What will replace advertising?

Over the last two years I’ve been thinking extensively, and speaking on, about funding new media. (Want me to come speak on the subject at your group – email me!) It’s become increasingly obvious that advertising probably isn’t the way the majority of media will be funded in the future.

In the (relatively brief) period of mass media – Television, newspapers, magazine and radio – the publisher or license holder built an audience and then sold that audience to advertisers to push unrelated products and services to the audience who mostly didn’t care. With 70% of Americans desirous of paying to avoid advertising (counting me among them) you have to wonder how long the tedium of irrelevant advertising will be tolerated by audiences.

Even the web is a horrible experience unless you are smart enough to enable ad blocking and Click2Flash (Flash blocking in webkit displays system wide – OS X only afaik). With those two add-ons enabled the web doesn’t burn my eyes with the pain of flashing, jumping, irritating distractions. If my failure to ruin my experience of a site by blocking the ad sends the site off the net, so be it. I didn’t ask for the advertising.

Technically, of course, it’s not all advertising that’s horrible, just irrelevant advertising. Like watching a 45 minute show on Hulu and seeing the same fabric softener ad five times!!!! And Hulu has the temerity to complain that I’m using ad blocking! People don’t really mind relevant advertising, but so little of it is! In fact, for me about 99.9% of advertising is irrelevant. In maybe 200-300 hours of in-car listening to KNX1070 (LA News radio) I’ve heard one ad that was relevant (Windscreen chip repair). That is the only ad that doesn’t carpet KNX wall to wall! (Figures!)

So, I have a fairly hard-and-fast rule that I don’t buy from anyone who advertises to me. Send me junk mail, go out of my purchase consideration list.

Anyhow, I’m not alone. Not only is advertising losing its effectiveness, it turns people off (and yes, I have references for every assertion I make, I just don’t want to clutter the blog) and that’s just not going to be a way to build an audience.

But there’s a much bigger problem. There’s not enough advertising for any “new media” and “old media” is losing advertising support in dramatic amounts.

But most relevant of all. Advertising in someone else’s show makes no sense. The biggest advertising brands would be much better off with branded entertainment, where they would pay for the content and integrate the advertising. American Academic Mark Pesce, now at the Australian Film, TV and Radio School, coined the term “Hyperdistribution” where a single sponsor integrates ads relevant to the show’s audience and in the style of the show, and then it’s distributed anywhere and everywhere it can be. P2P and Bittorrent distribution is welcomed!

My friend Cirina Catania worked on a very successful series of branded media (online video) for Chivas Regal and I believe that this is the direction of the future: useful, interesting content that is, in some way, relevant to the brand and hooked back to the brand. Why torture audiences with irrelevant advertising when you can entertain them and still get the brand message across in a relevant way?

I’m clearly not the only one that thinks this. I recently found a great presentation called (correctly) The Audience is always right. Check it out and then make a comment.

2 thoughts on “What will replace advertising?”

  1. Somewhat unsurprisingly from one perspective http://www.renault.tv is a channel all about Renault, their cars, their brand and what their customers do.

    You have to dig quite deep to get beyond the heavy branding. But there are indications that they are beginning to embrace the notion of presenting material that both Renault and their market might find informing/educating/entertaining. It’s clear they are still giving in to the knee jerk PR urge of promoting at us and as yet eschew the Reithian breadth of purpose that gave the BBC such a great childhood.

    If they kick the corporate habit of anal preoccupation with brand then to my eyes the site will begin to gain credibility and even become useful. A little attention to production value might help too.

    It’s a start from one of the more innovative manufacturers but I think it’s currently a bit narrow and deep to build a really useful community around a URL.

    Corporate TV channels seem to be on the increase and I look forward to seeing how they develop because traditional TV is evidently going the way of the glacier.

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