If you had to guess the single most important word in advertising, what would it be? Free, special, discount, sale, new, improved, bigger, better...?

So many words have lost their meaning or been corrupted by misuse or abuse that it is not an obvious choice.

The terms "luxury," "exclusive," and "world-class" have been rendered meaningless after being applied to everything from 800-square-foot condos to restaurants that serve microwave frozen dinners. We can't even rely on "light," "diet," or "low-carb" to actually describe what's inside a package.

What advertisers have done is create a hyper-cynical marketplace, where the audience for whatever you sell has lost faith in what is being said.

But the Web with its emphasis on content gives advertisers an opportunity to redeem themselves and to deliver meaningful information to its audience.

All Content Is Advertising, All Advertising Isn't

Some may cringe at the thought, but in the final analysis all content is a form of advertising. Content is rarely if ever neutral, even if it doesn't overtly promote a product or service. Content always has a point to make, or an idea, concept, or position to advance.

If content doesn't provide some perspective, some meaningful knowledge, then does it really qualify as content?

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Jerry Bader is senior partner in MRPwebmedia (www.mrpwebmedia.com), a website-design firm that specializes in Web audio and video. Contact him via info@mrpwebmedia.com or (905) 764-1246.