John Robb has an interesting perspective on trust-based, targetted advertising based on his experiences at Gomez during the heady days of the Internet gold rush.

Nobody believes advertisements any more. There’s a lot of evidence that advertising just doesn’t work, no matter how targetted, so if you have a product to sell you have no choice but to get into the editorial side, where consumers’ defenses are lowered. Product placements are one example of this.

There is an unfortunate tragedy of the commons, here. When advertising first rose to prominence, advertisements did work. We hadn’t built up our immunities yet. As more and more advertisers used the opportunity of the medium to lie, we learned not to trust advertisements. But we still trust editorial. And once editorial gets polluted by desperate marketers using PR instead of advertising to promote their message, nobody will believe it either.

About the author.

In 2000 I co-founded Fog Creek Software, where we created lots of cool things like the FogBugz bug tracker, Trello, and Glitch. I also worked with Jeff Atwood to create Stack Overflow and served as CEO of Stack Overflow from 2010-2019. Today I serve as the chairman of the board for Stack Overflow, Glitch, and HASH.