Stop Selling Ads and Do Something Useful


Ad agencies know how to deliver messages, but what people need today is content they can use.

Banner ads didn’t always suck. I should know. I helped create the first one.

My children tell me that’s like inventing smallpox.

It was October 1994, a fantastically idealistic time on the Internet. Many pioneers of digital advertising believed it possible to create advertising so useful it’s a service. We knew that if we asked ourselves, “How can we help people?” rather than, “What can we sell people?” we could rewire people’s brains to seek out brand experiences, rather than run from them.

That first banner that Modem Media, the fledgling digital agency where I worked, built for AT&T, was helpful, and it was useful. At a time when people wondered what the Web was all about, it connected visitors of hotwired.com to a tour of seven of the world’s finest art museums. It demonstrated how AT&T could transport people through space and time via the Internet — just as AT&T had done 100 years earlier with the first long distance network. Of those who saw the ad, 44% clicked.

Raymond Reid‘s insight:

This is an absolute must read, a simple premise that if achieved will change what is now called advertising…for the better!

See on blogs.hbr.org



Categories: Content Marketing, Leadership, Media

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