Throughout this period there have been intelligent, successful people who have disagreed with me vehemently. In fact, almost the entire advertising and marketing industry seems to disagree.*
It has been very confusing for me trying to understand why otherwise intelligent, perceptive people don't see what I see.
- They know they never click on banner ads.
- They know that 95% of their purchases -- the peanut butter and gasoline and milk and socks and cereal and tires -- have never been influenced by a web ad.
- They know they ignore the invisible ads on Facebook.
- They know they pay no attention to "branded content."
Then it struck me. They don't know. They are unaware of their own behavior.
The "aha" moment came when I was re-reading a quote from The Economist that I used here a few weeks ago in a piece about the supposed death of television. Here's what the Economist had to say...
"....one of the oddest and most consistent findings of television research: that people seem unaware of their own behaviour. In surveys they almost always underestimate how much television they watch, and greatly overstate the extent to which they watch video in any other form."I think this is what is going on in the advertising and marketing industry regarding online ads.
The data are irrefutable. We do not click on display ads. We do not notice banners. The only ad medium on the web we use consistently is Google.
But we are so swamped with hype about online advertising that we seem to have become blind to our own behavior.
We spend a crazy amount of time on the web reading all about our pet interests -- computers and travel and cars and restaurants. But we are seemingly unaware of the fact that web advertising has virtually no influence on the vast majority of things we buy every day.
As in so many aspects of life, we think we know what we're doing, but we don't.
*Although since I wrote this post, Sir Martin Sorrell has come out and said he thinks Facebook is a lousy advertising medium. Maybe I'm not the only idiot.