Why is digital advertising so lousy? Industry is too smug to innovate.

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The digital graveyard is filled with the carcasses of utterly confident people who all shared this sense of invincibility. The music industry and, to some extent, the news business built large mausoleums for themselves. Today, the advertising industry is working on its own funeral monument.

via Washington Post.

There Are 10 Comments On This Article.

  1. Two thoughts:

    1. I think advertising has a long track record of being slow to adapt to new media opportunities. The transition from radio to television saw a long period (easily a decade) of basically warmed-over radio advertising copy (stupid jingles and voice-over announcer ads) being coupled with lame graphics on television. The advertising industry is probably more of a trailing-edge indicator for when a medium has reached critical mass.

    2. Digital media desperately needs a big success story. There’s lots of hype of how digital media is the future; but there aren’t many undeniable success stories. Most of the positive news is more press-release spin than actual success. I have to say I’m starting to wonder how long the window of opportunity stay open for digital media. If someone doesn’t hit a home-run within the next 12-18 months, we might find our attention drifting to some other up-and-coming technology.

    • @Tom, I agree with 1. I look at an industry that my father worked in for years. If you remember the old time and temp signs at banks an other various places compared to the bilborads used today. It took them a couple decades to get there. From what I have seen some of the lame grapichs still exist LOL
      2. I don’t know about, but would venture a guess that you might be right.

  2. Thanks for bringing this to the table Tom. It seems to be the way of our industry. Too often, we are reacting to the ebb and flow of Capitalism, rather than helping to channel the tide. Perhaps it’s akin to the horror in the Gulf of Mexico, if you’ll excuse the analogy.

    It also reminds me of what I see as the beginning of all this change, starting with images sold and distributed on disc, a.k.a. PhotoDisc… when the onslaught of Royalty Free images became the new model. My colleagues here in Seattle were up in arms, but no one seemed to know how to deal with the powers that be. That era feels like a cakewalk compared to the latest changes we’re experiencing.

    Call me a Socialist (gasp) but I would have welcomed a photography union to come rushing in on horseback like the Calvary. Instead, we all sat back and complained but lacked a collective voice. Sure SAA & ASMP tried, but there was only so much they could do.

    Well, maybe it’s because we didn’t have Tom’s blog at the time. My hats off to you Tom… keep up the great work!

    Keith Brofsky

    • @Reader,

      Ha! Jezebel and Gawker are pretty low :)
      But what integrity did fashion media have anyway?

  3. Erik Stinson


    feel like i’m still making VW ads in 68

    time to change shit

  4. There could easily be several more bullet points (reasons).

    First, how many people in the good old days really enjoyed and sought out advertising? Maybe the super bowl ads. I believe most tried to avoid ads. Now we live in an age when we have many opportunities to willfully avoid advertising.

    Second, digital media is essentially free. Culturally this is an expectation. It may not be sustainable (hence the growing pains) It is difficult to create (brand) a premium perception in this “free” environment.

  5. So well said.

    This industry is lazy and unimaginative. Let’s talk about photographers reps – the laziest sacks of shit on earth!

  6. I believe the publications who understand digital, can make it more profitable than print…

    Okay, a digital reader brings in 15 to 20 times less in revenue, however print costs 100 times more than digital. Software licensees, press, delivery, papers that never get sold, shrinkage… so it’s all relative.. The only fee in digital is hosting fees.

    Second, people who block ads are people who are always going to block ads. Just like people who go to McDonalds for a free newspaper. And it truly isn’t killing digital revenue, nor do the ‘horribly’ designed ads result in less performance. Spoke to the CEO of the IAB and his thing with digital is about branding. People don’t click Facebook ads AT ALL, however we see them. It’s a medium that is maturing like traditional advertising. You can’t click TV ads, however TV is one of the most effective forms of advertising. We even ‘keep top of mind’ commercials that suck.

    So when this guy realizes that services like Adneedle are out there, and this guy understands the branding impact ads have (minus the click), he will likely get off his soap box.

    Also with respect to the ‘Apple’ thing. What he misses is that Verizon will NEVER have an iphone until well after 2014 due to contractual arrangements. So, no matter what 50% of mobile marketshare will never have the ability to use iphone, even if iphone was the only phone you could buy. This gives Google the opportunity to increase marketshare in the coming years, which its plan is working great. Let all the manufactures create iphone killers using the Google Android OS… what a plan!

    With that said, Google is poised to take the mobile lead, implement its officially FCC approved ad mob deal dominate the mobile marketing realm.