I've written about Bob Garfield's The Chaos Scenario before, but I can't seem to get away from it. It almost seems that each individual sentence carries its own point. I want to share with you a short excerpt from the book's 2nd chapter The Post-Advertising Age:
"Mass advertising flourished in the world of mass media because they were — by a happy economic accident — mutually sustaining, not because they were part ofGod's Natural Order. You've read the Ten Commandments; not one of them is "Thou Shalt Finance Hour-Long Dramas," nor is there a word in there about "reach" or "scale." So why assume that these must transition to the new model?Not only is it economically nonsensical, it squanders the very nature of the digital universe, the ability to speak with — not to, but with — the narrowest communities and individuals themselves. Thus the third problem with the future of online advertising: in a connected world, ads are a kind of crude and clumsy means of creating relationships with consumers. After all, people may not much care for commercials, but they like goods and services just fine and are in constant search of information about them."
Garfield lays out crucial points about the current state of advertising and our relationship with it, not just online. I immediately consider my own relationship with advertisements and my reactions to each of its mediums.
As for online advertisements, forget it. Unless I subconsciously recognize the brand of an ad while I'm focusing on what I'm really looking at online, it doesn't even graze my attention. TV commercials are a step up, I of course enjoy some of the funnier ones. Though I still have a bad habit of serial channel changing like most of us do. I occasionally look at newspaper and print ads but with a targeted attitude. I only give them a chance if I know what I'm looking for, which is the convenience of newspaper ad layouts.
To make your own opinion about the ‘post-advertising age,' first understand your personal experience with advertising—how and when you're exposed and your reactions. Also use the advertisers' role-reversal strategy of thinking like a consumer and think like the advertiser. Garfield says, "people may not much care for commercials, but they like goods and services just fine and are in constant search of information about them." So with this in mind, you as a consumer have to figure out how much commercials, or any ads for that matter, affect your hunt for product satisfaction. Do you trust advertisements for the brand they are promoting, or do they just trigger your curiosity to discover about all varieties of the product? If you were an advertiser, would you invest in online advertisements?
There was once a time when the commercial ruled—decades ago when there were only a few brands for each product and the commercial ensured quality. But now we are in the dawning of the "new model." Everything we have seen the Internet do has innovated the way we live, so it is fitting that this digital world demands to be different from other media. It challenges one of our oldest practices by telling advertising that it has to try much harder if it wants to earn a place online.
"Not only is it economically nonsensical, it squanders the very nature of the digital universe, the ability to speak with — not to, but with — the narrowest communities and individuals themselves."
If advertising wants to make the "happy economic accident" work in the digital universe it's going to have to play by the rules. It must follow the digital practice and "speak with" consumers and "individuals themselves," which is the heart and soul of online communication. We don't just stare at our computer screens; we read, process, think, engage, debate, argue, agree, organize, contribute and connect. If advertisers want a piece of this action they will be forced to morph their flat displays into valuable assets to the online community—a task I'm not sure is even possible.