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Breaking News: Advertising Is Dead!

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Don't agree?

Please ask your wife, husband, or significant other—in other words, the nearest typical consumer—to answer the following seven questions:

  1. Does viewing pop-up ads on your computer curl your toes in orgasmic delight? Yes or No?
  2. Does a mailbox filled with junk mail cause your palms to itch and sweat with nervous anticipation? Yes or No?
  3. Do you suffer from outbursts of violent anger when a TV commercial is interrupted by a TV movie? Yes or No?
  4. Do you prance around the parking lot with ecstatic abandon whenever you find a flyer on your car's windshield? Yes or No?
  5. Does keeping a phone next to your soup spoon on your dinner table (for fear of missing the next telemarketer's call) help your digestion? Yes or No?
  6. Do you drink pots of black coffee at 10 pm so you can stay awake to watch 30-minute infomercials at 4 am? Yes or No?
  7. Do you drool at the thought of spending $300 on an iPhone just so you can see interactive ads on its big, cool screen? Yes or No?

Have I made my point? Yes or No?

Advertising is dead. If you're a marketer... save your money.

Consumers have been over-advertised to and over-sold.

Unless you're conducting a white sale, fire sale, or going-out-of-business sale—and halving or quartering your prices—advertising won't get you a bang, a whimper- or a nickel for your buck. Not anymore.

The only ads that still earn their keep are those in newspapers and on supermarket windows:

Buy 1 Can of Campbell Soup for 89 Cents
and Get a 2nd Can—FREE!
Supplies limited!

Or something like that.

Beyond that, the first reaction that most consumers have when viewing any other type ad is to not believe anything it says.

And if they have no need, desire, or knowledge of you, your product ,or your service, their second reaction is to play basketball: Their arm and hand muscles reflexively contract, causing them to roll up your ad (even if figuratively) into a tight little ball and shoot for the nearest basket.

Beware the Consumer's Anti-Ad Third Eye

Because the consumer has become so desensitized to advertisements in general, if you don't shove your ad, sales letter, or flyer directly and firmly into their hands—they won't even notice it.

It's as if they've developed an anti-ad third eye that instinctively alerts them to an ad's presence and then immediately shoots a signal to the brain, instructing the other two eyes not to see it.

For example: How often, when surfing the Web, have you run across a Web page with a bright red, 40-word, one-sentence headline, ending with an exclamation mark or two or three?

Unless searching for that particular Web page, the average information-seeking web-surfer will immediately recognize the site as an ad and click away—without even reading two words of it.

The same thing happens when reading the newspaper, or driving past a billboard on the highway. Consumers simply refuse to look at the ads.

So What's a Marketer to Do?


I'll explain...

The success of the Internet has proven one thing above all else: Human beings, who include consumers, are addicted to information.

Google—the Internet version of a library card catalog—exists, thrives, dominates, and will eventually own the world because consumers are in a constant, never-ending search for more and more information.

And why do consumers want ever more information that will convince, compel, and persuade them to a certain point of view?

So they can make the most efficient, prudent, and intelligent choice about whatever it is they want to own, possess, consume, or buy.

Yes, buy.

Though consumers hate to be sold to, they nevertheless love to buy.

And their decision to buy is most effectively influenced when they are provided with information that supports, confirms. and increases their already resident desire to buy!

Enter the Advertorial

The advertorial is an ad disguised as an editorial. A cunning wolf in sheep's clothing. It's roughly 80% useful, compelling, and persuasive information—and 20% sales pitch.

It will never mention the name of the product, its features, or benefits in the headline. Because that would be too obvious—it would scream "ad" and immediately activate the consumer's anti-ad third eye.

Instead, in a newspaper, in a direct mail promotion, or on the Internet the advertorial will attract attention and readership by merely dangling the tantalizing promise of free actionable and profitable information... if only the reader would continue to read on.

An advertorial headline won't scream "LOSE 10LBS OF FAT IN 10 DAYS OR YOUR MONEY BACK!!"

Instead, the advertorial headline will read "John Hopkins Research PhD discovers active ingredient in ice cream that causes rapid weight loss."

Then the advertorial will proceed to show and prove, in pseudo-journalistic fashion, the What, Why, Who, Where, and When of how the product or service does precisely what the consumer wants and needs.

The advertorial delivers valuable, documented information that relentlessly leads readers to the inevitable conclusion that the solution to their problem or need is... whatever it is you're selling.

It doesn't look, taste, or smell like an ad, and the consumer's anti-ad third eye will never see it coming.

Try it... you'll like it.

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Barry A. Densa is a freelance marketing and sales copywriter at Writing With Personality. For more, visit his blog Marketing Wit & Wisdom.

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  • by amelia Sat Feb 16, 2008 via web

    very helpful n informative. i rate it 5 stars

  • by Jeff Thu Oct 2, 2008 via web

    Yes boring advertising is dead. good, engaging advertsising is alive and well. Just ask my clients who are seeing great results from their radio ads. Here's their recent tesimonial.

    Thanks to our recent radio advertising on HOPE 107.9 we were awarded a complete home design and remodel job.
    Our new clients said they had four other contractors look at their project before they heard our radio ad on HOPE 107.9 radio.

    Doing it right in Oregon.


  • by rebby Tue Mar 31, 2009 via web

    I agree, it's a great idea; but I believe that other forms of advertising work, as well. I think it totally depends on your target. After all, if all advertisers started to use advertorials, the "third eye" would indeed catch on, just as fast. Personally, I would become resentful towards this advertorials because they are misleading, which would frustrate me.

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