The end of the advertising free ride?

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Advertisers have been paying for and subsidising our media for years. Television ads pay for our tv and radio (apart from the draconian BBC) and magazines and newspapers cost less because of the adverts within. So a big thank you to the advertisers because they’ve been spending all that money without a lot of proof of its effectiveness.

This could be coming to more of an end though. I’ve noticed more and more in magazines that the ads are squeezing their way into the editorial sections. After I read a whole page about a type of head and shoulders shampoo I spotted a promotion tag at the top of the page. It made me feel that I had been cheated into reading the ad as I normally would have passsed it by.  So as the public have learned to spot an ad in a fraction of a second the advertisers have had to evolve how they serve the ads. As the general public have gotten more attuned to what adverts look and sound like they tend to zone out a lot of the time.

Offline advertising works on a more scattershot approach but online ads can be more targeted. Web users have been developing their banner blindness skills for some time so much so that I for one only really notice  an ad when it pops out at me or gets in my way.  So how do the sites that we take for granted make money and pay for themselves. Somebody’s got to pay something. The answer could lie in a mix of smarter advertising delivering what the consumers want and the advertisers being available when  you’re looking for them. That’s the beauty of SEO and internet marketing, unless your product or service is brand new there will be potential customers already looking for the products or services you’re offering.

By moving advertising online a campaigns success can be measured exactly but this could prove detrimental to the websites that count on ad revenue as the advertisers realise that the traditional show and sell method doesn’t work anymore. With magazine and print advertising it’s less apparent how successful a campaign has been but with online its clear straight away how much you’ve spent and made in the short term. My worry is that advertisers will want more return on investment than they would with print media simply because they will have more awareness and statistics about their bottom line.  If online banner ads don’t deliver we could see less sites surviving for free and instead becoming more subscription based or letting ads compromise their content.

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