Advertising deserves a damn good thrashing

Image credit: Roman Samborskyi /

Advertising has lost its way. It is not getting to the people who it is designed to get to and will soon pay the price if it doesn’t do something cool. And fast.

How many times have you done this:

  • Bought something online.
  • Started doing something else
  • Seen an advert for the thing you just bought
  • Seen an advert for the thing you just bought
  • Seen an advert for the thing you just bought
  • Seen an advert for the thing you just bought
  • Seen an advert for the thing you just bought
  • Got really pissed off with the company that sold you the thing you just bought
  • Boycotted the company’s products
  • Downloaded an ad blocker.

To put it another way – how often do you watch TV in ‘real time’?

Or yet another way – have you willingly watched an advert on TV in the past year?

TV does not exist in the way that it used to. If you ask millennials if they watch TV, they will look at you as if you just teleported in from Mars. Most do not own a TV. They do not need to.

Advertising is struggling in many quarters and instead of being the windswept and interesting arena that it used to be, it is looking distinctly in need of some jolly good disruption.

It should, frankly, be taken out and thrashed.

The only possible exception to the overall greyness of the advertising world is product placement in cool movies. James Bond looks at his Patek Phillippe and you think “Mmm, slick.” [Well, maybe you do. – Ed.] He rolls out the Aston (again) and you think “Mmm, cool car,” feel a little sorry for Q and move on.

Seriously, though, the pendulum is swinging. Across almost every medium, advertising is becoming the thing to block. Social media is busy putting on their ‘holier than thou’ privacy crusader hats while quietly continuing to flog your information to advertisers. They, too, will pay the price.

TV … well, forget TV.

The big brands do not know what to do with their money anymore. They are making their own adverts, they are reducing their spend on social media and producing their own intelligent content really quite well.

Now Mozilla owned Firefox is piling in. The next version will block third-party trackers so brands will not know what you doing. Meanwhile, ad blockers are increasing at an extraordinary rate.

You have to wonder where it will end. It is no use saying that advertising is the unacknowledged transaction of the internet. The currency is flawed and devalued and until someone does something disruptive and creative the boat will continue to rock, the quality of content will drop and the whole sorry mess will be a laughing stock that people will stop watching and using.

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