Apathy – is there an app for that?

In the mid 90’s advertisers built web sites faster than sub-divisions in Nevada. Their premise was the same; build it and they will come and for the brief period that brand web sites were a curiosity, come they did. Their joy was multiplied by the notion that voluntary visitation would reduce marketing expenses by reducing the amount of media they needed to pay for.

As web sites multiplied the curiosity factor ebbed and marketers discovered a whole new expense line item. What do you buy in search and display to drive web traffic? While click rates remained high this seemed reasonable. There was after all a value to getting  people engaged with richer experiences and deeper brand engagement. The inevitable followed. Click rates declined, visitation to brand web sites declined and marketers realized that only those sites that informed complex purchase decisions, offered a service of value or permitted transactions were worth supporting with traffic driving dollars.

So it’s 2009. Facebook profiles are free, consumers are curious, marketers are happy because exposure is free again. Umm. Visitation and usage of Facebook applications and profiles turn out to be hard to establish and sustain, it also seems that marketing in a 500 friend stream is challenging, so marketers turn to Engagement ads to do just that. How long will it take for them to realize that the bar for continued interaction is every bit as high here as it was on the web and how long before the Darwinian nature of consumer apathy forces reconsideration of the value of most profiles and renders many that do exist as the digital equivalent of space junk?

This poses simple questions and complex demanding solutions. Sadly…there’s no app for that. Luckily there are agencies.

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