Terry Heaton makes a point I’ve been trying to articulate for years: “The problem is that the distribution of content isn’t the real problem for media companies; it’s the growing ability of advertisers to reach people without media companies.”
Or, put another way, it’s the ability of brands to be their own media companies. If the Official Google Blog was a newspaper, it’s subscriber numbers would put it in the top 10 for daily circulation. Not only does that mean Google has less need for advertising, but it also means they have less need for media coverage generally.
Noah calls this direct to consumer (which has another meaning in pharmaceutical advertising, but ignore that).
Here’s another example: Johnson & Johnson has plenty of parenting products to sell, so they made Babycenter.com, now the go-to place for new parents.
How many people really see, let alone pay attention to, an advertisement?
Certainly not more than the 5.5 million parents who visited Babycenter in March (by choice), many of whom have given J&J registration information any brand would die for.
Advertising requires constantly spending money. When you stop spending, it stops working. But when you spend money to build something your customers find valuable — like a website worth coming back to — that investment pays off over the long term.
Advertising isn’t going away, and you still need to spend money to make money. The choice is whether or not you’re in this thing for the long haul.
As I like to say, this whole internet thing could get big someday.
I only say that half-ironically. If you think the massive growth of the web over the last decade is a fluke — or has peaked — you’re crazy. We’re 10% of the way there. Stake your claim.