The Tyranny of Dead Internet Ideas; Intro

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These comments are being posted simultaneously on The Drift and on the iMedia Connection blog in advance of my keynote at next month’s iMedia Agency Summit in Austin, Texas.  This is the first of three posts on this topic.

I see dead ideas.  And they don’t even know they’re dead.

I’m liberally borrowing the premise of Matt Miller’s economic treatise “The Tyranny of Dead Ideas” and applying it to digital marketing and advertising.  Miller’s position is that societies, economies and industries have a difficult time recognizing the long-held, often sacred, ideas and premises that – if left unchallenged – actually stifle innovation and promote intellectual stagnation and inertia.

And does our industry ever have a closetful!

Having been part of the literal inception of online advertising in 1994 (my team at Wired/Hotwired in New York sold many of the web’s very first banners) I can say without hesitation that it was a really different business back then.  Yet the models and principles would look shockingly familiar to those we held during Clinton’s first term.  If we were starting the industry from scratch today – a time of screaming broadband, social media and always-on connectivity – many of these concepts would never have been embraced in the first place.  So grab your shotgun and let’s take out a few zombies, shall we?

Dead Idea #1:  Banner as Transportation Vehicle. Not even an anachronism any more.  Moving people around the web is just plain stupid.  Today’s bandwidth and creative technology make it pretty simple to advertise to people where they are instead of trying to move them where we wish they were. It’s called an impression, not a transfer.

Dead Idea #2:  Optimizing Click Rates. A .25% click rate — the average – means that 975 of every thousand online ads have no value.  Yet we’ve made a cottage industry of nudging this up to .3%.  Hello?? Folks, this is a dead idea.  We can aspire to more than simply sucking less.

Think I’m dead wrong?  Have a few dead ideas of your own to contribute.  Post them here and then watch this space tomorrow for more of the walking dead.

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