We’re Taking The Concept of “Brand Impressions” Much Too Lightly

My friend Tom Asacker perked up when I wrote this the other day: “As a result of this digital vastness we now face a massive content hole, because millions of web pages are nothing without content. Yet, the content hole is actually much bigger than what we see online. And content marketing is much bigger than affixing pixels.”

Tom replied, “Content hole?” More like content glut.”


It’s a subject recently addressed.

The dirty secret about the web media business is that there’s a massive oversupply problem. Everyday, content creators are producing more journalism, more think-pieces, more interactive graphics, more photo galleries, more tweets, more slideshows, more videos, more GIFs, and more deviously socially-optimized Corgi listicles. All of that is being distributed via more channels on more devices. This creates more supply for display ads, web media’s favorite and still growing revenue generator. All that supply, however, drags down ad prices.

What else is all this oversupply of content dragging down?

One can argue the oversupply is destroying our ability to concentrate, to find things, to remember things, to discern quality from trash. I believe these things to be true; so why do I advocate for more (and better) content from my clients and also produce a wealth of content here? Because I believe in content and its power to connect people and motivate people.

But given the situation at hand, where information of questionable quality creates an ever-growing heap of mostly useless matter and as a result massive attention deficits from coast to coast, what is a brand to do? My suggestion: Transcend the boundaries of media altogether and make meaningful connections in real life through progressive-minded, long-term experiential programming.

Great advertising remains a necessary part of the mix, as always. The additive layer and new standard for a hyper-connected world comprised of communities of interest is for brands to make an impact on the ground where people live, not just on the screens they monitor and use throughout the day. For instance, music education in public schools is faltering and in many cases disappearing. Instead of waiting for countless and controversial taxable solutions to solve the problem, the right brand might adopt this cause, divert significant funds from advertising and solve the problem by filling music rooms with new instruments and teachers. That’s making a real impact and unforgettable difference, and courting brand loyalty on a one-to-one scale that scales.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.