When Advertising meets The Because Effect

Given the incredible materialism that passes for Christmas nowadays, I thought it would be appropriate to signal my somewhat timorous return with a random post about advertising.

I’ve always enjoyed Kathy Sierra’s blog, Creating Passionate Users. If you haven’t read it, you should. While there are many reasons to read her blog, one of the minor reasons I liked it was her use of what appeared to be 1950s and early 1960s “advertising” illustrations.


And that got me thinking. As we move to an age where the only true advertisements are recommendations, what is the role of the traditional advertisement going forward?

Recommendations I understand. They can come in many shapes and forms. People you know and trust telling you about products and services they like. A Long Tail aggregation from an anonymous population using collaborative filtering. A Wisdom Of Crowds thing where individual ratings are averaged out. A matching engine that takes your “buying” intentions and connects them with someone else’s “selling” intentions. And and and.

But what about advertisements? What possible role could they play? Despite seeing every man and his dog have an advertisement-based business model, I just couldn’t understand it. Somewhere inside me my Emperor’s-New-Clothes-Alarm kept going off.

Maybe we’re going to start time-shifting ads. Maybe the next generation of set-top boxes will allow you to set your preferences (which decade you’d like, what kind of goods or services, which region, what language, colour or not, average size, et cetera). Then, once your preferences are set (and of course you can amend them whenever) some sort of collaborative filter gets used to pump out the ads you want to see. Where you want to see them. When you want to see them.

Maybe these ads will be downloaded on to your set-top box as part of the installation process.

Have ads become a form of entertainment already? I wonder. And if so, can we have company A sponsor vintage ads put out by company B? Will there be a plethora of copyright and trade mark nonsense to follow?

It could be fun. When people realise that advertising has moved from With to Because. [If you want to know more about the Because Effect, take a look at this and this.]

3 thoughts on “When Advertising meets The Because Effect”

  1. Couldn’t advertisement just be useful ? i.e. IMHO: informative, precise, concise; and then -OK- tailored to my declared interests/ needs etc… Makes you think what new forms the agencies would have to invent to fit that bill.

  2. I wonder if the two strands are connected and most clearly so at this time of year. The fortunate majority in many countries have pretty much everything they need and I think increasingly realise this. Perhaps that implies that all advertising becomes interruptive (including adsense) except when we actively seek to purchase something (and I don’t believe that a Google search automatically connotes a desire to purchase).

    The future that is one in which agencies and marketing directors acknowledge the reality and accept that advertising must revert to its role as one element of marketing rather than the pre-eminent one. In fact, it will revert to a mutated version of what it was – one predicated on honest information and conversation enhancement rather than selling and hype.

Let me know what you think

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