Advertising Loses Its Balance

Here is the latest in the ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World. This report is about one of the key issues behind the disruption to advertising that is challenging all media companies today.

As audiences for media shift to the Web, the mass in mass marketing dissipates, and this is a real problem for businesses and industries trying to reach consumers with their messages. Madison Avenue’s response has been to pour its old wine into new wineskins, but it hasn’t worked. The advertising industry is more concerned about maintaining its place in the business hierarchy than adapting to the changing culture, and this is its Achilles’ Heel. Nothing is top-down online, and that is a problem for advertisers even moreso than it is for media companies, who are nourished by the money advertisers spend in their quest to grow (or sustain) their businesses.

The media challenge of tomorrow is the enabling of commerce in the communities we serve, not just the placement of advertising messages in a mass-market medium. New advertising is our new business, and we need to be paying attention to what’s happening in this world.

Advertising Loses Its Balance


  1. Terry,

    You seem more focused on revenue as of late. To address your question, “Why we can’t use that knowledge to genuinely enable commerce for everybody in our communities is a real mystery,” the answer is pretty obvious if you spend any time in a local TV station. From what I have seen, (1) AEs are disinterested in Web money because it does not compare to what they have been able to garner for on-air spots, (2) AEs are often lazy, preferring to maintain a longstanding on-air account rather than drum up new business, (3) sales teams stick to old models because they are easy to execute and package in terms they understand, (4) TV stations are under so much pressure to maintain margin that they will do the simplest and easiest thing to make sure they hit a short-term number/goal even if it hurts them in the long run.

    You had a post ~two years ago when you suggested that more media companies may/should go private. I believe you were suggesting they were unable to take risks because they had to answer to stakeholders. I think that plays a part here.

    For the record, newspapers are a whole other issue. They have the staff, infrastructure and systems that could drive unique Web revenue initiatives and have failed to leverage it in creative ways.

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