We have lost faith in advertising (if we ever had any)

We have, by and large, stopped believing in advertising. Why is that?

It is because we are sick of being lied to by advertisers. Shampoos which ‘nourish’ our hair? Now with added ‘citrus technology’? Hair is composed of dead cells. You can’t nourish dead cells.

We are being bombarded by lie-vertising and we have learned to tune it out.

I was in Seville over the Christmas break and one day, while walking down the Carretera Carmona, I saw the following ad on the side of a building site advertising the apartments being built, for sale:
Apartments for sale!

Notice the “Calidades de Primera” screaming out in ALL CAPS! Loosely that translates as Premium Quality. Yeah, right. You see that on a sign and immediately you become suspicious.

What made it all the more obvious was that not 10m away was another sign on an adjacent building site. This time though, I would be prepared to believe that these apartments are of a reasonable quality. Why? Because they don’t feel the need to say so!

More Apartments for sale

One of the big advantages of Social Media is that they are extremely transparent. You simply cannot get away with lying in a blog or podcast. You will be found out and your reputation will suffer.

Advertisers are looking enviously at the trust afforded bloggers wondering “How can I get some of that credibility?”

20 thoughts on “We have lost faith in advertising (if we ever had any)”

  1. My dear old dad, who was a very quiet-spoken architect, used to say to me back in the 1980s:

    “Never buy a house from a development that is described as ‘luxury,’ ‘prestige’ or ‘exclusive.’

    I saw a billboard the other day with all three terms on it …

    Sigh.

  2. I actually read somewhere that the average new yorker sees 5,000 ads a day. And they say New York has a graffiti problem. If I had a choice I would much prefer to see the graffiti than all those ads.

  3. Tom:
    This is Spain – we do things differently. Especially in the Autonomous State of Andalucia.

    Seriously – do you see Google ads surrounding your email? I don’t. I ‘tuned out’ a long time ago…

  4. I’d reckon that a lot of this has to do with an almost continental separation between the individuals doing the business and the individuals doing the advertising.

    Aside from being Web2.0 poster children, the recent thread on 37signals blog http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/307-what-do-you-want-to-know had a little piece about how they hired a PR firm but gave up after 3 months – all the 37signals advertising is written by them and all the words they use chosen carefully in accordance with their product.

    The greatest advert for any business is a great product. I think the Irish are very slow to pick up on this – I’ve been coming across so many services recently that are being hailed as revolutionary, but are so behind the times in terms of service. Transport in Dublin (and here) as well as shoddy eCommerce services are two examples of services where the advertising and the service are simply not part of the same business ecosystem.

  5. “The greatest advert for any business is a great product” but if there are 30 or 300 similar products on the market? Will you as a company manager wait until somebody accidentally will find you or will you advertise your product? And what if you just started your business and nobody knows about you?

    And in the end of the day there will be only some people like you who will resist to by. Others will remember good things which they saw or heard and that will help them to choose in favour of advertised product. [In advertising logic is not important, important are emotions. And it’s not important if you like the ad or not, important is that it works.]

  6. Will you as a company manager wait until somebody accidentally will find you or will you advertise your product? And what if you just started your business and nobody knows about you?

    Liga – start a blog. Blogs are far cheaper and are much more cost effective and trusted then advertising.

  7. Imagine you are producing shampoo. I am not sure that average houswife will read your blog

    I disagree completely Liga. The average housewife might not read your blog if you blog about shampoo, sure. But what if you blog about hair care tips. Every woman is interested in the health of her hair. That would very likely work.

    The idea is to blog about something which will be compelling to your target market.

    Don’t just blog either. Podcast or videocast too.

    The possibilities are endless. The price tag is low and the trust meter is off the wall!

  8. I like your thinking! (really)

    I agree that it would be nicer instead of annoying advertising read a couple of blogs containing nice tips wich will help you in day to day life. And now – we have 55 shampoo producers, they all have blogs with tips, suggestions, recipes. A lot of them are targeting the same niche and have similar content. What next? To advertise their blogs? 🙂

  9. And now – we have 55 shampoo producers, they all have blogs with tips, suggestions, recipes. A lot of them are targeting the same niche and have similar content. What next? To advertise their blogs?

    Liga – the beauty of blogs/podcasts/vidcasts/etc. is that you don’t need to advertise them. The 55 producer’s content will naturally differentiate along lines of content and quality.

    The best will rise to the top naturally either virally or via recommendation engines. This is already happening with blogs, podcasts and with the millions of videos uploaded to the likes of YouTube.

  10. Liga, I think you raise an interesting question. I’d rephrase it though.

    If you spent $20m on advertising and put up a very lame blog, then all your sales are going to come from the advertising obviously.

    So, if you say which gives the better return on investment, blogs or traditional advertising – there is no question that the answer is blogs.

  11. It would be nice to chat with you by the cup of tea or pint of Guiness if you would happen to be in Galway 🙂

  12. I see that Liga is not resting her case 🙂

    So, if you say which gives the better return on investment, blogs or traditional advertising – there is no question that the answer is blogs.

    Tom, can you point to some well known survey that confirms this? It is easy to say “there is no question”, but people who are making business decisions and are not passionate bloggers themselves will want a proof.

    If there were no question at all then why do companies spend more investment on traditional advertising than on blogs? Do they lack business sense?

  13. It would be nice to chat with you by the cup of tea or pint of Guiness if you would happen to be in Galway

    Sounds delightful Liga – I’ll take you up on that next time I’m in Galway.

    Tom, can you point to some well known survey that confirms this? It is easy to say “there is no question”, but people who are making business decisions and are not passionate bloggers themselves will want a proof.

    I can’t point to any surveys Uldis but I can give you a couple of examples. How much did Skype spend on advertising? Or Firefox? Or Google? Or more recently Joost?

    Nothing. Zero. Zip. All became incredible successes simply through blogs and viral marketing.

    If there were no question at all then why do companies spend more investment on traditional advertising than on blogs? Do they lack business sense?

    No, I think they are simply uninformed.

    By the way, I wouldn’t recommend abandoning traditional advertising completely. It may be necessary for some companies. It needs to be looked at carefully and the decision made on a per case basis.

  14. “I can’t point to any surveys Uldis but I can give you a couple of examples. How much did Skype spend on advertising? Or Firefox? Or Google? Or more recently Joost?”

    Tom, everything you mentioned here are online/ computer based products. But what about real world material products which I can touch, smell etc.? Will it work for them too?

    “By the way, I wouldn’t recommend abandoning traditional advertising completely. It may be necessary for some companies. It needs to be looked at carefully and the decision made on a per case basis.”

    Now I am happy! 🙂

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