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Jeff Jarvis thinks advertising is failure. What do you think?

This talk by Jeff Jarvis on the future of marketing and advertising was made at the recent Brite Conference at Columbia Business School.  It’s well worth the 21 minute investment to watch it.

Jarvis’s central thought is that advertising is failure.  It’s merely an inadequate replacement for what should be an ongoing exchange between the people running companies and the people that buy those companies’ products and services.  In an online world where new social media technologies are enabling these direct conversations to happen, Jarvis asks a fundamental question:  Will advertising, as “middleman,” still have a role to play?

I think it will, and Jarvis at the end of his talk essentially acknowledges that it will.  But it does make you imagine that what will serve brands better in future is less what we think of as advertising, and more about simply spreading the word to people who care.  It will depend upon connected consumers to pass messages along, which in turn will place a greater premium than in the past on messages that are engaging and entertaining through great stories, or interactivity, or elements of gaming, or who knows what.  And encouraging consumers to mash-up and modify the content in order to give it their personal spin.

I think there will continue to be a role for advertising, but its role will change, and with it, the nature of advertising itself.

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