Online advertising sucks and we need to fix it

I’m a believer in everything that’s written in this post over at Cogblog.  I believe it so much that I’m surprised I didn’t write it:

My new theory as to why this is: Advertising online sucks.  It simply doesn’t work as well as advertising on TV.  So TV is getting a disproportionate amount of advertising dollars relative to its media consumption because it works better than online advertising.  And that is not too surprising.  728x90s suck.  They don’t tell a story.  They are like tiny magazine ads.

And to make things more frustrating, everyone is working on incremental products and services.  But the upside to that is there’s a huge opportunity out there waiting for a solution:

Everything that I see in the market is evolutionary and incremental, but this is not the time for incremental.  We are in the first inning.  You are not standing on the shoulders of giants, you are standing on a speck of dust.  There is so much room for change that we need people to swing for the fences.

I tried to explain this to a celebrity VC last year and he just didn’t get it.  I tell that story to show that it’s really difficult to understand the essence of the message here unless you really know the industry well.  There’s so much hidden meaning for us in the phrase “visionary industry breakthrough” than there is to an outsider.

I’ve been after a good analogy for a long time and the best one I’ve seen so far is Chris Dixon’s post on the local maxima problem.

At any given moment, take a step in the direction that takes you higher. The risk with this method is if you happen to start near the lower hill, you’ll end up at the top of that lower hill, not the top of the tallest hill.

Online advertising is on that lower hill but we need to get to that higher one.  But everyone (entrepreneurs, VCs, etc.) is busy hanging out on the lower hill.


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