Television: the Once and Future King?

October 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

Thank goodness Joe Marchese spotted the Economist piece, “The Return of Advertising: The Box Rocks”, on which he opined in his Online Spin column today, “Why television is Still King.” Per The Economist, advertising is leading an economic recovery driven by the resurgence of the 30-second commercial on TV. Per Joe Marchese’s Spin column, great, but The Economist also notes that, “Search engines and online banners are not nearly so good at making people aware of new products. Nor do they offer emotional experiences. Television’s ability to build brands by surrounding adverts with gripping content is unsurpassed.”

Writes Joe:

“…the differentiator is that television has created a system for delivering advertising in a way that fits with the medium and engages consumers, giving advertisements the ability to create discovery and tell stories. The Internet has the potential to offer marketers the same ability, but simply needs a better system than banners and search.”

I think Joe has it right in the first (two) parts and wrong in the third. Yes, the differentiator is that television created a system that fits with the medium and engages consumers. Yes, the internet has the potential to offer marketers the same ability (on which Joe has written eloquently for years). But, no, a system apart from banners or search is not required.

Indeed, look at search. Granted, search does not tell a lot of stories. But, man, is Google rich. Why? Well, its paid search business, inclusive of its substantial ad network, has done a good job of using the medium in a way that fits with the medium. The thing people need to do regularly online is search for stuff. Bingo, paid search!

The thing people need to do after searching for stuff is engage with what they came searching for. Bingo, display advertising. Except, that display can’t stop waving its arms and popping-up to shout, “Look at me! Look at me!” Display is dedicated to the proposition that it must be the center of attention, which is an attitude it picked-up from – you guessed it – television (okay, also radio).

There is nothing wrong with display. There is everything wrong with advertising expectations. And when the internet stops trying to be something it’s not (television), it can get on with fitting-in.

See also, here, here, here and, perhaps also, here.

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