For each of 12 Mondays from November through January I am summarizing one of my original ideas.
6. Advertising is generally ineffective. People often respond to this truth with an apparent confusion. It has been my insight that eliminates this confusion and makes a big difference in marketing.
My distinction has been the source of a $200 billion corporation.
Advertising is the entire category of messages that are put in front of you like dog poop on the sidewalk. Advertising is a scatter gun approach that hopes to reach a select small target audience by saturating the public. Called 'banner ads' on the Internet. For me to say it is ineffective is trivial, since economists have been measuring its irrelevance for 70 years with countless colorful examples. Advertising is effective in a few instances where word-of-mouth is not available: advertising is effective in influencing children and plays a role in decisions for tourists.
What people confuse with advertising, that is indeed effective, is listing. Listing is putting relevant information for customers and prospective customers at a place where they are looking for it. Yellow pages have always been a listing. And always been effective. Signs on the building are a listing, flyers in the neighborhood of a business are listing, signs on a product are a listing.
Most of all, a listing is what Google AdSense offers. It is clickable information at the point in which a potential customer is looking for that information.
Google's success comes from its opening page which has no God damn ads. It is clean and simple. This communicates trustworthiness and competence. Google goes on to generate tens of billions of dollars by being the biggest listing business in the world. A Google listing is where you are looking for that information.
I wrote about this (with Salli Rasberry) in the book Marketing Without Advertising, in 1984, based on a class I taught beginning in 1980. Roughly 20 years before Google. The book has gone through 6 editions and has been a staple in the computer world since it was first published.
Most people to this day do not understand the difference between advertising and listing.