Jeff Jarvis recent post “Advertising is Next” created significant buzz in media, marketing and advertising circles. Jeff-never one to mince words-suggested that advertising as we know it was…shall we just say, not in good shape. To provide a foundation for his argument, he lampoons the recent Conde Nast announcement, which calls for transforming the company from a media to commerce business. Putting aside the logic or efficacy of the Conde Nast strategy-perhaps a post for another time-Jeff actually raised some thoughtful questions about the state of advertising today and where the core of the industry is headed.
The art of creating an ad, practiced by a small, tightly knit fraternity of of agencies, most following philosophies put forth by genius’s like Olgivy, Rubicam and Clow, has always been about creative vision and talent. Break through creative defined brands and mass media fueled the advertising boom. The golden age of the ad agency coincided with the extraordinary growth of television in the 1960′s. Given the mono-media nature of the times, advertising was marketing back then, a history the hit AMC television show Mad Men chronicles so beautifully. The science that supported media buying for advertising was well served by relatively simple research based metrics on print and television. In the mid 1990′s, the introduction of the Internet, launched the next media revolution, but this mass reach medium proved to be a *far different* animal than television or print and the aftermath has left advertising in limbo.
As the Internet matured, the platform provided new information that allowed marketers access to real time data that blended traditional advertising statistics and direct marketing metrics. Traditional advertising that drove branding and awareness started to feel the pressure of click-through ratios, and action based metrics. Lead generation and performance marketing, long the bastion of “below the line” marketing, moved above the line. Branded response became the watchword. The impact of these changes is still being felt too.
Advertising has always worked best as a core part of marketing. The Internet isolated advertising however and called into question the value and the impact. While not always an easy or smooth process, the reality is, advertising is going through a necessary step, as marketers evolve their strategies post the media revolution the Internet created. Advertising needs to once again become part of a cohesive, integrated marketing program, one that today encompasses public relations, social media, content and multimedia efforts. Advertising needs to shift from a series of projects to a core component of marketing. And marketing needs to become a continual process, operating as an ongoing service. Successful marketers are now approaching “Marketing as a Service” similar to the Software as a Service offerings you see from companies like SalesForce.com. Advertising, content syndication, PR, social media and lead generation working together in a service model, with companies like Marketo and Eloqua providing analytics that help to guide and steer the process.
So while it’s dramatic to suggest that advertising is dead, the idea misses the mark. Advertising is becoming marketing. Right where it should be.