Advertising Works, Even if You Don't Click... Even if You Hate It!

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Slate Magazine had a fascinating article yesterday about how Facebook intends to make money.

In the early years of Internet advertising, the assumption by most was that the Internet was better than traditional (print or television or radio) advertising for two key reasons:

  1. Impressions: Internet gave you the ability to show it to exactly the right number and kind of people, the ability to target impressions. This is just a more effective form of traditional print/TV/radio advertising, and is paid for in CPM (cost per thousand impressions).
  2. Trackability: Internet ads are not just seen or heard, they can be directly acted upon. An advertiser has the ability to make the ad clickable, and pay the content site only for impressions that lead to action. This is direct lead-gen advertising, and is pard for in CPC (cost per click).

For a time, there was a belief that the direct trackability of Internet advertsiing, leading to action, meant that impressions would become less interesting and valuable over time. After all, why pay for impressions, which may be of dubious value, when you can pay for results, actual generation of leads. After all, you don't advertise just so people see your product/service, you advertise so they do something with it.

Apparently, as many marketers have known for years - but were largely dismissed as partisans of old-school advertising who were soon to be swept away - impressions do count. Seeing an advertisement, especially multiple times, can and does influence someone in their perceptions of the product, and eventually in if they choose to buy it.

In the end, Internet advertising may supplant print/TV/radio in exactly the same fashion and for the same reasons as the existing platform: just to get a brand, product, service out in front of customers.