The current newspaper business revenue crisis has led to some old ideas being dusted off and presented as new (Paid content! Micropayments! Preservation of print circulation!), and who knows? Maybe some of the experiments rumored and foreshadowed in Long Island and Seattle and across the Hearst Empire will net some needed dollars for the ongoing operations.
But what about advertising, which remains a huge part of any revenue strategy? Surely the banner ad isn’t the sum total of our creativity in commerce? Google couldn’t have managed to build the most perfect form of commercial speech on their first try, could they? Where is the creativity in commercials? How can local newspaper companies — with their deep ties into their communities, their newsrooms full of subject-matter experts, and their platoons of sales people — have managed to not move the needle more than a few notches in 15 years of building and selling ads online?
I was wondering this last week as found my mind drifting away from the evening clot of sheet metal and tires inching northwards toward the ‘burbs and thinking about the life of Albert Einstein. My Einstein reverie wasn’t out of the blue; it was prompted by an equal parts funny and entertaining riff by The Chicago Sun-Times’s tech columnist Andy Ihnatko, who was recommending — at length — an audio book about the atomic genius.
And here’s the point: it was an ad. It’s part of a weekly feature on the popular podcasts from Leo Laporte’s TWiT network in which journalist panelists on the showstep ever-so-slightly out of their traditional roles to talk about a book that they love that happens to be available for download as part of an Audible.com subscription.
Listen below as Ihnatko and Laporte talk about Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson.
Forget TiVo-proof 30-second spots, that’s a 12-minute ad! Or, to be more precise, it’s 10 minutes of interesting and entertaining content that happens to also be the largest part of an ad.