The Riddle

It makes no sense that television works—and yet, $18 billion says it does

This is, many people analyze, just a market anomaly. Not only are digital analytic tools far superior, but the audience has shifted online, so, obviously, the market will account for this and television, and its reliable upfront rituals, will surely be left behind. Of course, logically minded people have been saying this for 10 years without there being a meaningful effect on the television advertising market. Actually, a counter-logic has prevailed: television audiences get smaller; prices get higher.

One theory about the continuing strength of television advertising is that, on TV, the people paying for the ads actually see them, as do their friends and families. The client himself has his own barometer of his ad’s effectiveness and value. Not to mention that being noticed makes him feel good about himself and how he’s spending his money. Online, of course, with so much targeting, it’s quite likely that you and yours will never see the ad you’re paying for.

Interactive people express terrible hurt here: they make the valid point that they are not really even making ads. They don’t do “story.” Theirs is a back-end operation, facilitating transactions, building sale- and brand-enhancing functionality, imagining and implementing the digital handshake between seller and consumer—the more transparent the better. Hence, then, they probably should not have called what they’re doing advertising since the most elemental point about advertising is to be noticed.

Anyway, here we are: 15 years into our ability to measure the absolute effectiveness of the way and the methods by which we sell something, and, still, TV advertising, which measures nothing, guarantees no sales, offers no data, registers no interest, quantifies no desire, provides no follow-up, and which no sentient being watches anyway, is making more money than ever before.
Waste works.