More Advertising, Please

I am SO sick of companies thinking that if they give you a taste of content that they’re entitled to blast you with tons of worthless, one-way advertising. Disgusting.

A few times a week, I have to endure receiving the “Neighborhoods” version of the Reno Gazette-Journal in the mail. There are a lot of problems with this publication, despite it not delivering on its promise of news in my area of town. This publication is nothing more than a shell for advertising. In this latest issue, it contained 3 pages of content/articles (and 2 of those three pages contained some advertising), and 214 pages of advertising. I’ll repeat those stats – 3 pages of articles, 214 pages of advertising!!! That’s almost 99% advertising. I know, you’re wondering how the hell that’s possible. I must have my numbers wrong. Nope – I counted three times (I’m careful, plus I often waste my time if I can make a point).

RGJ Neighborhoods

RGJ Neighborhoods

99% Ads

99% Ads

Of the flood of ads I received in my newspaper, how many were relevant to me? Who knows? I don’t. I typically throw this whole package away because I know that I am not getting any relevant content in that publication. Advertisers – you are wasting your money! 

It’s no surprise to see that consumers are growing increasingly weary of this kind of “interruption advertising” and turn to communication channels in which they can better control the interaction. Yes, I’m talking about everybody’s favorite hot topic – social media. Sadly, advertisers are already in full stride toward the gold rush that is social media, and treating it the same way they’ve abused mass media. This parasitic behavior makes me ill and angry all at once. Some advertisers are  slithering their way into the established communities in different social media channels, and treating it like their own “Neighborhoods.” Are they giving members of their communities valuable content, meaningful conversation or a symbiotic relationship? Nope. They treat it as a new place to put their ads (and advertisements take many forms). I am warning advertisers again, that you should treat social media like this only if you want to fail. 

You think you’re participating in social media? Re-examine that notion – because if you’re not “playing by the new rules,” you will fail. Have you created a blog and are simply posting your press releases there? Fail. Maybe you created a Facebook page – but is there any community interaction other than you blasting out promotional messages? Fail. Maybe you have a Twitter account so that you can syndicate your blog entries of your press releases. Fail. Are your YouTube videos nothing more than advertisements (be honest)? Fail. I encourage diversification of your presence in social media – but you have to think differently in this arena. It’s not another advertising platform. It’s a community-based form of communication. If I invited you over to my house for dinner, and all you talked about was how Cinnamon Toast Crunch was $2.95, or that your new pickup truck had 250 horsepower or some other way I should come spend money with you… I would never invite you over ever again. Please understand the analogy here.

So – anybody who is putting out content – be it in publications or in social media – evaluate your communications. How much of it is promotional? Don’t let it be 99%. Not even close.

5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Bob said,

    This is spot on. A question remains, however, should orgs and businesses really be attempting the kind of conversations you envision? In many cases, yes. At the same time, many businesses thrive simply on reputation and word of mouth. Social media would be superfluous and perhaps even harmful.

    Will you be taking on the Reno News & Review next? That could be fun.


    PS I’d be curious to know how often the RGJ spends time in the North Valleys gathering news stories (besides crime reports and government meetings).

  2. 2

    Mike McDowell said,

    I agree. social media is not right for every company. The real tragedy is that when some of these businesses see the growing popularity of social media, they jump in and simply provide one-way advertising (much like they’re used to doing in newspapers). But, I do think that there are many organizations, businesses, products, etc that could be a part of a strong community, giving it value (and not treating it as another forum for their marketing messages).

    Clearly they don’t spend time in the North Valley when their headlining stories for the area include Northgate and Arlington Gardens (nowhere near my neighborhood).

  3. 3

    Rob said,

    I kinda like the ads. I always read Best Buy religiously. ;-p

    Ads kinda aren’t even an argument to have right now. The RGJ has gotten so light it blows away in the wind. Ads have always kept the print in business, but they can’t do it alone. Dying medium certainly.

    And as a side note, the RGJ is a rag. I don’t receive or read that neighborhood flyer, but I have seen it once and it was awful. Of the ideas trying to “fix” the broken print media, ignoring 80% of the consumer’s community doesn’t seem the most logical to me.

  4. 4

    McQ said,

    Bird cage, anyone?

    The worst part of that publication is that I receive it via snail mail. At least throw it in my driveway so I can run over it until it blows away (like the regular RGJ does now, due to it’s decreased size- serioiusly, they’ve received complaints).

    As though I don’t get enough junk in my mailbox already, I now receive the equivolent of the Sunday paper’s ads without subscribing to a newspaper. Although I read Cabela’s ad. But that comes seperately anyhoo.

  5. 5

    I’m glad someone finally took the initiative to address this sort of nonsense. Newspapers are failing left and right because they blindly continue to follow an outdated business model and refuse to change with the times. The problems are readily apparent (just check out a few blogs on the subject) and could be corrected with some attention and strategic planning. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… the industry would rather keep slogging along until the presses finally grind to a stop. If they don’t want to go the way of the dinosaurs, maybe they should get their tactics out of the ice age.

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