Is the End Near for Traditional Advertising?

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Is the End Near for Traditional Advertising?The demise of in-your-face marketing and advertising is close at hand, to be replaced by what Facebook’s Paul Adams terms a form of advertising that depends on "many lightweight interactions over time."

Adams is Facebook’s Global Brand Experience Manager, a job that allows him to spend the balance of his day researching and designing better ways for businesses and people to communicate and interact. Before that, he was a senior user experience researcher at Google.

Adams claims that to really reach today's consumers, companies and brands will need to build relationships with them rather than simply grabbing their attention or utilizing disruptions as an advertising tool. In other words, marketers should be progressive rather than aggressive, adding a fifth "P" -- Participation -- to the traditional marketing mix of Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

Much like the way we develop friendships over a period of time, an entire generation of advertisers will need to plan their marketing scenarios around the concept of building relationships. We often meet new acquaintances through friends. We chat them up, maybe catch them later at a party with other mutual acquaintances, discover we have similar interests, and, before you know it, we’re all packed up and off on a weekend ski trip together in Vermont.

We should build our relationships with potential clients and customers the same way. And we can begin that process by subtly promoting our brands in passing -- as an aside to a bigger discussion or conversation. Like Adams says: lightweight, not heavyweight. With the advent of the World Wide Web, there’s so much information out there for us to absorb and so little time to absorb it. As a result, the best way to introduce new products, content or ideas to consumers will be seamlessly, naturally and subtly through word-of-mouth interactions.

Adams believes, as I do, that within a few years, the web will need to evolve to become more personalized to our own requirements. Websites need to contain information that is more relevant to our very particular wants, desires and needs. This personalization -- fostered by a social fabric that’s woven throughout the user experience online -- needs to seamlessly greet visitors with information about what their friends and associates are watching, reading, recommending, commenting on and more. Further, it should move to replace random display ads, pop-up messages or banner advertisements. Those direct -- "heavyweight" -- ads will fall by the wayside, like so many other obsolete processes and technologies.

Adams goes so far as to say heavy-handed commercial content doesn’t sit well with consumers because it’s not part of real life. While I wouldn't go that far (think Clint Eastwood’s "Halftime in America" Super Bowl commercial), I do believe that personalized interactions -- especially ones that reflect a trust and a willingness to listen to one another's opinions -- will go a long way toward sealing the deal.

Do you think traditional advertising is here to stay or on its way out? Let us know why in the comments section below.

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