10 thoughts on “Advertising”

  1. I guess I’m one of the lowbrows who can’t filter out ads or banish their effects with my powerful intellect.

    I just bought a Stihl weed whacker because I saw an ad on TV advertising a $50 price reduction. I went to the Stihl store, saw a $200 price tag, and asked about it. The guy said, “Let me look it up. Half the time the corporate people don’t tell us.” I paid $150, and highly recommend the product. It’s my first electric, and I was very surprised by the power.

    I also recently bought two My Pillows when the Pillow Guy had a TV ad. I placed the order before the show started again without leaving my chair.

  2. Good comments, all.

    A very long time ago, I was a low-level employee of what was then the largest advertising agency in the world.

    I can say that, without any reservation, if sales are not improving, the agency is one of the first to feel the heat absent compelling evidence that something else is to blame – manufacturing problems, a congress person announcing hearings about whether the client’s products are harming customers, etc.

    • In the Bud light case they have been careful not to name the ad agency but they did fire the entire inhouse staff that wanted to get rid of “the frat boy image” to appeal to a better breed of customer.

      It might be the agency simply did what they were told.

  3. That was true in Parker’s days of one-way content distribution–print, billboards, broadcast radio and TV–but times change and the internet’s two way communication/distribution gave advertisers a way to measure both the reach and effectiveness of ads. For thirty years now internet banner ads have been the gold standard of advertising because the technology offers both a way to accurately measure how many eyeballs are presented with an ad *and* how many minds are actually “arrested” and drawn to click on the ad to find out more. The ratio of the two is called clickthrough. A third advantage of online ads is that through the use of “cookies” they can track viewer interests and engagement and finetune who gets served what ad. No more shotgunning ads hoping to randomly “arrest minds” that might be interested and annoying a milion for each one actively engaged with the ad.

    Internet ads are the primary reason print media has been in decline for those 30 years because it has sucked massive amounts of ad revenue from newspapers and magazines, forcing them to live off the value of their content.

    More recently, a second form of measureable ad has emerged, the streaming video ad, first on youtube and more recently on ad-supported video services like Pluto, Tubi, Roku, Freevee, and more, all tapping hundreds of “linear tv” channels broadcasting vintage video content 24×7 like cable. They have proven so effective that even the paid video-on-demand services like Disney, MAX, Peacock, Paramount, and Netflix have had to add cheaper, ad-supported subscription tiers.

    Apropos of those, we had this bit of news:

    Lots of unappreciated factoids in there, from the reveal that Microsoft actually has a thriving ad-placement business (a shock only to those unaware that MSN is second only to the combined BBC web sites for global english language news aggregation, well head of third place CNN, or that also-ran BING search still nets MS over $2B in profit each year) to the disclosure of the price of video ads (on the order of $35 per thousand ads served) and the percentage of income Netflix is getting from subscribers to their new tier.

    Video ads don’t typically provide clickthrough data but they do have contextuality and accurate exposure measurement. On some services like Youtube and Sling it is possible to skip ads after they start, providing a measure of viewer engagement. Hulu has been experimenting with an ad-choice viewer option that presents thumbnails of three different ads for the same product to choose from. You still have to sit through one of them, though. Data to feed back to the comany paying (extra) for the ad.

    So basically, no; ad agencies aren’t the biggest beneficiaries of the modern ad business. That dishonor goes to Google/Alphabet, Facebook/Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and other tech companies that promote, deliver, and measure ad distribution and effectiveness.

    Nowhere near 100% accurate but it’s no longer random and unmeasured and in the process both print and legacy broadcast and cable TV are fading away. Streaming is now king with over 75% household penetration. New era.

    • Let us hope that Silicon Valley does not have its virtual thumb on this particular scale, as they do on so many others. During times of rapid civilizational decline, trust of anyone who isn’t family or a close friend becomes an unaffordable luxury. Recall that everybody from the SEC to various media outlets, the very institutions we depend to watch over such things, were complicit in Bernie Madoff’s looting operation long after it became mathematically apparent. And now the rumor going around Hollywood that the real reason the big studios refuse to share viewership metrics wth the striking writers is not because they want to cheat those soulless hacks out of their paltry She-Hulk residuals, but rather because if the real numbers ever get out and we learn nobody’s actually watching that drivel, share prices and ad rates both will crash.

      Everything is a grift now. I will vote for the first candidate who proposes to replace in God we trust with caveat emptor.

    • Felix,

      How do you know a real person is watching or clicking? Or is an bot browser that’s part of a click farm?

      Then there’s the fact that Google and Meta (FB) control the vast majority of internet advertising, so there’s really not much competition for advertising.

      If Google wants to increase its take by increasing prices to advertisers and decreasing prices to web sites, what are you going to do? And apparently Meta/FB is pretty good at games, too, like controlling who sees your posts when.

      • The major ad servers monitor online behavior and they are aware of click farms and bots. They can spot abnormal patterns on the fly.

        But the sheer scale of their operations means that only another equally large business can significantly impact their operations. And their market power means they have no incentive to fake the numbers. Also, nobody takes them as absolutely accurate but remember the competition is Nielsen.

        Finally, remember we’re talking about ads, not Facebook posts.
        Those are a whole ‘nother story:


        Censoring speech is about abusing posters, gaming ads is messing with the paying customers. Posters are powerless compared to the governent aparatchiks calling the shots on what to suppress whereas advertisers control their revenue strings.

        Messing with the paying customer is not wise.

        (Speaking of ads annoying customers, Coors just rubbed salt on the Bud light wound by naming a new spokesMAN. Cole Hauser of YELLOWSTONE. Probably the most likeable MALE character in the cast. Subtle choice it ain’t. 😀 )

    • I do wonder, though, how many people have trained themselves to mostly ignore ads on streaming services and web pages. I know that when streaming, I do the same thing as when I had television – “Ad, time to make a sandwich/make a restroom run/read a bit more of the current book/etc.”

      Not that it makes them useless. I’ll sometimes pay attention to the “word from our sponsor” on some YouTube channels (all YT dump ads are blocked). I did buy a “pet friendly” pesticide due to an ad on my radio station – although it took a half-dozen times for it to penetrate (they apparently lost their national feed due to the severe lightning storm we were having, so ran almost an entire hour of just ads).

      • One difference is that ad-supported streaming services limit their ads to 5 minutes per hour max, whereas cable and broadcast throw 15-16 minutes per hour.
        With 5 minutes per break you can do a lot. With one minutes you barely get to yawn.

  4. Is the intelligence being arrested that of the consumer or of the client? Dorothy Parker was no doubt correct to say, “It pays to advertise,” but who does it really pay, aside from the ad agencies themselves? We are more likely to have solid scientific evidence of life on other planets before we do the solution to that trillion-dollar mystery.

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