Friday, May 29, 2009

“Advertising Is The Price You Pay For Having An Unremarkable Product Or Service.”

The headline above is a quote from Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com’s annual shareholders meeting on Thursday.

According to those in attendance, it caused the audience to go silent.

I’m wondering if those in the ad industry will also remain silent in regards to the quote.

At its core, there’s an element of truth to it.

That said, most of the products that Mr. Bezos sells at amazon.com have been advertised somewhere before.

In other words, without advertising, Mr. Bezos company wouldn’t exist. Amazon.com, more than most companies, is a complete by-product of the advertising machine.

In fact, it could be argued that amazon.com is nothing but advertising. Go to amazon.com and the Kindle is available for purchase on the home page. Where, by the way, you can read 3,828 customer reviews about the product. And, where there is an adjacent video, also known as an advertisement, promoting the Kindle.

Which means, at least according to Mr. Bezos, that the Kindle must be an unremarkable product. Of course, I don’t think that's what he was proposing.

What I do think Mr. Bezos was trying to say is that the way we get information about products is changing. And today, those 3,828 reviews might be more impactful that 3,828 advertising impressions.

With so much information so easily available about so many products, advertising has been reduced to the status of an opinion. And, because it is an opinion that’s being expressed by the manufacturer of the product, it’s taken with a grain of salt.

Other equally valid opinions are now also readily available. In the case of Kindle, 3,828 of them.

Which is why I think that what Mr. Bezos meant to say isn’t that advertising's not important anymore.

But rather, that the definition of what advertising is, and how it works, has changed forever.

It's an easy assertation to prove for yourself. Just go to amazon.

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