I have been researching things to put in the download section of this site, and found in the Digital Attic (aka Google) an article I wrote in 1995 predicting the Death of Advertising.  Now that we are seeing it happen, in print and in less 0bvious ways in online services, this may seem clever stuff (not just a Worlock but a Wizard too!).  Pause, though, gentle reader: in 25 years of writing about the digital marketplace I have predicted the Death of most things, so I am bound to get a few right – you should see me on the death of the novel, the death of copyright etc etc.

However, in 1995 I did not need to say what happened next, since no-one at all believed the first assertion.  Now a great many go as far as the first claim, but then we all stop dead.  What next?  For a time it seemed as if lead generation would fill the revenue gap.  Maybe the function of promotions and listings is simply to produce a qualified marketplace. Well, arguably it is, but people like Jeff Jarvis seem to be arguing that if we produce real community in the network then community members will sell to each other – and far more effectively than current advertisers.  So advertising and sponsorship become pure exercises in brand promotion, and are required a lot less.  If we really want to sell our organic muesli to the health conscious middle class, we have to find where they gather en masse, and then promote the idea by product placement or community agencies.

But first we need to know where our brand resonates and in what communities.  Look at www.media6degrees.com, and I think you are looking at a prototype for doing just that.  Then there is something called the 33Across SocialDNA platform: the idea here is that you identify existing customers and then “identify and anonymously target people with strong real world connections” to those existing customers.  The science of risk management turns inside out to become the art of customer identification.  European privacy commissars shudder, but check out an interesting article on this company at www.adexchanger.com.  And then look at LotameCC , the oldest player in this game (founded in 2006), which captures social media data like blog postings to create what they are kind enough to call “the data driven future of advertising”.

And that is the issue really – the things we are fiddling around with currently change advertising by narrowing its focus, making it less obtrusive, making it more predictive, getting better results with less effort/spend  etc.  And what we want is not advertising, but a way of getting sales messages to people who want those messages.  Something tells me that we are not there yet, but meanwhile the efforts being made are deeply interesting.


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