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In Defense of Advertising

[Side note: for people who linked here looking to advertise in the military sector, please see Defense Industry Daily's media kit.]

BlogAds: A Socialist Sysadmin's View of the Blogads 'Plague'

Henry Copeland, CEO of BlogAds, a company enabling webloggers to feature ads on their sites, has an amusing essay today in defense of advertising in response to some Socialist civil servant in England who rails against the ills of advertising in general and on weblogs in particular.

Said Socialist, named Steve Hooker, writes, "…I've always been against advertising. Just my socialist background finds them distasteful. It's whoever can spend enough money fooling people that their can of beans is best, not that that can is best for the person. Trickery, slight of hand, bending the truth, that's what ads are for."

Henry and I both lived in Budapest, Hungary for several years in the early '90s, so perhaps I should disclose that we're buddies. But living in Hungary freshly after it cast of decades of Socialism showed me first hand that, despite its glorious utopian ideals, the economics of Socialism just don't work.

I'd better check myself before I get into a long political rant, and besides I have other pressing work to do beside writing a screed. But I have done a bit of soul searching in recent years about what good I'm contributing to the world as a marketing consulting, and here's what I've boiled it down to. Foremost, I root for the media companies, because that's my own background. Ads fund media. Freedom of the press does not mean that the press should be revenue-free. Someone's gotta pay.

Moreover, I am also for competition in business. I've seen in Hungary what the quality of merchandise looks like when every shoe store was generically named "Shoe Store." (BTW, they've come a long way, Baby, and product and service quality has improved markedly there with more than a decade of capitalism under their belts by now. I'm talking here about 1990-92, when capitalism was still very raw there.) I may not root for McDonald's and cigarette manufacturers and car makers (whose damn ads seem like two out of three ads during prime time TV) when I think of ads, but to pick on BlogAds (which Mr. Hooker does) is ridiculous. BlogAds is all about the little guy, both publishers and sellers.

Moreover, I honestly do believe ads play a worthy role in the consumer's decision process. Customers are increasingly savvy enough to see through most of the "trickery, slight of hand, bending the truth." Give them a little credit. In fact, where I see the industry going in the future is increasingly towards what I refer to as "invertising" — ads that consumers seek out and opt to see, such as "advertainment" and "edutainment" (the ads on TiVo that people opt not to skip), search ads that correspond to users seeking out information, opt-in email retention programs, Ultramercials (e.g., Salon's free-pass for premium content in exchange for impactive ads), and so on.

Anyway, read Henry's essay. He thought it all through better than this.


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