B-b-b-b-b-word crisis: is advertising spam?


Image: Adriana's B-word T-shirt
Image: Adriana's b-word t-shirt

I am sticking to my don’t-mention-the-b-word in January resolution, inspired by Mark Earls for the moment. B-b-b-b-b-but it’s very hard when Tom Hopkins et al start talking about the b-word crisis#mce_temp_url# and I want to blog about it.  It’s even harder when I contemplate recording an audio version of the B-Words in Networks e-book myself and the iCrossing team put out at the end of next year…

It’s even harder when I remember I have to record an audio version of the B-words in Networks e-book I published with iCrossing toward the end of last year… As I a wise man said, d’oh!


Image: Advertising or art?
Image: Advertising or art?


Anyhow, we’ll soldier on, quoting Tom and resorting to Watergate transcripts expletive deleted techniques where necessary… 

Today’s crisis in [expletive deleted] feels somewhat more intractable, although the response has been the same. The onslaught this time, of course, is coming from consumers retaking control over their media environment.

Clay Shirky today took an interesting viewpoint on twitter: “when someone asks ‘how does this social media stuff really scale?’ they really mean ‘how do I become a spammer?’.

Was mass meida advertising SPAM? I think Russell Davies’ analysis is the clearest discussion of this I’ve read: advertising is tolerated when it is part of a value exchange; everything else is SPAM.

Russell Davies’ analysis is, unsurprisingly, spot on. And Clay Shirky’s Twittist reductionism is sweet, sweet truth… 

Russell thinks about the ad-spam issue outside of just web display ads too, looking at the proliferation of logos and ads slapped on to anything and everything. As digital media merges with the physical world, this will become an even greater issue. 

Ooh, ooh, there's a bit of building without an ad on it!

Celebrated in the marketing press often, these “guerilla”, “ambient” tactics are celebrated in the marketing and media blogs and publications, but as Russell puts it “one person’s fun is another’s spam”. He continues: 

And this matters for a couple of reasons. (Probably also obvious) Firstly, because living in Bladerunner brought to you by Cillit Bang would be horrible, just as a person. Secondly, because I think it actually makes for counter-productive marketing. Annoying your potential customers in more and more places is not a useful strategy for businesses.

Or one day we may go a guerilla digital ad too far and get regulated into the ground, like Sao Paolo? And then someone can make an ad about the ad-lessness… Ah, what an industry…

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