The Evolution and Decline of Advertising

The other night I was watching Covert Affairs, a spy show (with women!) on USA Network.  This year, the network or producers decided to eliminate the opening credits to squeeze a few more commercials.  In the past, opening credits could make a show.  Think Hawaii 5.0.  How about Star Trek?  China Beach? (Which is out on video this year at last, intact music-wise).

One of the problems is that ads are becoming increasingly ineffective.  It used to be that advertising targeted younger people because if the vendors got brand loyalty at that age, they’d have a customer for life.  Now the bombardment of ads seems to be killing off sales, and social media has definitely turned marketers directionless.  I watch writers all the time who send out a tweet that says “Buy my book.”  They send it out multiple times because that’s the old marketing guidance — repetition, just like a commercial.  Not only does it not work, they run the risk of getting hammered or reported as a spammer.

Now we have advertising masquerading as news articles:

Now the new rage is “native advertising,” which is to say advertising wearing the uniform of journalism, mimicking the storytelling aesthetic of the host site.

One of the dangers of that is that it may destroy the news magazines.  They’re already suffering problems from readers being able to trust them, and having something that looks like news writing may destroy that trust.  Once trust is destroyed, it’s darn near impossible to get back.

And the advertising will continue to spread.  I think in the future publishers may start plopping advertising in books.  Like you’re reading along in your ereader, and it forces you to look at this ad and acknowledge before you can move along.  Just like on websites that dim the pages and make you click ‘cancel’ on the ad before you can go on (National Geographic, do you hear me?). Of course, if the advertising does come into books, the publishers still won’t reduce the costs for the consumer.

We can’t even tune into TV shows any more without obtrusive advertising dancing across the screen. What’s going to be the impact if this happens in books?  What would your reaction be if you saw advertising dancing across the page of your book?

2 thoughts on “The Evolution and Decline of Advertising

  1. I have to say these are some brilliant points, Linda. And, a constant worry of ours. It’s a heady situation because we’re taught to sell ourselves, but I worry that too much seems desperate and a cry that reads “Buy me! Buy me! Because they’re not selling as well as I thought they would.” As for putting ads in ereaders? We pray it never comes to that as we feel it would dissuade readers from finishing a novel. I would be highly irritated if an ad came up while I’m waist deep in a novel with my head in the story. We’re all for consumerism, but when is it enough? And, who says when it is? Great post!


    1. Unfortunately, the more we start tuning out the ads, the more ads were see and the more places they turn up. It’s a vicious cycle. Advertisers even experimented with putting them in public bathrooms.


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