Advertising is Dead, for Realsies

wired-advertisingdeadIn 1984, the iconic Apple ad during the Superbowl promised that everything would be different. Ten years later, Wired asked the poignant question “Is Advertising Dead?”

Twenty years on, and not only has Apple and the rest of the tech world changed “everything,” but the traditional big ad agency is in trouble.

“Big-agency profits are dropping,” writes Mark Duffy in Digiday. “This will continue and accelerate in the next five years. Digital ‘content’ spending continues to rise sharply. At the same time, ad blocking is also rising exponentially. It’s the end of the advertising world as we know it: how do we feel?”

Duffy notes that part of the issue is our changing consumer base, noting that “millennials don’t want to be ‘sold’ product benefits; they want brands to be less ‘brandy.’ Brands need to create ‘human’ ‘engaging’ content without worrying about whether it increases revenue (WHAT?) because Gen Y is too savvy to be pitched to.”

Many in the industry are making the switch gracefully. As consumers look for entertainment, brands that get really good at storytelling are doing okay (Red Bull, anyone?) And professionals who can understand this and adapt are making careers for themselves.

“But,” Duffy warns, “producing content that’s authentic, entertaining, informative and sells is difficult, and it takes time. And this generation greatly dislikes things that are hard and time-consuming.”

From where we sit, it seems that Duffy is correct that the young talent is being snatched up by content shops and in-house studios. That’s where the money is, so doing the math isn’t hard.

We also agree that digital advertising’s future looks pretty grim right now. They’ve kind of killed their own golden goose. Yet one thing Duffy doesn’t mention is how well print ads are doing compared to digital. Print ads still engage, at a time when digital ads become just part of the noise.

What is largely dead is irrelevant, noisy and trite marketing copy. Forget features and benefits, and tell me a story. So if the Johnson box is your main go-to for that next direct mail campaign, you may want to inject a little Botox into your creative skills.