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Advertising Is Dead! Viva le SEO!
by Mike Banks Valentine
The King is dead! Long live the King!
The death of Louis XIV. was announced by the captain of the
bodyguard from a window of the state apartment. Raising his
truncheon above his head, he broke it in the centre, and
throwing the pieces among the crowd, exclaimed in a loud
voice, "Le Roi est mort!" Then seizing another staff, he
flourished it in the air as he shouted, "Vive le Roi!"
—Pardoe: Life of Louis XIV., vol. iii. p. 457.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the captain of
the bodygaurd for Advertising, so the task of announcing the
death of advertising is not among my responsibilities. Nor is
finding a successor to the throne. No, I do the less glorious
task of search engine marketing. I'm quietly on the sidelines
as Dot Bomb after Dot Gone pass by in a funeral procession that
seems endless. The parade route marching to the funeral dirge
and drum, glumly trudging through the streets mark the passing
of online royalty on a weekly basis.
Every week we bow our heads in honor of the passing of another
advertising-reliant giant. Today it's WebGiant, before that it was
WebVan and WebMD and Wine.com -- I'm starting at the bottom
of a very long alphabetical list, as you no doubt know.
The deathmarch itself has been analyzed-to-death by everyone
from network news anchors to newspaper commentators and pundits.
I won't burden us with another perspective here other than to
say that it's big business that has it all wrong in a twisted
attempt to apply old models to a new medium. I wonder why it is
that each new technology is constantly wedged into the wrong
shape hole because that is "where the money is".
When television was first developed, we didn't know what to do
with it because advertising was not so ubiquitous. We had print
advertising in magazines and radio advertisement ruled the air-
waves. But everyone agreed that television was worthless . . .
Not more than 10 per cent of the population will take up
Raymond Postgate, 1935
Television? The word is half Greek and half Latin. No good
will come of this device.
C P Scott, 1936
Television won't last because people will get tired of
staring at a plywood box every night.
Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox co-founder, 1946
But TV finally fell to advertising and is now fully one-third
ads and very little content, except for product placement and
But because advertising ruled our lives when the internet was
launched in 1995, we just naturally assumed that advertising
would rule online as well. But we got it wrong. I spend hours
online daily and do all I can to ignore the flashing, blinking
banners and skyscraper ads and sponsored links glaring from
the top, bottom and now edges, of the screen in front of me.
How do people behave online? Simple, they search. They search
for things they have an interest in. They bookmark favorites.
Most don't know why they get the results they do when searching.
It's because the top ranking sites in search results are very
specifically designed by people who know how to gain those top
rankings in the search engines. Why on earth would anyone spend
good money on advertising when most web surfers seek to avoid
advertising and even buy software meant to block advertising
from their web pages? Why on earth don't more businesses see
that search engine positioning is the number one solution to
visibility and success online?
Here comes another funeral.com march. I'll bet they had Super
Bowl ads and have banners flashing all over my favorite web
site. Oh and look! They have banner ads on the hearse! I guess
they didn't want to waste the eyeballs attending the funeral.
At least they aren't animated banners. Have some Respect!
Well, I'm going to usurp the job of the Captain of the Kings'
bodygaurd and announce that "Advertising is Dead!"
"Le ROI est mort!" (Return On Investment) "Long live Search
Engine Positioning!" Viva le ROI! Viva le SEO!
Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small
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