More “future is bleak” news from Jeff Jarvis
I really admire Jeff Jarvis. Not only is he wise, he single handedly launched the term “Dell Hell”, writing about his frustrations with Dell Customer Service.
I really admire Jeff Jarvis. Not only is he wise, he single handedly launched the term “Dell Hell”, writing about his frustrations with Dell Customer Service. In a long post recently, he reflects on Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario 2.0
Here’s Jeff’s take:
Garfield argues that marketers have new ways to do their business directly with customers that no longer require advertising. He warns of “the post-advertising age.”
This is fundamental and important. In media, we have long argued that a new medium does not replace the old one and that ad spending may shift around in new mixes but do not decrease. No more. Now marketers and customers can have their transactions and conversations directly. That is to say, we the customers can get the information we want about products straight from sellers and the more that happens, the less those sellers need to waste money on giving us messages we did not ask for and do not want (aka, advertising). The more that happens, the less money they will spend on ads. Total ad spending will, indeed, decline.
That horrible crashing sound you hear is a gravy train derailing.
Media — news and entertainment — have long been supported by advertising and by the faith that even though it may be a zero-sum game, at least there were billions of dollars of support there for the earning. And profitability for those who got those dollars was very high because of scarcity: scarce space, scarce time, and now scarce consumers. What if there is less? What happens in post-scarcity world? What happens to the media economy? What happens to us?
I’d say that depends on who the “us” is. If it’s big, expensive, monopolistic, overpriced media giants — TV networks, TV studios, radio companies, newspaper companies — they are guaranteed to shrink radically and rapidly. They are screwed. But if “us” is new, small guys who are not addicted to big production luxuries — for whom the definition of big enough is many, many times smaller — there is still plenty to go around — but only if, again, we have the infrastructure in place to make it make it easy for advertisers to support us. We little guys are stuck in Chaos 1.0; we’re not ready for the advertisers. The big guys are stuck in Chaos 2.0; they’re seeing advertisers find better alternatives. And if we’re all not careful, the pie will, in fact, shrink. That’s new.
I’d argue that the “small guys” are ready, they just don’t know it. The billions of dollars for marketing will still be around; it will just be looking for other places to exist. Instead of one $3 million dollar SuperBowl commercial, for example, you might see 30,000 $1000 commercials made to run on very small, influential, niche blogs, for example.
This post originally appeared on Campbell Ewald’s discontinued “The Next Engine” blog.