Why Traditional Marketing Bores Me Now And Why I Have Become Addicted To Internet Marketing


I live in Manhattan but my heart is Madison Avenue. I am not young so I remember the Mad Men era. In those days of the “Big Idea,” creative was king. Media was just accounting.

Now it is upside-down. Media has been thoroughly de-centralized. The big three networks have long since decomposed into hundreds of cable channels. Streaming internet has added more media bandwidth off TV and onto devices. Print continues its evaporation with the biggest traditional players frantically trying to decipher the secret recipe for survival — free print versions and paid digital? Or paid print versions and paid digital with premium content? But the slide is irreversible with most written content consumed digitally and for free.

Where’s the Beef?

Madison Avenue’s clients still are buying the Big Idea. But they all want a side dish of new media to make them feel relevant. After all, their future customers don’t watch TV, except maybe on Hulu. And the big clients who are buying traditional TV spots and full pages in print publications are still actually just doing what we all know works–buying market share.

So what really moved the product back in the bad old days? Was it the Big Idea? Or was it Media all along? Was it always just a numbers game? So maybe the emperor had no clothes. But it was fun.

Mikey Likes It!

Proctor and Gamble are known as the best consumer marketing corporation for world has ever seen. And they have never fallen for the Big Idea. They knew success was in the numbers. It was a bloodless position to take but one could not argue with their outcomes.

Yes, Virgina, it is a numbers game. Repeating a message (strategy statement) enough times (impressions) results in trial (purchase or action).  It’s a fact. You can move the needle with creative MAYBE. But you can move the needle FOR SURE by buying market share.

Time To Make The Donuts

So now I am a sad old fart. I have lost my first love. I loved advertising and I really BELIEVED in the Big Idea and BELIEVED that one could capture the imagination of a prospect and change the way he or she felt about a brand and excite them into action. I had such insight into humanity. I was a genius.

But then there was a shift. The real excitement was increasingly on the “accounting” side, the bean-counting media side that had turned into a revolution through the decentralization of every form of media. In this new world, the big media players were buying media on a grandmother’s blog through Google Adsense and reaching out to millions of narrowly-targeted demographics through Facebook. The “creative” was not driving their budgets or reaching their customers. Internet marketing was actually delivering what cable had promised decades ago–the ability to target your message as precisely as an address.  The cable industry never could make good on their promise to narrow-cast ads on a household-by-household basis. But the internet did. And that, as they say, was that.  And because it is targeted, it is more effective and that makes it cheaper (it takes less to make it work).

That’s a Spicy Meatball

So each year up on Madison Avenue (wherever that is these days) the big advertisers slice up their budget with less going into traditional media buys and more into digital media buys.  Every year.  At some point this shift is going to totally change broadcast TV. But I don’t care. That’s not what interests me.

What interests me is how to use internet marketing. Just like computers became more “friendly” and now we all can pretty much be producing like computer experts, the internet marketing world has also become increasingly manageable. Internet Marketing has called out to me with its siren song, and has me getting excited about all the ways a humble but motivated practitioner could drive traffic–internet traffic–to…wherever.

It’s the Real Thing

The media cheese has moved. It is no longer necessary or even desirable to use traditional media. Ever. Any prospect can be targeted through new media and for cheap.

So now I feel too big for my britches. I cannot not be bothered by crafting clever, funny, insightful creative ads for clients. Instead I want to be a Media Mogul. Instead of living and dying over consumer buying habits, I can look down from my perch as a Titan of Traffic, watering the desert of commerce with my digital media systems. This seems like a real business. That “creative” work now seems like a teenage distraction. What WAS I THINKING?

And I should be able to figure out how to at least pay the rent, right?????

Don’t Squeeze the Charmin

So now I shall put one foot in front of the other, faster and faster,  and run into the Internet Marketing waves. And you can watch.

Or jump in with me.