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Why Television Advertising Can Still Work

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing how the traditional advertising model is broken. But people still spend a lot of money on it, so what’s going on?

Mostly I’ve argued that the broadcast model of advertising is insanely inefficient: Throwing ideas out to a sea of random people in hopes of getting the attention of those who are actually interested in your product or service.

I watched this commercial for job search site that illustrates my point:

Though I’m not in the market for a job and I had no idea what the piece was advertising as it began, it caught my attention enough to watch it and then search for it online. It caught my attention because it’s funny. But because I was multitasking while I watched it, when it was over I knew it was for The Ladders, but I didn’t know what exactly The Ladders was. So I searched for it.

Before Google and online video that worked, I wouldn’tve searched for it. So at least TV advertising has that going for it. Before that, it would’ve taken three or more viewings before the full message would take hold.

The Ladders commercial is a “successful” example of traditional television advertising. It caught and held my attention enough to engage me to search for it online and by doing so ensured that I was familiar enough with the ad that I knew the product: The Ladders, a career site for jobs paying $100k or more. As a branding exercise, it was a successful, if expensive campaign.

I’m not likely to use The Ladders any time soon, as I’m guessing most of the people who watched it on TV won’t as well. But at the same time, the ad no doubt did reach likely current customers and planted the seed with potential future customers.

The only problem, in the online age of authenticity, transparency, and direct marketing, it goes against the culture.

The ad depends upon a deception: Though pleasantly, it nevertheless tricks me into paying attention to a message in which I currently have no interested. And because of that it certainly has none of the efficiency of direct marketing.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

6 Comments

  1. shishir on January 7, 2009 at 10:32 00 am CST

    I feel that traditional advertisement modes have taken birth at their respective era as they need them at that time but one must continuously try to explore current scenario and new modes for them to best fit.
    I have a strong feeling against the traditional views as i have written it in my blog in sections
    “leader follower and me”
    “An open world after all….”



  2. shishir on January 7, 2009 at 5:32 12 am CST

    I feel that traditional advertisement modes have taken birth at their respective era as they need them at that time but one must continuously try to explore current scenario and new modes for them to best fit.
    I have a strong feeling against the traditional views as i have written it in my blog in sections
    “leader follower and me”
    “An open world after all….”



  3. miko on March 11, 2009 at 3:19 00 am CDT

    You talk about the success of this ad based on how it was made while ignoring the reactions of almost everyone I know. It portrays anyone not making 100k+ as little bumbling idiots. If that weren’t bad enough, when the “successful” monster comes along, it destroys everything in it’s path, buildings, cars, people.
    This is one of the poorest made ads I’ve ever seen because it will never reach the target audience and it pisses off everyone else.
    And if you’re at all curious as to my perspective, I work in the city at a 110k+ job. We laugh at this ad every time it comes up.
    Out. Of. Touch.



  4. miko on March 10, 2009 at 10:19 16 pm CDT

    You talk about the success of this ad based on how it was made while ignoring the reactions of almost everyone I know. It portrays anyone not making 100k+ as little bumbling idiots. If that weren’t bad enough, when the “successful” monster comes along, it destroys everything in it’s path, buildings, cars, people.
    This is one of the poorest made ads I’ve ever seen because it will never reach the target audience and it pisses off everyone else.
    And if you’re at all curious as to my perspective, I work in the city at a 110k+ job. We laugh at this ad every time it comes up.
    Out. Of. Touch.



  5. Salena White on November 5, 2009 at 7:16 00 pm CST

    I found this commercial offensive…………only 100k+ talent? So if you’re an average Joe, you don’t deserve to be making 100k, or is it don’t bother even trying cause you’ll get trampled by an 100k worker?



  6. Salena White on November 5, 2009 at 2:16 06 pm CST

    I found this commercial offensive…………only 100k+ talent? So if you’re an average Joe, you don’t deserve to be making 100k, or is it don’t bother even trying cause you’ll get trampled by an 100k worker?



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