Dr. Eric Clemons’ editorial Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet misses a couple of points.
Its focus on “consumers” is a bit narrow, given the segmentation possible on the web. Not everyone avoids or hates advertising when it actually provides useful information. People thinking of making a major purchase, for example, or specialists with technical purchasing decisions to make, are still likely to seek out ALL relevant sources of information, including specialized or technical advertising. Just because friends and colleagues are the most trusted sources doesn’t automatically make all advertising “untrustworthy.”
Actually, it sounds like Dr. Clemons dislikes advertising as much as I do, but I also don’t mind it when its relevant and when can actually seek it out when i need it.
One serious threat to online advertising, given the online world’s continued fascination with social media and relationship based channeling of information, is the potential for AI based intermediaries that cancel out message traffic. People are already using automated techniques to harvest links and Twitter relationships. There are also Twitter accounts that follow thousands of others; there’s just no way to manage and interact with such masses of conversation flow without ignoring a lot — or without enlisting automated techniques.
Soon the automated techniques used by A-listers will filter down to us mere mortals. Then we’ll all be able to easily manage multiple online personas, at which point the role of advertising will really be changed.
We’ll see even more of cat and mouse game than we have now with spam and anti-spam measures duking it out. Just as anti-virus and anti-spy measures require a never ending escalation of strike and counter strike, so too will AI based tools evolve that attempt to outwit individual barriers to advertising.
We will then reach the point where it becomes difficult if not impossible to distinguish between “real” and “artificial” online personalities. Imagine the advertising pricing algorithm that takes into account “the likelihood that any given address/URL/name on this list represents a living and breathing customer for the stuff you’re advertising.”
Even assuming the online advertiser can get past the gate at the end of the driveway that keeps the public off the estate, what’s to then guarantee that the house’s owner will be at home and be willing to take the call?
Copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D.