The Art of War: Web Style

By | July 27, 2009

Hmm, doing advertising yourself, now that’s a novel idea:

. . . over the last eight years, companies have shifted $65 billion in annual spending away from traditional advertising channels and spent it on “page content, Web analytics, search engine optimization and site design.” Link.

One reaction, if you’re an ad firm morphing into something else, might be to try and get some of that business by adding a little analytics or design to your services. Which is okay.

But the problem with that is (a) it’s not easy to do any of them really well (b) it’s hard to package them all together so that your margin holds and (c) even if you get the first two things right the fees you can charge are always being deflated by the fact that the Web is ultimately a self-serve platform.

A better path (at least simultaneous) is to ask what all the businesses who were spending $65B on advertising, and who are now spending it on advertising of their own creation by ordering up specific services (. . . but $55B next year and $45B the year after that) actually want from that advertising. (What do they want?!)

Then, use everything about the Web that’s breaking your business model now (modular, real time, social, open, micro-transactional) to give it to them. Make it work for you. In other words, don’t chase the customer, surround them with their own reality. That’s the art of war.

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  • sherrett

    Hey, that sounds familiar!

    Good post and analogy. I like the Art of War reference.

    • brooksjordan

      Thanks. Familiar in the sense that it's what you guys decided to do?

    • brooksjordan

      Ah, for some reason I didn't see the rest of your reply on my phone. I hear it.

      The question is can that creative somehow be packaged up in a self-service product . . . I'm thinking of something like @campaignmonitor, which I was in this morning – super easy/smart to use with a gallery of hot email templates to use or build upon.

      That's good for the customer and the agencies/shops doing custom creative for them. It makes an ecosystem of app provider, creative agency, and client possible.

      • sherrett

        That is the question. I hope it can. Our early indication are that it can too. Maybe through direct sales to ad buyers, maybe through partnerships with media companies, publishers and networks.

        I like the Campaign Monitor example. We use them for our email newsletter and it's such an good experience I can't imagine using anything else.

        The comparison gallery of resusable templates for ads is a little harder. So many media types, output formats and creative elements. But doable in the long run.

        The biggest barrier remains client adoption of creative not custom built for them.