Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Net benefit

Teachers of economics explain consumer sovereignty, but are obliged to also explain the huge advertising industry without succumbing to the left's cliche about sinister consumer manipulation. John Wanamaker famously remarked that half of what he spends on advertising is wasted, but he could never figure out which half. But the promise of modern search and data collection techniques is supposed to make it possible to more accurately target ads. Chris Anderson writes about this.

This morning's WSJ includes "Drug Ads' Impact Questioned ... Targeting Consumers Didn't Lift Sales, According to Study ... Consumer advertising for prescription drugs had a negligible impact on sales products studied by Harvard Medical School researchers -- in a finding that may confound both advertisers and their opponents." The study apparently looked at TV ads, but modern marketing is supposed to be all about the discovery of niche sub-markets.

We can continue to hold to the idea that the web and better than ever data exchange are a net gain for consumer sovereignty.