Online Advertising Burnout

May 13th, 2008

There are days when I don’t post a blog entry or otherwise update my site because I’m too immersed in housekeeping chores.

Those chores fall into two categories: scouring the Web for more articles, data and commentary that are the lifeblood of what goes into this site, and then sorting through and filing all of those articles, data and commentary to make sure they’re accessible when I get back to writing.

I just did a check of my resource data: I’ve got over 3,400 files in 180 folders comprising over a gigabyte of data. Please forgive me if I sometimes fall behind.

One article that I uncovered this evening was from a very interesting (and free) annual report issued by the Deloitte consultancy, called “Media Predictions: TMT Trends 2008” (“TMT” stands for Technology, Media and Telecommunications). I’ve got versions of this report going back to 2006; I’m not certain if that was the year when the report was first issued.

The 2008 version covers a range of topics, from music to offshoring to piracy issues. What caught my attention tonight was the section covering online advertising. It starts off with a brief history of the growth of online advertising, but halfway through the article comes the showstopper: a key barrier to the continued ascendancy of online advertising “may be growing antipathy to the online advertisement itself. One 2007 survey of US consumers found that over three-quarters of respondents considered Internet advertisements more intrusive than those in print. Nearly two-thirds claimed that they paid more attention to print advertising than to that on the Web. Over a quarter stated that they would pay for advertisement-free online content.”

That data, we learn from the footnotes, derives from a “Survey of 2200 US consumers undertaken in 2007, commissioned by Deloitte Development LLC.”

Over the last month we’ve seen that the voracious ongoing interest focused by all sectors of the Internet marketplace is based on the assumption that online advertising is the key factor (if not the only factor) that will determine the level of success of the most successful websites in the years to come (c.f. Microsoft vs. Yahoo).

Over the last few months I’ve been asking friends and colleagues whether or not they pay attention to ads on the Web, and/or click through to them. Without exception their response is that they’ve trained themselves not to even see the ads, be they banner ads or Google-style ads. They skim the content; the ads are just noise.

Obviously Google’s recent financial results indicate that my friends and colleagues may currently not be representative of the public at large. But I wonder how long it will take the general public to see Web ads as adding noise rather than value.