by: Alain Thys

Imagine you’re a consumer and you leaf through your favourite magazine.  Suddenly you see a brand that interests you.  Hey, maybe it’s that product you always wanted but never thought existed.  Living in the 21st century, your instant reaction is to go online and find out more about it.  But have you ever noticed that in spite of all the web two-point-naught hubbub, most of the ads you look at don’t carry a URL?

Now what does that say about brands?  Don’t they want us to interact with them?  Are they afraid we might do something drastic and - after a few online clicks - actually buy the product that was advertised.

Or about the agencies?  After all the talk about “being digital”, are they forgetting to advise their customers about the multi-channel reality?  Or have they become so cynical that they assume a print ad is not going to have any effect anyway?

I’m working on a remake of I Am the Media, so I asked one of our bright and diligent researchers to do a count of the last 4 months of print campaigns on Ads of the World.  And the gut feeling was confirmed.  70% of them didn’t contain any URL.

I cannot believe that I’m writing this in AD 2008 but: “A URL on a print advert should be the default option.  Only if it really doesn’t make any sense, it should be removed.”  If you manage to capture a potential customer’s attention, you don’t want to let go.

It does make me wonder though. Is all this talk about conversations, communities, engagement, … still in the fringes?  Are we just a little in-crowd of believers talking to each other?  Do the customers I deal with live in a parallel universe instead of the real – more traditional – market?

Should I tone down I am the Media 2009, and get back to basics?  Any thoughts are welcome.

UPDATE: Based on the - correct - comment by Stan that Ads of the World is not a representative sample of print advertising I have changed the title to this article to "on AOTW".  Also see comments section below for a wider reply.

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