Overboard: Why Ads Stopped Working

Ad rates are declining!  The sky is falling.  Print media ad rates have plummeted to an all time low.   I need ads that engage me! Media will only survive selling value added services! (some guru)

I’m not proud to admit it but I logged into Myspace yesterday and could not believe how many ads I was bombarded with! 7 adverts, with 1 advert containing 4 more. Reading todays weekend newspaper I found over 16 ads in the first 8 pages. There comes a point where people say enough is enough and stop listening. Seth Godin describes a similar situation where he asks people who have just read a newspaper to describe any ad they saw. The response? Usually none are recalled.

Instead of plastering every available inch with an advert, showing restraint and allowing less ads on a platform will increase their effectiveness and value. Any publisher, be it online, television, radios or blogs is in the business of selling a channel. The higher return from the channel for the marketer the higher price the publisher receives and the more likely repeat business. Marketers win with higher conversion, Publishers win with higher prices.

Addition (17/04/2010): There has been an interesting discussion of this article over on Hacker News. To clarify a few points:

  • I am not against ads in any way. My background is studying marketing;

  • My case saying that ads are not working is not in terms of publisher revenues but marketers conversion. If marketers don’t convert they will try other mediums (how often do we see mediums crash because advertisers leave?); and

  • The point I am making is that if we are bombarded with fewer ads there is a higher chance we will pay attention to them. The marketer converts. The publisher charges a premium.