iAds will revolutionize online advertising, but are digital agencies up to the task?
We have been struggling in online advertising for more than a decade, and although this new medium provided unfettered access to information, the desire was to continue the tradition established by traditional media -- essentially making access to information remain relatively free.
Unfortunately, while the prospect of more individualized metrics enabled by the internet did come to fruition, it didn't translate into better advertising. Instead it reduced it to the "quantitative" in such a droll fashion that the majority of online advertising became reduced to "pinch the monkey," "squeeze the baby," "click here," "learn more," and "please click this fracking banner so I can justify my existence!"
For years, I have railed against banner ads online, I have illuminated the barriers to digital as an impactful medium for advertising, and I have chided our entire industry for being the uncreative lepers of advertising, slinging drivel at consumers. We are a medium that is neither immersive, experiential, nor adored by consumers.
The internet is not a medium -- devices that connect to it are the medium. The medium had always defined the ad model, until the internet. We have long been throwing stuff at the wall to see if it would stick, and unfortunately what did stick was abhorrent: banners, interstitials, inline advertising, spam. It all -- for lack of a better word -- sucks. Seriously though, we have reduced the consumer computer experience to the blinky blinky, click here, invasive tactics that only seek to take users away from the content they want, and it has neither been effective nor conscious of the consumer.
It was metrics -- what we could measure -- that drove the creative. And that, my friends, was where we went wrong.
"The medium is the message." -- Marshall McLuhan
What internet advertising did not do was deliver a format worthy of the various places it inhabits. In a magazine, the ads don't jump out and annoy me. But like an ADHD child pulling for attention, we created ad formats online that were bad, sometimes awful, and then codified them into standards.
It wasn't all our fault, though. The internet web page medium itself was fraught with so much freedom that it became like nailing Jell-O to a wall. And unfortunately for us, that has meant chaos in online advertising -- until the recent unveiling of Apple's iAd platform.
There have been a few glimmers of potential in internet advertising in the past. However, with iAds, for the first time the medium itself has presented a format that seeks to enable deeper communication. A format that can be immersive, integrated with rich metrics, and the benefit of context. It's a format that in many ways is more of an application than an ad. Here's why.
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