The death of advertising authenticity

In the old days, you could take out a quarter page ad in the newspaper and become more legitimate. Some people would open their morning paper and see your logo and message next to the most reputable word about what's happening. Your ad would sit next to ones by trusted brands like Macy's, Cadillac and Fidelity. Ads cost a lot of money, because newspapers had costs they had to cover. Prices remained high because the newspaper controlled page count. There were finite resources, so supply and demand applied.

Today, if you take out a display ad on the Internet, you're likely to see ads for punch-the-monkey, colon cleansing, and Acai Berry scams. Ads cost nothing because of an infinite supply of untargeted display space on the web. And so if you take that ad in the wasteland of low-trust brands, you will become less legitimate.

Attention transforms into a very free-form resource. This comes directly out of the hypertext nature of the web. I can go in any direction and find any information at a moment's notice. I am not shackled to one set of newsprint sitting in front of me. When you take away those limitations, my attention can go to whatever is most interesting or most fit at that moment.

When attention becomes unshackled, we expect good stories and good products to come to us. That's how got huge without spending a single dime on traditional or online advertising. Great products and great services grow organically. Nobody will ever tell their friends about that AWESOME punch the monkey scams and colon cleansing scams they participated in. As a result, authenticity can no longer be purchased. It must be earned.

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