Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Former Future of Advertising

I just finished reading a great little book called The Future of Advertising: New Approaches to the Attention Economy. The outcome of a conference organized in late 1996 (!!!) by the Aspen Institute, the slim volume is largely based on the discussions at the event. Participants included folks such as Stewart Alsop, Jeffrey Dachis, Michael Goldhaber, and Evan Schwartz.

In many ways, the book is a quaint artifact of that time. To be entirely honest, online advertising doesn't seem to have made a heck of a lot of progress in the last 10 years, and many of the key themes, ideas, and concerns addressed more than a decade ago at this gathering are just as important today. That could mean that they're universal and really important -- for example, privacy -- or that we just haven't done that much to address or build on them.

Regardless, it's a great read. Richard Adler served as "rapporteur" for the discussion, and his 44-page essay is one of the best introductions to modern advertising and synopses of its pain points that I've encountered. Any newcomer to advertising, online and offline, would be well served to get this book. And any longtimer might welcome the quick refresh and reminder that the book could bring.

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