of their media content they can and do simply skip those ads they don’t want to see. Social media has further altered the landscape – people are now creating their own content be it in the form of a testimonial, a simple tweet or a video homage. But it’s important to remember that the interruption-disruption model is not a product of a post-industrial world. It dates to the earliest civilizations, with merchants calling out to passersby the quality of their goods. Something to keep in mind.

Thus the story goes that marketers and advertisers who want to maintain a meaningful level of engage will need to completely rethink what it is they do. They will need to turn advertising into content. Not only products and brands need to be sold, so will the means by which we promote them. Advertising will need to be so compelling that people seek it out, promote it and help create it. The new ad model is about creating great content and finding ways to make it part of the larger social and cultural dialogs.

But how true is this model? Is there a fundamental shift that is so dramatic that the old way of doing things no longer has a place? Forgive me, but I’ve heard similar things before – the TV would cease to exist by the year 2000; the invention of Internet would democratize the world and open-source would change the nature of capitalism. When CP+B declared that the model had changed by saying that the “big idea is boss,” they were simply repackaging the big idea. Yes, consumers have gained more control through social media, DVRs, Hulu, etc. They will no doubt continue to change the landscape. But only to a point.

The truth be told, I don’t believe the notion that consumers are or ever will be totally in control of the ads they are exposed to any more than I believe that war will cease to exist because of Twitter. Magazines, online and off, will not stop printing ads. TV advertisers will not do away with the 30-sceond spot for product placement exclusively. Not every campaign will need to be guerilla marketing. Yes, the technology changes and the techniques we use to promote on brand over another, but there is no reason to assume the old model will simply vanish. Again, the interruption-disruption model is not new and though it will change, it isn’t going to vanish.

Advertising is about capturing attention. It is and always has been about telling a story and getting people to stop, look and listen. Add to that a simple fact that the technology wonks out there seem to overlook: people simply don’t care. They don’t want to exert much energy or time learning about the range of products available to them or the hundreds of outlets in which to buy them. People are lazy about most things. They have better things to do with their time than spend 4 hours on CNET. Yes, there are those that do, but they simple do not make up the majority. In addition to basic disinterest, people love (and respond to) advertising far more than they’ll ever admit. We are trained to say we dislike advertising, but is it true? It’s a sociolinguistic construct, just as asking a person how they are doing (something that in truth we don’t much really care about). The fact is that the old model will be modified, but it certainly won’t die.

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