Advertising Is Dead

Ad week kicked off this week with a funeral for advertising, complete with a gospel band and a casket on stage, highlighted by a world-class eulogy by Barton F. Graf.

Their point was that people have been proclaiming that advertising is dead for decades upon decades. They noted how, despite the fact that people have been calling for a funeral for TV and TV advertising when the Internet became mainstream, they both live on.

They're right, advertising is not dead. That false eulogy has been written before. In fact, we are in the midst of a resurrection, a rebirth, a true miracle for those of us who work in the industry. We can be more powerful than ever, but only if we accept the fact that we must redefine advertising to be more than just interruptive messages. The creative canvas is no longer just a 30-second spot or a lame banner ad, or even a geo-targeted, socially enabled mobile ad unit. It's about providing true consumer value, and that is a hell of a lot more exciting than simply creating a campaign.

In an environment where a consumer is exposed to 5,000 marketing messages per day, where nine out of ten TV ads are proven to be ignored, where publishers refuse to give us anything more powerful than the pathetic banner ad, advertising is going to be about providing consumer value.

At its core, this is no different than advertising's goal when it was first born. Advertising provided value by informing customers about what products are available and helping them understand which ones are appropriate for their needs. But that is no longer needed because the world has become transparent. Consumers can learn about new products from search and determine how interested they are through integrated ratings and reviews.

Advertising now is about understanding how to create a brand platform, one where consumers are so enthusiastic that they will evangelize for that brand much more effectively than a paid, interruptive advertisement. To do that, we need to move beyond the rudimentary characteristics of the actual product and understand what is so compelling about a brand that people will go out of their way to proselytize for it. Then, we need extend that brand platform by removing friction in any point in the journey that a consumer takes from prospect to customer to evangelist.

As we re-define advertising, we will find that traditional and digital advertising are incredible for building awareness. But we will also find that there's an opportunity to create immersive experiences where we truly engage customers, provide true value and create breakthrough brands. Advertising is not dead. It is simply reborn and it's more powerful than ever before.