I’ve been engaged in an interesting discussion on the Online News mailing list about the power of text advertising. A couple of participants say their experience shows that text ads outdraw graphics. I’m not surprised. No one goes online to read GIF’s.
Text advertising is desirable because it’s reader-friendly, cheap to produce, and more effective.
But, general advertisers and their agencies don’t understand text advertising for business and cultural reasons. They don’t make any money on production. The best-paid and most prestigious people at the agency are doing TV work. And everything is geared toward creating and maintaining “brands”, not selling stuff.
This is consistent with research that shows that “traditional” advertisers are embracing “rich media advertising”.
Then that leaves direct marketers, whom I have always seen as the natural market for online advertising. My sense is that they’re obsessed with direct email right now. Direct email is problematic because good lists are hard to find and expensive, and spam has increased consumer resistance and honed email filtering.
The next steps are becoming clear:
1. Develop standardized text-ad formats
2. Improve the marketing of Web advertising, particularly text, to direct marketers and their agencies.
3. Invent ways to make general news and information pages attractive to direct marketers without violating readers’ privacy or even appearing to do so.