ad contraby Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian), San Francisco Bay Here at The Ad Contrarian World Headquarters, we’ve been grumbling for years about how the theory behind much of online advertising is a delusion.

The theory goes something like this:

Consumers are no longer strongly influenced by the interruption model of advertising (TV, radio, print, billboards, etc.) In order to be effective, marketers must gain consumers’ permission (the permission model) to interact with them. If marketers cuddle up to consumers this way, consumers will share their enthusiasm for the brand with others through the miracle of social media and great success will ensue.

This fairy tale still carries large weight in the marketing world. Regardless of the almost universal disappointment marketers have experienced with their own social media and “content” programs, they still somehow believe that everyone else is successful doing it.

But it’s starting to fade.

Last year, Facebook pretty much abandoned the fantasy and got into the interruption model big time. Great big traditional ads started appearing in our streams. Facebook still has pretensions of social media, but it’s pretty clear what it really is —  a social media channel with traditional advertising plastered all over it. If what I’ve read is true, Facebook is getting about 90% of its revenue from selling ad space, just like those nasty old TV networks.

The idea that Facebook is useful because consumers are having “conversations about brands” is as dead as QR codes. Okay, nothing is as dead as QR codes…

Now that Twitter is a public company and has to actually make money, we can expect the same from it.

In fact, all of “social media” is quietly in the process of morphing into just another channel for carrying traditional advertising. The delusion of “permission marketing” and “the conversation” and the “sharing of content” as the foundation for web advertising still gets lip service, but is being undermined by social media companies who are interrupting the shit out of us with ads.

Web ad strategy is turning out to be no different from the things it was supposed to supplant. All the wooly nonsense about sharing and conversations is beginning to sound gratuitous.

As usual, marketers and ad agencies are a couple of beats behind the band.

Although I am loathe to make predictions (I’d rather make fun of fools than be exposed as one), I am expecting online advertising to look even more like television advertising this year. The interruption model will continue its ascension and video spots will be the “new” rage.

Plus ça change…

The Ad Contrarian is Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian), the author of The Ad Contrarian and 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising.

This column has been republished from his blog The Ad Contrarian.

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