There are still grumblings about Facebook and their Beacon mess. What were they thinking? Did they actually believe that people would enjoy having everything they did tracked and then broadcast to their network? What about their recent foray into Social Advertising? Sebastien Provencher over at the Praized Blog sums it up best in this post: I Am Now A Blockbuster Spokesperson…
"Social Ads have now started to pop-up in Facebook’s user newsfeeds and they are showing a strange mash-up of your friends’ face with corporate advertising messages. By becoming a fan of Blockbuster in Facebook, I’m now officially an advertising icon for the company for all my friends to see. I’m not sure it works. Where’s the WIFM (what’s in it for me) for fans? Do you a get coupons, rebates, free rentals? Did I agree somewhere to allow use of my 'likeness'? Social Media is all about trusted recommendations and this does not feel like it. Maybe if I was allowed to write the advertising message…"
So what is the future of advertising?
If we look at the biggest changes that have taken place in advertising since the online world started to really take hold, the only two dramatic shifts have come from Google AdWords - where a twelve-word text message created an entirely new advertising category, and the recent Facebook Beacon kerfuffle in terms of pushing advertising to the contextual limits (maybe the whole cookie saga too).
So the new models are not pure interruption like traditional advertising. It's more like a slight nuisance. We've come to this point because the mass population understands that nothing is really free. People expect to pay something for everything, and the price for free online services (like great search and online social networks) is advertising. Even the best Advertising Executives will tell you that people are not going to opt-in to more messages, and they're not going to demand better advertising if given the choice. They're going to opt-out whenever possible and hope they never have to see another ad in their lives again.
That being said, people will pay attention to messages that are targeted and relevant to them (isn't that what AdWords and Beacon was/is trying to accomplish?).
So, when I hear all the complaints and gripes in the Blogosphere about new advertising tactics, and how people dislike them, I wonder what the future of advertising will hold. People are smarter, sharper and faster. They have global voices and the ability to reach a mass audience with the push of a publish button.
Maybe these newer forms of advertising is as good as it gets.
Maybe the future of advertising is here today, and we all have to get used to it.