The Gap between Usage & Advertising

A striking phenomenon in digital media is the often huge gap between consumer usage and advertiser adoption. For example it took years after consumers adopted the Internet in earnest for advertisers to start shifting dollars accordingly. In local it’s still the case that most ad dollars remain in traditional media.

Mobile is another example of this: 70 million mobile Internet users and agencies and advertisers are just waking up to the medium. Among newer platforms, social networks are perhaps an even more glaring example. Facebook has nearly 300 million users globally and advertisers are still pretty tentative about it. They should be aggressively in there experimenting and figuring out what best works and what doesn’t.

A MediaPost survey does indicate that social networks are at the top of the list for next year in terms of marketing/ad spending. However, we’ll believe when we see it.

There’s lots more to say and perhaps lots of survey and usage data I could use to support my argument (rushing off to a conference this morning however). But I’m just struck by the fact that it often takes advertisers literally years to recognize and adapt to consumer behavior shifts.

Why is that? Who disagrees or thinks I’m completely wrong?

8 Responses to “The Gap between Usage & Advertising”

  1. Tim Cohn Says:

    Production of “Social Network” Kool-Aid has sprung into high gear.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    There is value there people haven’t yet really figured it out from a marketing perspective, although SMBs are ahead of the game perhaps when it comes to Facebook pages

  3. John Sullivan Says:


    The shift takes so long with SMBs because no one represents the Internet locally.

    In a month a typical retailer will get several calls or in-person visits from the local paper, several radio stations, a cable rep, an outdoor rep and even a printer selling direct mail. No one walks in and says, “Hi, I’m from the Internet and let me tell you how it can work for you.”

    Plus, there are years and years of infrastructure built around selling, producing and implementing traditional media. They aren’t going away without a fight.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree but it’s even true at the national level in many cases.

  5. Tim Cohn Says:

    Maybe for brands but I doubt it will ever materialize for SMBs.

  6. Jessica Says:

    Your statements that nobody represents the SMB internet market locally is not accurate… As is the statement that reps don’t walk into businesses selling internet strategies, inaccurate.
    As an internet marketing consultant, you have described the last few years of my career. It is exactly part of my job to walk into businesses and specifically ask them about their presence online and if they will allow me to put them in front of the people that are currently looking for them online, on the major publishers, and right in their back yard (locally), as well as allow me to help them with their local brand awareness.
    Social media, of course is also part of that conversation but most people have not yet mastered this medium for marketing their business. However, they have heard of it and are experimenting with it (maybe Facebook for their personal life?!). The GAP is not as large as we think it is, I don’t think…social media and SEM, for example, is much different than adapting from print directories to the internet… The internet is a whole different animal; its own animal!
    The reason people don’t adapt more quickly? They don’t know the value…or how the ROI could translate into their business (as they have known it).

  7. Streky Says:

    Agree with it really. Also many people advertise via facebook only because of displays they think they get many views and stuff (My Thoughts)

  8. Devin Davis Says:

    Of course there is a gap – my belief is that it comes down, mostly, to familiarity.

    The same reason a lot of local advertisers still spend thousands of dollars on “traditional media” when online would almost certainly give them a better return is really pretty simple – its what they’ve always done. They have a relationship with their CRM, local newspaper/TV ad salesperson…and it’s easier to just give the nod and keep with the status quo.

    Moving to a new medium for advertising requires convincing – or a sea change from your competitors.

    In short – yes, I would agree. There is most definitely a gap when it comes to usage of a media (internet, mobile) and advertisers, particularly local ones, moving there.

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