The Real Future Of Advertising


If I was launching a product today, say shoes, I wouldn’t buy an ad anywhere.

I would set up a blog about my shoes (with comments allowed).


Instead of hiring a celebrity endorser I would give away pairs of shoes to my target market in certain cities.


Maybe I would also give those folks cameras and tell them to take pictures of anything just include the shoes.


I would post those pictures and video on my blog, on Flickr, on YouTube and other free viral Web 2.0 services.


I would maybe build a social network like USA Network has in beta.

But I wouldn’t buy one ad.

Explore posts in the same categories: advertising, blog networks, money, new media, YouTube

26 Comments on “The Real Future Of Advertising”

  1. Erik Says:


    Maybe in 5 years this might work (but probably not), but not now.

    What percentage of Americans wear shoes? Asymptotically approaching 100%.

    What’s the market penetration of blogs? 20% (maybe). Now what percentage of Americans are regular blog readers? Maybe 5%. Now besides fetishists and shoe salesmen, who would read and participate in a blog about shoes? Anyone? So you’d have salesmen and fetishists trying to market your shoes.

    So how are you planning on reaching your target market? You know the 95% of Americans who are not regular blog readers but still need shoes.

    Community requires passion. Freaks like Imelda Marcos are passionate about shoes.

  2. chartreuse Says:

    If you read carefully you see that I do more than put up a blog.
    I’m using viral mareting (Flickr/YouTube, etc.) as well. And social networking.

    The point of the post is that ads (i.e. pretty pictures of products) are pretty much done.

    You want them to hear about your shoes through someone else, not through an ad.

    It’s what I would do.

    What you do is up to you.

  3. Erik Says:

    Yes I understand what viral marketing is. When I was at Y!, way back when we bought Four11 in 1997 I had long talks with the Rocketmail team about it. I like to learn from the best. When we bought Yoyodyne, I picked Seth’s brain every chance I got.

    Now to yoru point, how many users does Flickr have? When they were bought out they had about 300K, shall we say it’s an order of magnitude more now? So there are 3 million users… There are 300 million consumers of shoes, how do you reach the other 297 million potential customers? Web 2.0 applications do not have the market penetration at this point in time to reach the mainstream consumer market (despite the Web 2.0 circle blogger circle jerk).


    “The point of the post is that ads (i.e. pretty pictures of products) are pretty much done.”

    I don’t think you understand what advertising is. Advertising is way more than pretty pictures of the product. Advertising is about manipulating the consumer emotionally.

  4. chartreuse Says:

    Advertising is about manipulating the consumer emotionally.


    Here’s the deal.
    This is the age of the deal.
    No one wants to pay retail for anything.(ebay)
    The 5 finger discount has become a way of life. (napster, youtube etc.)

    The way of customer engagement is completely different now than it was in 1996.

    Remember King Kong. Huge movie. Considered a flop. Blockbuster Ads which nobody got.

    Look at Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion. Cost 6 million. Almost no advertising. Gross 55 million in 3 weeks.

    Tyler Perry folks didn’t buy ads. Word of mouth to their target market.

    Kids today don’t want to be told what to like. They want to decide what to like. They want to hear it from their friends. They want to be engaged. Engagement is not what pretty pictures do.

    If my shoes are good. People will hear about them. I may Joint Venture with a T-shirt guy. Who knows? But the one thing I wouldn’t do is BUY ADS.

    I stand by my post. It’s called the Future of advertising anyway.

  5. Erik Says:

    The way of customer engagement is completely different now than it was in 1996.

    How Web 1.0.

    “It’s all new” “This is totally different” “It’s a new paradigm” “Bricks and mortar is dead”

    Been there, done that, have the T-shirt (hundreds of them actually).

    Oh yeah, the “flop” King Kong… Cost $207 million, Worldwide gross $539 million.

    $332 million > $49 million

    Big margins on little volumes always lose to little margins on big volumes.

  6. Rob Sanheim Says:

    The key is you don’t have to reach the 300 million potential shoe consumers. You just need to reach the fraction of a percentage who are the mavens and first movers.

    The issue is how much overlap is there between bloggers/flickr/myspacers and your target mavens?

  7. chartreuse Says:

    this is lasting too long.
    you don’t love me.
    i can take it.

    was kk a flop? it was considered a flop in hollywood (,2933,178983,00.html)
    Word was it needed 500 million to break even…thats a lot of cash.

    but all of that is besides the point.
    i’m just a shoe seller.
    i think i can make more money and have a more fanatical audience if i don’t sell ads.
    (and btw, big is so 20th Century. Small is the new big. Even Seth says that!)

  8. Robert Bruce Says:

    Char, incredibly, I’m talking right now with a killer businessman (shoes) that gets it about partnering up and doing just this (and more).

    Yeah, I’ve got a thing for shoes as well as poems…

    We’ll keep you posted as it opens up. And spreads around.

  9. darrenF Says:

    I see both of your points.
    I don’t think Char is trying to become the biggest shoe seller on the planet. He’s trying to create buzz for his shoes. If people think his shoes are cool the people will come.

    Using movies as examples are difficult. Accounting in notoriously inaccurate on purpose. A lot of people get paid on the back end so that has to seem small.

    I think everything is smaller these days. Everything successful always skews smaller because it’s so easy to target your market.

    I happen to like ads. i don’t think they are going away. But if I was launching a new product I may follow Chartreuse’s suggestions first. I haven’t seen a Google ad yet.

  10. chartreuse Says:

    My brother emailed me some advice for you Erik.

    He said read The Tipping Point.

  11. Erik Says:

    I’ve read it.

    You have to reach the mavens and the connectors in your target market. That’s the hard part and you seem to have no plan to identify and target them.

    “if you build it, they will come” is not a marketing plan.

  12. chartreuse Says:


    This is a blog.

    Hopefully a halfway entertaining one.

    I try to lay out information and ideas to get people to think.

    It is not where I lay out specific marketing strategies for other businesses.

    Of course you have to target the mavens and find the connectors. That’s essential. But I wanted to say things in one sentence. Not confuse people with marketing speak (maven?!? WTF is Char talking about?)

    I’m glad you’re here. I like a good debate. Ask any of my ex-wives.

  13. Erik Says:

    It’s all cool. We’re just having fun.

    At the end of the day, ludicrous hype helped turn a boom into a bubble last time.

    Much of your “paradigm shifting” “whole new world” rhetoric sounds an awful lot like the hype of 1998.

    My advice after 20 years in the “media intersects technology” biz… Underpromise and overdeliver.

  14. candice Says:

    People already do some of this with shoes.

    Manolo the ShoeBlogger ( apparently makes a handy living out of referrals to shoe-selling websites. It doesn’t hurt that the man has an eye for stunning shoes, and posts links to shoes that are on sale. (If only I could afford them.) He keeps a blogroll full of “fashion bloggers.”

    La Coquette ( occasionally posts pictures of haute couture shoes, which undoubtedly have some addition to the buzz about the shoes. She also gets paid to do various writing and other stuff in the fashion industry.

    Shoes in particular are a buzz thing. I have this pair of red shoes that other girls are constantly threatening to steal. I’ve had people stop me in the elevator to ask where I got them. Get your shoes to an influential person in any capacity and it spreads by word of mouth.

  15. chartreuse Says:

    A woman brings some sense to the proceedings…
    Thanks Candice.
    BTW, I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to use your Mardi Gras pics.

    Underpromise and overdeliver.
    Wise words. The same holds true when dealing with ex-wives as well…

  16. Erik Says:

    “The same holds true when dealing with ex-wives as wellโ€ฆ”

    I got that T-Shirt too (or half of the T-Shirt, the ex has the other half…)

  17. Lucinda Says:

    just wanted to say that i love your stuff (or a lot of it anyway) – refreshing new voice.
    re: this post, screw the details, your main point is 100% on. ask english cut or stormhoek.
    having lived through 1.0 (i personally laid off over 100 people when it ended), i’m sick of hearing about 1.0. in 1.0 our company made a lot of money helping big companies spend a lot. in 2.0 our company is growing quickly helping companies earn a lot of profit. this time isn’t the same, and it’s not just because of tag clouds.

  18. Barry Bell Says:

    Agree to a point. But it ultimately depends on who your target audience is. Which then depends on what your product is.

    If your shoes are the kind of shoes that would be worn by people who have the nous to blog about them, and take pictures of them, and video them, and recommend them virally, etc, etc, etc, then yep, it probably would (and often does) work.

    But what if your shoe isn’t that kind of shoe? We’re still at the point where the overwhelming majority of the population *doesn’t* pick up product recommendations this way. And the most effective way to target (and sell to) these people is still through traditional advertising.

    It’s like saying that the real future of driving is Hover Cars. And it’s also like saying that “If I was designing and launching a car today, I wouldn’t include wheels in my design”.

    Sure, it might work for some people, but to almost everyone else, it’s still a no-no.

    For a few years at least.

  19. chartreuse Says:

    If there was a car without wheels which looked cool I would buy it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Barry Bell Says:

    Me too, come to think of it.


  21. It there was a car without wheels which looked cool I would get the future ex-husband to buy it. And then I’ll pilfer it.

  22. Brian Says:

    Hey Char, although he may sound like me a bit, I promise that Erik is not me in anon mode! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. raj Says:

    The question is, why would I give a hoot about your company’s shoe blog? I’d have to be pretty damn stupid (or loyal) to care about your opinion about your own shoes. On the other hand, if your shoe blog maybe compared other manufacturers and gave me hard evidence why yours were better, maybe I’d listen.

    Tell me what I want to know. I once I had a plan to walk around the world for 10 years straight. I may still carry through with that plan someday. And if I do, I’d want to know which shoes I should buy, how to keep my circulation constant, are they waterproof, etc. If your company’s shoe blog had a case study about someone who’s already walked 500 miles in their shoes, I’d have even more respect for the blog. If you went one step further and had some weird sponsorship program for people who planned long journeys, even better. In that case, I might even be reading your blog via my Palm Treo smartphone while on my journey.

    So, when a company publishes a blog, make damn sure it’s not 100% self-serving, or I’ll never be back to read it. And no doubt, other first-time visitors won’t be back either. Be creative, inventive, and informative.

  24. Mick Says:

    My ex-wife was so fat-arsed, her shoes didn’t last five minutes.

    Google “Fat arsed women” for my thoughts… #1 answer.


  25. […] We are watching the death of advertising and media as we knew it, in real time, right before our eyes. […]

  26. EsseA Says:

    Kids, today and yesterday, don’t want to be told what they like.

    Kids, today just like yesterday, can be manipulated into liking what other peers like, or what is portrayed (through any mean) in a way that would make them like it,

    Things are changing, but some basic insights into the human minds and heart stay unchanged.

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