Is Advertising Dead?

Did you see the guy with the mattress-store sandwich board along U.S. Route 1 last weekend? Did you get your town’s art-fair insert in your Sunday New York Times? Have promotions for Alaska cruises been showing up on your computer screen ever since you did your vacation research last weekend?

Since the 1700s, when Ben Franklin started including advertisements in his Pennsylvania Gazette, America’s companies have been trying to get people’s attention. They’ve been trying to connect with potential customers in big cities and small towns by advertising — paying to put stories of their products and services in places where the businesses hope their target buyers will see them. [Online Videos More Effective Than TV Advertising? ]

But that hope may be a thing of the past, because now, advertisers are more knowledgeable than ever before about where to reach their targets, what stories to tell them and when they are ready to listen.

Advertising is far from dead

Advertising is living, breathing and evolving like never before. I would dare to suggest that today is a new golden age of advertising, for two reasons.

Targeting is better than ever. Ideally, the best, most cost-effective advertising would only go to the people who would be happy — even delighted — to see just what they were looking for at exactly the right moment. Advertisers are closer to achieving that now than they’ve ever been, because advertisers know more about audiences than ever before. Now, you can segment viewers, readers or listeners so you reach more of the right people. If you’re an Amazon customer, you’ve seen a perfect example of this. The books Amazon recommends for me, based on what its system knows about my past purchases, are pretty well on target. Sometimes, I delete them — but often, I see new books I didn’t know about, and appreciate the insight.

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Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.