The End of Advertising As We Know It by Michael Wolff postulates that as more and more advertising moves to digital media, there will be less and less awareness and brand-based advertising. Digital media has proven to be very good for “moving the cash register closer to the customer” but not very good at creating desire through brand building, says Wolff. And our ability to avoid ads on TV, either through DVR or subscription fees, means fewer eyeballs are available for those brand-building ads to make their impact.
So is Wolff right? Is the wolf at the door for advertising agencies who are good at the big idea that tells a story (versus those best at click and buy)? Not so fast. Yes, there is a sea change occurring, yes, we have to get better at all forms of advertising, yes measurability is a good thing. But that shift doesn’t mean we’re different kinds of human beings. We still want our emotions touched, our hearts moved, and our spirits engaged. We need both the bean counters who micro-target people and test a/b versions of calls to action, and the storytellers who can make you fall in love with products.
Because without getting someone’s attention first, your demand and lead generation tactics will fail; and when campaigns don’t run TV ads, sales on the web go down. Even if TV isn’t very measurable (hence in the new paradigm, useless), you can measure sales. As Bob Hoffman, blogging under The Ad Contrarian, says: “If the message is right, who cares what screen people see it on? If the message is wrong, what difference does it make?” And as Old Spice demonstrated, a good idea can revive a dying brand. Let’s not forget those hunky guy ads started as TV ads!