Lets be absolutely honest here. Some of the best advertising in the world counts as great content doesn’t it? Its consumed, shared, discussed, blogged about, liked, tweeted, pinned and everything else.
So why is advertising still considered such an evil?
Why is the entire social media industry afraid to ‘sell’ to its communities? Because people don’t like ads right? They actively avoid them at every turn.
So ‘interrupting’ your content, the content that your target market has turned up to consume, with a common or garden sales message is simply not the done thing.
Lets face it, advertising is a dirty word.
Which is strange really. Have a look at this video for the car manufacturer Volkswagen
Awesome isn’t it? And one that’s been shared and liked and discussed as much as any other bit of authentic content you could lay your hands on!
Or what about this, from a few years back?
What a fantastic advert! And can you remember the amount of buzz it created at the time?
it’s not just TV and cinema that does such a great job, I did a very popular post on the most inappropriate ads of all time, all of which are from old news papers. While they would never appear today, once again they seem to tick every single box I am aware of and meet the criteria of great content.
Radio has had its moments too – I love this ad, it’s so funny!
It’s not the full version, so it misses the joke. It’s for a car with a free sat nav, complete with the warning to ‘be careful’, as you may arrive ‘too early’! Once again, top quality content, as well as fabulous advertising!
So why all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth when it comes to interrupting all our lovely content with ads? SImple – because 99% of ads are crap.
No one wants to ‘consume’ them, because they have little value. Simple.
But hang on, there’s a ton of ‘content’ online that’s equally crappy, that content gets away with some kind of consideration because it’s in some way more authentic than advertising.
Poorly shot video with little or no artistic merit gets pumped out of people’s personal blogs. Uninteresting podcasts with no point, purpose or editing, some over an hour in duration, that can surely only be of interest to the person that’s recorded them, pass for ‘art’. Or at the very least they attain some degree of credibility.
Is this simply on the basis that some one has created it? Someone has sweated over its design and inception to the point that the creation of it surpasses its intrinsic value?
What about the ads on display here? They are generally accepted to be the work of some level of genius! Funny, compelling, down right interesting. Yet somehow relegated to a lesser level of credibility than a 1000 words churned out by some self-proclaimed social media guru.
A ‘guru’ unable to generate any kind of significant audience on their own merits, despite the advantages afforded to them of an entirely free, and world-wide publishing eco system, complete with world-wide promotional opportunities.
An eco system that arguably is a more fundamental step forward than the original printing press was 500 / 600 odd years ago.
Certainly some would argue that the ability to publish on the world-wide web in the written form, audio or video, as easily as we can today, is as fundamental a break through, and I for one agree.
Unfortunately, it’s also led to a plethora of cat videos, mommy bloggers, get rich quick schemes and the general witterings of a class of content producers that absolutely no one is interested in at all.
Of course, there are some amazing blogs too – some of which I’ve taken the time to recommend in this post, and in this one too. And my admiration for bloggers like Mark Schaefer and Gini Dietrich and the ever dependable Seth Godin are a matter of record.
And it’s also the case that there is a whole ton of rotten advertising too. I think the vast majority of it – that’s the trouble.
But why does non advertising content get away with the squeaky clean reputation? I would be willing to speculate that the amount of great advertising ever produced outweighs the amount of great blogging content ever produced? What do you think?
But anyway, aside from that, why isn’t it the case that great ads aren’t accepted as great content?
It is after all, sometimes the case. The Superbowl commercial breaks for instance are eagerly awaited appointments to view along side the most popular of sit coms.
Seth Godin wrote early on in the evolution of what we currently regard as social media marketing, and whats most recently been called ‘content’ marketing, that people don’t want sales messages rammed down their throats any more. The permission economy relies on businesses forming genuine and authentic relationships with their clients in order to promote a mutually beneficial commercial relationship.
And lots of people jumped on! Why not? It’s a commendable aim.
But is any one actually managing to deliver this? There are a few notable exceptions maybe, but who actually is managing to make any significant profit as a commercial business through content marketing? What online paragon of a new way of working has managed to replace the old interruption / advertising models of generating cash?
Facebook don’t. They sell ads, and their founder was recently reported to have said that they needed to get better at it too. Twitter only seem to make money when they ask for investment – do they make anything they can sell?
I read that even Amazon have a tiny profit margin of around 2%!
Meanwhile, traditional media like TV and Newspaper still take far and away the majority share of advertising money.
Yes, I know you think they are dead or dying, but that’s a little exaggerated Even poor old press, in the UK, still accounts for around 30% of all ad spend. Trust me, that’s a lot of cash!
Add to this that I read every day that marketers are increasingly concerned about lack of genuine real cash money ROI for their social media marketing.
Some are even starting to consider that the real value of this stuff is in internal collaboration and customer service. Which is fine, and I wouldn’t argue with that either.
All of which takes us back to the humble advert. They been around for a long long time, and the good ones at least, don’t seem to be ready to go away just yet.
And I think they deserve their place as genuine and authentic content too, as much sa any other type of engaging interesting and compelling content does anyway!