Online Advertising is Dead?

August 17, 2009

The claims are that online advertising is failing, and as far as numbers are concerned – it very well could be. There is not a definite answer as to when advertising was first instituted for financial gain, but some say it was in the 1400’s when paper handouts the size of a large postcard were distributed to those passing by places of business. As any new business idea, I’m sure the concept had its critics and only through time and advancements in the technology to produce such advertising did it start to make sense and its benefits became noticeable. Such is the case with online advertising. Traditional advertising in print is arguably 600 years old (1), television advertising has a 68 year history and internet advertising is the first major disruptor since the first sponsored television broadcast in 1941 (2).

Eric Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania states, “my basic premise,” that the ad industry will create a model that will replace traditional ads in traditional media “rejects this, suggesting that simple commercial messages, pushed through whatever medium, in order to reach a potential customer who is in the middle of doing something else, will fail. It’s not that we no longer need information to initiate or to complete a transaction; rather, we will no longer need advertising to obtain that information. We will see the information we want, when we want it, from sources that we trust more than paid advertising” (3). This statement embodies the foundational success of the internet and the key to advertisings rise or fall on the web: choice.

Agency to pick what we trust and consume is why the internet has “killed” traditional media as we know it. The ability to establish a URL’s offering as trustworthy takes time, just as it did with print and broadcast advertising. A brands following and their ability to become an “influencer” in the digital media space is said to be a large contributing factor to the brands success on the internet. Leigh Anne Dunkin has identified influence as one of the hardest things to measure on the internet and given some solid ideas on how to get started (4).

This understanding is why I feel that online advertising still has relevancy and a chance to become the next major distribution channel for advertising dollars. Is 20 years enough time to rule out a technology that is ever-evolving since its conception? Can we rule online advertising the main suspect of killing print and television advertising while Clemons claims it has already failed, and before there is another technology to knock it off the top of so many advertising budgets? It has always been a general rule of business advertising to never put your eggs in one basket, whether in distribution or with the firm who creates the content for distribution. This rule is ever more important to remember as one creates their budget, and that they understand they are participating in a distribution model that is still a babe when compared to the lifespan of other traditional medias. Don’t abandon the newest technology before a replacement has even arrived.



One Response to “Online Advertising is Dead?”

  1. Kirsty Clegg said

    Hello, my name is Kirsty Clegg and I am a 3rd year Advertising & Marketing Communications student from Bournemouth University. I need to recruit consumers who show a vested interest in the following areas; online advertising, Coca – Cola online, Branded Content and online power of consumer.
    Consequently these are the search terms I used to find your blog and am therefore keen to talk to you. This research is for my dissertation and so imperative to my degree.
    Firstly, if you would be interested in airing your opinions about said areas please take a couple of minutes to fill out this questionnaire ( simply to determine if your demographics fit with my research.
    I would be incredibly grateful if you can take the time out to help with this, feel free to find me through my wordpress (
    Yours sincerely,

    Kirsty Clegg

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