Advertising sucks, let's face it. Since the era of the snappy jingles and clever TeeVee ads touted in the series Madmen, advertising has gone downhill. But still, major advertisements on television are at least for what could be considered legitimate companies - even if they are pushing bad bargains like SUV leases and frequent-flyer miles credit cards.
But at least they are companies you have heard of - major corporations and brands.
Many online "Social Networking" sites, on the other hand, while claiming to have hundreds of millions of members, and claiming to snag hours of eyeballs a day, have ads for... crapola.
Consider this sampling, taken today, from Facebook:
We're hiring! Dex One sales team for marketing via Search engines, iPhone Apps, Mobile - a $1 Billion digital media company.JOIN NOW
Enter your name to find out if someone is searching for you on MyLife
Look Up profiles from the Class of 1977 now. Reconnect with friends from high school today.
Support Georgia health by getting your FREE diabetes awareness bracelet. Just enter your zip code (limit 1 per person).
If you're a man; we need you! Companies ask us to deliver their free samples. Hundreds to choose from. Get started here!
Make $100+ per night! Rent out your spare room!
Now, some of these are just outright cons - survey scams and the like. No, MyLife can't tell you who is "searching for you" - but they might charge your credit card a lot of money. Actually, if you search any of the companies listed above (and it took me all of 10 minutes to harvest these side-bar ads, just by hitting "refresh" a few times) ANDed with the word "Scam" you will see some interesting data.
Even the ones that are not outright scams are just survey bait and other timewasters and SPAM generators. Only idiots would click on those links!
The point is, where are the big heavy hitters here? If Facebook is so damned popular, why aren't the Fortune 500 advertising on it? I mean, I guess I understand why GM doesn't - they're still licking their wounds. But I would think you'd see a lot of car companies on social networking sites - given their claims for eyeballs and users. After all, the car companies use saturation advertising on television.
Or you know, what about a computer company? I would think Dell or HP might advertise - after all, the users are computer users.
What about Restaurant chains? Delivery Pizza? Introverted online social networkers would seem like a natural market for these sorts of companies. Why bother cooking? Stay on Facebook another two hours and CLICK HERE to order a pizza!
Why not? Why not, indeed?
And this is where the media hype about Facebook and other "hot" money-losing "dot com" stocks hits reality. If this really was the "next big thing" - doncha think Corporate America would be jumping on the bandwagon?
Perhaps after the Second Life debacle, advertisers are reluctant to jump onto these social networking sites. Many companies made a big splash on Second Life (IBM had its own continent) and then nothing happened - they spend a ton of money and made three sales. Bubkis.
And perhaps also, if you are a mainstream company, like Chevrolet or Toyota, you don't want ads for your cars right next to "one trick of the tiny belly!" or "Obama wants Moms to go back to school!"
There is a sleaze factor at work here. Quality advertisers don't want to be parked next to the ghetto. And that is the problem for Facebook and other social media sites. If the advertising base remains so, well, lower-class, it will never take off with mainstream advertisers - advertisers who are willing to spend a lot of money - and spend it consistently over time - for quality ad space in a legitimate forum.
In the meantime, as I noted before, this prevalance of crappy companies advertising online serves like police tape - it warns us to "Stay Back - Bad Bargains Ahead!"
You can just about assume that anything advertised on the Internet is a complete and utter rip-off, period.
Keep that in mind, and you'll stay out of a lot of trouble.
P.S. - the prevalence of crappy advertisers on Facebook is one reason I don't use it anymore. It has all the charm of a sleazy Russian porn site. Not that I would know what that looks like, of course.