Letters, April 6, 2009

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Advertising is dead and no one cares

RE: "Future May Be Brighter, but It's Apocalypse Now" (AA, March 23). What I'm surprised at is that everyone is so shocked that people don't think advertising is worth paying for anymore. Here's a news flash: It never was. In the olden days of network TV and print, consumers tolerated advertising because it paid for content -- in a way that was largely hidden from them. And because there was no alternative.

Once that stricture was removed, presto! Nobody looks at advertising, because we don't have to! What a surprise. We still want content. Hell, we'll look at anything. In fact, we're so crazy about content, someone will pay billions to deliver it, even if most of it is nonsense (i.e., YouTube and 500 or so cable channels). But that's not the answer, either.

The inescapable fact is that we don't want to see 10,000 advertising messages a day in exchange for getting a few minutes of news or entertainment anymore. And who could blame us? Remember that line, "I know half my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half"? Well the answer is in, and it's both.

Need more proof the world needs to be turned upside down? Turn off your DVR and sit through a four-hour-long golf tournament with its hour-and-a-half worth of ads for erectile-dysfunction treatments. Please. The sky is indeed falling, and it's about time. So let's stop wringing our hands about it. Instead, let's create great content, relentlessly, and ask people to pay for it. And while we're at it, let's invent some new ways to talk people into buying our stuff that are interesting enough and honest enough to get people to look at it on their own merits.

Frank Priscaro
Menlo Park, Calif.

New domain names could come in handy

Would new internet domains, such as .soda or .auto, be good for marketers?

If a .soda could potentially help categorize content and even bring an inherent level of credibility to companies, the results could mirror what companies under existing domains, such as .edu, .gov, and .org benefit from today.

Nicole Johnson
Director of digital strategy
Medicus Life Brands
New York

Don't overlook integrated shops

Re: "Shops Seek Control in Social-Media Space" (AA, March 2). I found this article highly relevant and timely. But what struck me most was the fact that Abbey Klaassen declared that one of three types of agencies were poised to take the leadership within the social-media realm -- PR agencies, media agencies and/or digital agencies.

Although I have a somewhat biased view, I believe that there is another type of agency that is the most equipped to help clients leverage the fast and ever-changing social-media landscape -- the larger, integrated, independent agencies. My rationale stems from the fact that there are so many pieces to the puzzle when delivering successful social-media programs.

While any of the agency types Ms. Klaassen mentions, with the right strategic and creative thinkers in place, would certainly have the capability to conceive smart, social-media-driven programs -- they would all almost certainly need to bring in other partners or outsource certain aspects of the program. That can become problematic when it comes time to quickly react to consumer feedback or to a certain aspect of the program that is working well -- or not.

The elements of successful social-media programs include all of those that the article mentions -- digital, PR and media (although I would rank traditional media toward the bottom in importance). But other skill sets are equally important, including creativity, content development, business intelligence and one-to-one communication skills (isn't social media the ultimate one-to-one conversation?).

While specialized agencies will continue to play an important role, social media blurs the lines like never before, and agencies that deliver holistic thinking as a natural way of working are poised to lead the way.

Rick Gardinier
Chief digital officer


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