The real question of course is: Does online advertising work?
Isn't it time that somebody tried to deconstruct all this bul****t?
Unfortunately, it's impossible to give a simple answer to this apparently straightforward question.?
For starters, this is not a single question, but at least three different ones. The right question to ask would be: for whom does online advertising work?
Do banner ads, what we once called interactive advertising and now call display ads because nobody clicks on them, and much less "interacts" with them, work for publishers? Do they work for advertisers? Or do they just work for the middlemen based in Silicon Valley?
WHY BANNER ADS?
Why were banner ads introduced in the first place, starting with the infamous 1994 AT&T banner ad on Wired.com that said: "Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE? YOU WILL!"?
Because advertising was the easiest business model for a web startup to implement, and the easiest to market to investors. There's advertising in the newspaper, right? And in magazines. So you have this new medium with a lot of words and a modicum, back then, of images. What do you do? You stick your company's logo in a coloured rectangle and you're done!
Web startups could sign a deal with an ad network, forget about sales and focus on building an audience. If revenues were insufficient to cover the costs, which was the rule, it didn't matter because the mantra was that a site with millions of users would surely find a way to generate revenue sometime in the future. The later, the better
At least until the Bubble burst.
WHAT WAS ONLINE ADVERTISING SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE?
Online advertising was supposed to be wonderful, new, and exciting. But most of all, interactive! The idea was that, for reasons which I have yet to understand, people would want to "interact" with banner ads. Thus the IAB, or Interactive (not Internet, mind you) Advertising Bureau, was born.
My first question is: why in the world would you want anybody to "interact with your ads"? Wasn't the goal of advertising to convince people to buy your bloody product?
Second question: do you interact with TV ads? I usually head up and go to the bathroom. Why in the world would it be any different online, when I'm completing an important task or doing something that interests me and not just killing time in front of the dumb screen?