The Future of Advertising

From today’s “Om Says” email: “In 2005, the newspaper industry had revenue of around $47 billion. Today, it is half that amount. The radio and television industry have gone through the same compression. TV advertising declined 21.2 percent from $52 billion in 2008 to $41 billion in 2009, and fell a further 12 percent in 2010 according to the Yankee Group.”

Also today, a number of magazines were delivered by the post to my house. One was a Wired magazine on extreme diet, very slim at 150 pages. The 7th and 8th pages are taken by an unsigned ad which says, in part: “Barely noticed amidst the thunderous Internet clamor is the simple fact that magazine readership has risen over the past five years. Even in the age of the Internet… the appeal of magazines is growing… What it proves, once again, is that a new medium doesn’t necessarily displace an existing one … An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience. And, as reader loyalty and growth demonstrate, magazines do.”

Let me see… if you indeed “flourish” and enjoy loyal and growing audience why do you need to use your own advertising space to tell us how great things are? The answer: Because you can’t get anyone to advertise in this space.

The other magazine we got today was the 575-page Vogue (my wife’s way to relax and take a break from writing the history of madness in America). Vogue is published, I believe, by the same people that publish Wired, but the good word about the fate of magazines is not advertised there. No need to print a rallying cry when you publish more than 500 pages fully paid by advertisers.

Advertising-supported media flourished when quantity mattered: how big is your audience?  Today it’s quality that matters and the smaller and better defined it is, the better.

Narrowcasting has won. Advertising as sponsor of mass media has no future. And maybe it does not have a future, period. In yet another magazine, Fortune, Conan O’Brien’s executive producer tells the story of how Team Coco talked about the budget for advertising O’Brien’s 30-city tour last year before he suggested that first they will tweet about it. The tour sold out in a few days without a cent spent on advertising.

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I launched the Big Data conversation; writing, research, marketing services; &
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