Will advertising become obsolete?

What does Seth Godin think of advertising? Is it unnecessary? Here is his answer from a blog post at Real Time Advertising Week

“Not unnecessary. Gradually becoming obsolete, though. The cost of the ads goes up, the impact goes down. How can it not? Once people get a TiVo and a Facebook account, the way they allocate their attention changes. And that means the people you most want to reach don’t necessarily want to be reached.”

His answer has been on my mind since I read it. Advertising is “gradually becoming obsolete?” How does someone who works at a company that runs on advertising revenue react to such a statement? A few possibles:

  • Seth Godin is a smart guy and he’s been right more than he’s been wrong so we’re fucked
  • He’s right but it’s going to take a lot longer than he thinks it will
  • He’s partially right. Some advertising is becoming obsolete, but not the advertising that drives our company
  • Advertising is changing and we might call it something else but companies will always be willng to pay to to reach their customers with selling messages
  • He’s wrong. Advertising is here to stay. Period.

Did I miss any?

Frankly, to even wonder about this feels… heretical. Like questioning the flatness of the earth. I’ve written ads; I’ve voiced and produced ads; I’ve helped sell ads. Always taking it as a matter of faith that they worked. If they didn’t, why are businesses buying all these commercials we air on our (pick your medium)? And that they’d always be around.

Your thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Will advertising become obsolete?

  1. Good points all. Perhaps what _could_ become obsolete, is bad or irrelevant ads. I love the Apple ads but hate the Furniture Factory Outlet ads. Those are wasted on me. It’s the old saw, “I know that half of my advertising works… I just don’t know which half.” Thanks for visiting the blog.

  2. I just completed an Advertising and Promotions class for my BS at Columbia College. Based on this course, and my experience working closely with advertising revenue… I draw the conclusion that advertising will NEVER become obsolete, although it is undeniably changing.
    To become obsolete means that it will not be in general use anymore or that it will fall into disuse. To think that this is a possibility for advertising seems absurd to me. I feel most consumer’s typically want to be reached, sometimes as badly as advertising wants to reach them because they prefer to be informed. Without advertising, how would customer’s make informed purchasing decisions? Everyone these days wants’ the latest and the greatest, and advertising allows them stay in touch with these products. Would people even know how to function without advertising? I mean if you really think about it, people have been subject to, affected by and relied on advertising for their entire lives. For example, just yesterday my 4-year old son brought to my attention a small spider in his room and requested that I “squish” him. When the spider was safely flushed down the toilet, my son informed me “You have a bug problem. You should call Steve’s Pest Control, Mom. They take care of bug problems (I saw it on TV).” Even at a very young age, we have been groomed to depend on advertising to be informed.
    Although I do think that advertising is swiftly changing, or maybe even shifting would be a better word. Internet advertising grows massively every single day, and even more specifically social media advertising. The benefits that companies can gain from this sort of advertising were reiterated strongly in my course. I think that companies will always advertise where they see it beneficial to do so. The onset of TiVo and other DVR’s, along with the social media craze can very likely hurt the world of television advertising and possibly even shift more of the advertising budgets towards the internet and away from other mediums as well. But will advertising, or any advertising medium become obsolete? I don’t think so.

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