Advertising Done Right: Trust and Jason Calacanis

I recently spoke with someone who does digital advertising and I told her I probably have not clicked on a banner ad (intentionally) since I was 12. She admitted the same. I consider TV commercials a suggestion to talk with friends, check Twitter or find a snack. Honestly, I find most ads to be un-trustworthy, disruptive and annoying.

The idea of curation, trust and hand selection almost never apply to ad sellers. Instead, auctions rule. I think ads would be much better if the ad seller would thoughtfully picked an ad and then stands by their decision. And instead of blasting consumers with 15 things and hoping something sticks, carefully select just a few. The UX would maintain its aesthetics and the ads would become more effective.

The best example is Jason Calacanis on his This Week in Startups show. He carefully picks products that he uses and loves. In addition, he personally vouches for the product and there are only a few per episode. I have actually written down companies he has suggested that I do not need today, but might in the future. I trust his recommendations that much. Compare that level of trust and interest to another ad that measures impressions and converts less than 1% of viewers.

Of course, this type of ads work for mediums that have niche followings and a trusted voice. I am not suggesting that Twitter or Google could or should do this. However, any form of media that has a relatively homogenous following can and should do this. I think it will be better for advertisers, consumers and media owners.

The counter argument against this is that it might not be economical. Perhaps selling viewers attention to the highest bidders is simply more profitable than curating a few helpful suggestions. In all fairness, I have no idea what the economics look like for many of these businesses. Perhaps, Jason can help share numbers to back this up. My guess is that this is only profitable if you look at viewer churn on a long enough time horizon. It also may take a few reduced price curated ad sells to convince the buyers using case studies that curation and trust really is worth more.

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