Arts & Commerce: Promised Land.Com

Internet banner ads suck, says Jeff Goodby. But the creative revolution is coming
Recently, The Wall Street Journal quoted some research by Jupiter Communications that showed “click throughs” on banner ads had fallen to a quarter of what they were in 1997. In other words, online advertising is failing. Fast.
Nevertheless, we continue to hear that the future of online advertising is a massively happy place. Forrester Research claims we’ll all be shelling out $22 billion in online ads by 2004. Web ads will account for 8 percent of the whole damn ad industry, they say.
To all this I say a resounding, “Well, maybe.” But a lot is going to have to change to make this giddy picture even a remote possibility.
To begin with, banner ads suck. In fact, the whole visual landscape of the Internet is ugly, amateurish and inhuman. Thus, the failure of banner ads is only an inevitable first step in an upcoming revolution on the Net. Hopefully, that revolution will open Internet spaces, allowing them to carry more beauty, entertainment and information. This is not the revolution, however. Instead, it’s the time marker, the thing that will get us to that moment when the real revolution hits: bit-streaming video that will allow people to download video messages quickly and at will.
The big question is: How long will that take? Hence, the Goodby Internet Patience Gap. (I’ve named it after myself because it might be wrong.) The Net will soon experience a moment of insecurity. The imagination-starved banner world will be perceived as less reliable. But the bit- streaming technology won’t be here yet.
What will happen in that time? The answer, surprisingly, may lie in the past. Remember when the Net was going to bring on The End Of Advertising As We Know It? It became fashionable to predict the death of the TV spot, the demise of mass advertising in general.
Of course, it didn’t happen. Instead, we’re experiencing a burgeoning in mass advertising beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. There are two reasons for this.
First, we suddenly realized (duh) that interactive advertising might be great for bouncing people around the Net, but if you wanted people to log on to your site, you were going to get Lee Clow or Cliff Freeman to make you a good, old-fashioned American TV ad.
Second, there’s a special excitement in seeing something we know millions of others are watching at the same time. Lonely Net ads can’t stir this kind of passion at the watercooler the next day.
Thus, I predict the Goodby Internet Patience Gap will be filled by the diversion of even more funding to mass advertising. This is good news for people like me, of course. But nowhere near as good as what bit streaming is going to bring a few years from now.
The new Net advertising will be the most voluntary advertising ever created. The consumer will have to set it in motion–by punching a button or, in the larger sense, by deciding to visit a site in the first place. This structure will put a premium on creativity the likes of which the world has never seen.
Think about it. There will be no reason to actively seek out a message that isn’t entertaining and informative. Those who rely on appealing to the lowest common denominator will be outta here.
In other words, bubba, you won’t just be in the cleanser or car business. You’ll be in the entertainment business. Or you won’t be in any business at all.
I very much like the sound of this. Should I wake up now?