When the internet was born some 20 years ago it changed the business of advertising in unimaginable ways. Major
advertising agencies saw the earth quake before them as new inexpensive forms of advertising on the web appeared, much of it free. The world would no longer be dominated by TV, radio and print. Advertising would move to cyberspace in its search for eyeballs. Small companies now had the opportunity with limited advertising budgets to create a website every bit as good or better than the biggest companies in the world and stand toe to toe competing for business. The internet was to be the great equalizer. Advancing forward to today, much has changed. The internet may have humbled the corporate goliaths of the past, but that doesn’t mean we have rid our world of giants.
The great equalizer has created two new giants:
The first being the gatekeepers of the web, in the rise of Microsoft and Apple. The second being a giant mass of small and medium sized companies who compete for ad space on web pages.
The first real innovation in advertising at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st was the development of key word search and clicks. Although a company called Overture, which was acquired by Yahoo, invented the idea of selling key words on search engines, Google took the idea to a new art form. Where in the 1990’s you could buy a key search word for your industry for nickels and dimes, by 2015 those words were selling for 10’s of dollars for each click they received.
In my industry, words like factoring or factors, which the average person has never heard of, has gone from 90 cents a click in the 1990’s to as high as $40 today. That’s just for a click, not a customer. If you assume that you can convert 1 in 20 clicks to a customer, which is high by the way, that’s $800 for a customer acquisition. Even the sites that appear to be free such as and Instagram can cost you dearly in unrealized ways. No longer are you competing for attention in your particular industry, you now compete with virtually everyone on the planet to get your voice heard. To yell loud enough costs money in time, labor, and ad placement. As it is with any new innovation, it is in constant change.
Remember that army of small businesses I mentioned? They are all competing in driving up advertising costs and looking for new avenues to place their budgets and raise their voices over the crowd so there is no shortage of tech entrepreneurs inventing places for them to put their money. In the mid to latter part of the 20th century, only the biggest of companies could take advantage of standard media channels, today anyone can compete for space on the web. Whereas in the 20th century maybe 100 major companies competed for ad space, now in the 21st century there are maybe a 100 million companies competing to get out their message.
The field has gotten crowded and expensive my friend. We have come full circle where the internet, the great equalizer, has become the “great black hole” for most and the masses are being drowned out no longer by money, but by the very technology that was supposed to save them.