Striking a balance between marketers' and consumers' needs isn't going to be easy.
Time was, huge waves of hype would wash over the online advertising industry, stirring up a lot of activity, only to be replaced by the next wave of hype. Now times are more sober. The buzz is more restrained, and discussions tend to center around issues and problems the industry needs to solve, not the next great thing.
Over the past two weeks, four issues have been hotly debated on an industry online discussion group to which I subscribe. Each one is interesting, but seen together they point to some important issues that are facing all marketers.
Let's look at them:
All of these issues are related. Each addresses the very unsteady balance between advertisers and consumers, a balance that has been upset by technology, the advent of new media, and the recent desperation of many technology and media companies.
Most people say they don't like advertising, but almost everyone is willing to accept some advertising in exchange for something they want. Companies that strip-mine this tacit agreement, who provide nothing in exchange for users' attention, threaten an already tenuous ecosystem.
I have always argued that technology will ultimately empower people to filter out the messages they find worthless. And while the advertising landscape is surely changing, shrewd product placement can never replace the amount of advertising that companies (and arguably, our economy) depend on.
Spyware, pop-ups, TiVo, and spam -- all are signs of a crisis for marketing. Legitimate marketers -- those with value to provide -- need to start figuring out what type of communication landscape will balance their interests with the growing power of the consumer... before it's too late.
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Jeffrey Graham is vice president of client development at Dynamic Logic, a company he joined in January of 2001. Dynamic Logic specializes in measuring the branding effectiveness of online marketing. Jeffrey has served as research director at two online advertising agencies, Blue Marble and NOVO, and has worked with clients such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble, and Continental Airlines. He has taught Internet Research at New York University and has a Masters degree in the subject.
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