For a century or more, advertising and journalism have been two separate but closely related industries. Advertising and journalism needed each other. Now that it’s 2019, is this still true? Or have the two industries morphed into a grotesque new ad tech-dependent creature?
Whatever the answer, both industries are losing so much ground so fast that neither seems capable of helping the other. Maybe this is the problem: marketers have built an altar to data, and no one bothered to stop them, least of all their agency partners.
The question remains, has more and better data made a significant difference at the cash register? Has more and better data moved people to gather in tribes and bond with people and product?
Here’s another pertinent question from my friend Bob Hoffman…
How badly are media company’s missing their marks?
Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic, paints a not pretty picture.
There have been layoffs across Vox Media, Vice, and BuzzFeed (and dubious talk of an emergency merger). Mic, once valued at $100 million, fired most of its staff and sold for $5 million. Verizon took a nearly $5 billion write-down on its digital media unit, which includes AOL and Yahoo. Reuters announced plans to lay off more than 3,000 people in the next two years. The disease seems widespread, affecting venture-capital darlings and legacy brands, flattening local news while punishing international wires. Almost no one is safe, and almost everyone is for sale.
In the “no one is safe” category, after 80 years in mailboxes and newsstands, Glamour will stop publishing its glossy monthly, ending with the January issue. Also, last July, The New York Daily News, once the country’s largest-circulation newspaper, slashed the editorial staff in half. Employees – many in tears – learned whether they would lose their jobs when they were summoned to The News’ downtown Manhattan newsroom for a 9 a.m. meeting.
In the “everyone is for sale” category, I can relate. I entered talks to sell Adpulp to an interested party several years ago, but I backed away when the numbers were wrong and I realized that I wasn’t ready to sell. Nevertheless, the reality of building a brand, a business and/or an audience is to make it worth something in monetary terms, so it can be sold someday.
One Reporter Gathers What Another Reporter Spills
The vanishing press is a problem for society. It’s also a massive business challenge for the entire media industry, which includes advertising and PR. In the wake of massive disruption, innovation is no longer an option, it’s a matter of survival.
Derek Thompson again notes how much is up for grabs today.
As the news business shifts back from advertisers to patrons and readers (that is to say, subscribers), journalism might escape that ‘view from nowhere’ purgatory and speak straightforwardly about the world in a way that might have seemed presumptuous in a mid-century newspaper. Journalism could be more political again, but also more engaging again.
Personally, I love to “speak straightforwardly about the world in a way that might have seemed presumptuous in a mid-century newspaper,” and Adpulp is the place where I do this on a daily basis.
Way the Hell Off Madison
Adpulp, unlike Adweek and Ad Age, has never been made in Manhattan.
I’ve worked on the fringes of the agency business for years. It’s something that benefits Adpulp’s editorial product. I am interested in people who are doing amazing things, but my definition of amazing isn’t the same as a judge at Cannes. To me, the more interesting story is about the hard-working ad grunt in a second- or third-tier market who is every bit as talented and accomplished as the people who dominate the awards circuit.
Generally speaking, the harder it is to clear the high bar, the more I want to know and the more likely I am to lift that story up here. [If you have a story like this to share or you want to write one, pitch me at [email protected]]
A friend recently suggested that Adpulp’s best days have come and gone. I always appreciate an honest conversation, and we had one. While I agree with my friend that it’s no longer 2004 and Adpulp isn’t the shiny new title on the hill, I disagree that we are done innovating or done appealing to a significant number of people working in media, marketing and advertising.