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On the future of advertising

Fifteen years ago, many sensible people were predicting that all advertising would be online by now. They were wrong. To be fair, some were only predicting that because they thought that magazines and newspapers would be totally online, which hasn’t happened. Technology has yet to come up with the ‘paper killer’ which was promised, so we continue to raze forests to the ground in order to be sold stuff. Magazines are no longer the place where anyone turns in order to research a purchase, but they hang on to a role, and can therefore be an effective venue for speculative, interruptive advertising.

Similarly, TV and radio have managed to continue without personalising their content, remaining different enough from ‘online’ media that their advertising remains separate. Static posters and other public interruptions soldier on happily too. All will probably integrate into a connected, amorphous mass eventually, where they’ll be tailored to whoever’s looking at them. Advertisers will be sold the results and won’t need to specify the media which gets them what they want.

The problem for all advertising is that greed has turned off more and more consumers, who have developed the ability to ignore – or literally switch off – the messages. Paying to avoid them through subscription-funded systems is equally popular.

Meanwhile, new media outlets launch every day with the aim of being advertiser-funded. It can’t last.

I think that online advertising, although already massively disruptive, has held itself back through publishers’ short-termism. The audience hates it. But online advertising is still a ‘wild west’, fuelled by advertisers’ ignorance, and will change. The future is, I’m sure, going to be for advertisers to take a do-it-yourself approach and stop piggybacking on third-party media. Promotions such as sponsorship and content marketing will be at the forefront of advertising activity. The winners will be the businesses which help their clients rather than make a noise. The brightest folks in marketing will be those who actively work to provide something that their customers appreciate, rather than just choosing advertising silos and reacting to sales people.

Just my ten cents, as they say.

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