Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Sells Advertising to Advertisers

times-squareGoogle is the most successful advertising company in history. So why is it spending money trying to convince advertisers to spend even more money online?

Google (GOOG), in conjunction with ad agency heavyweight WPP, is plowing $4.6 million into a three-year research program on “how ads in traditional and digital media work together to influence consumer choices,” the WSJ reports.

Translation: Everyone knows that Google’s searchs ads work great when people are searching for stuff. But marketers have yet to be convinced that online ads can help consumers buy stuff they didn’t want, or at least didn’t know they want.

It’s the paradox of online advertising. The Web generates much more sophisticated and accurate tracking data for marketers than traditional advertising ever did. But while an advertiser can’t really be sure exactly how many people saw its TV ad for laundry detergent, many feel more comfortable spending money on a TV campaign than a Web one because they think they know what they’re getting.

And if Google and WPP can convince them otherwise, they’ll get credit for one of the great campaigns in advertising history.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work