One of the recurring themes by some of the high-level speakers at the 2007 AAF National Convention was the crazy money being spent to snatch up web related ad companies. Another was how to monetize their newley discovered new media vehicle: the web. Yeah, you read me right- they are all rushing to figure out the metrics to quantify the ad buy on the web. Sorry guys- smart advertisers don’t need a third party to tell them if a campaign is working- they get really good stats (much better than Nielsen, the MPA or any other “validation company” ever provided) they have web stats and sales to evaluate.

What is even more sad- was so few of them really had a clue what Web 2.0 is, how it worked, or what it meant to them. Still worried about the silly notion of “control”- they sort of missed the Cluetrain Manifesto back in 1999 while they were busy buying up Web 1.0 companies.

Not only are most ad agency sites not much more than bad brochureware in Flash, most of the excitement about the web is still in an “how do we continue doing business the way we did, only using the web” instead of realizing- your business model is totally broken, start thinking purely about being branded content creators that makes it as earned media- never paid. Yeah, you can try to talk a client into placing ads through DoubleClick- (and get laughed out of the room. Or start talking a language of opt-in, immersive, brand experiences that the consumer builds their personal brand by combining in a unique way.

The endorsers of tomorrow aren’t LeBron James, Oprah or Britney Spears (heaven help us) but every single customer who choses to affiliate themselves with your brand and others- and none of it is under your control.

It’s probably not clear to most people attending the Ad Conference how this post came- since this is a pretty far stretch from most of what was talked about (although I’m looking forward to reading the autographed copy I picked up of Carat Americas, CEO David Verklin’s “Watch This Listen Up Click Here“).

But, this post about a post by Dave Winer- who was the guy who made the cutting edge of Web 2.0 possible (while most other people were still trying to figure out how to install AOL on their computers) about the new digital divide between those who get Web 2.0 and those who don’t:

Dave Winer: “It’s Time for Web 2.0 to Stop Being Exclusive” @ WEB 2.0 JOURNAL
A war of words has broken out in the world of Web 2.0 - between the software developer Dave Winer - who created or was a lead contributor to several of the most popular XML dialects and APIs related to web publishing such as RSS 2.0, XML-RPC, OPML, and the MetaWeblog API - and the founder of O’Reilly Media - the newly self-proclaimed “technology transfer company.”

Winer’s beef? “We need to get all hands involved in what we used to call Web 2.0,” he laments. “It’s time for it to stop being exclusive, and it’s way past time for one company to be controlling who’s supposed to participate.”

Winer’s contention is that events such as “FOO Camp” are harming the greater good, which is to make software easier, better, scalable, more reliable, and more secure, and instead turning Internet technology into an elitist world where it becomes a question not of what you know but who you know.

In Winer’s view, the very future of computing is at stake:

“We need to start doing some real investing in technology, not the BS that passes for technology investing that’s been going on for the last decade.”

In other words, what Winder fears is another Nasdaq run-up, followed by the inevitable explosion:

“But what I do want is to avoid a bloody mess,” he says. “We have work to do here. We have a bubble-pop to avoid.”

Brooklyn-born Winer, who is also the author of one of the first ever weblogs…

The bold italics were added by me- to highlight the big leap ad people need to make- it’s time to start doing real investing in your creative departments, training, molding, challenging your teams to learn how this new paradigm needs to work. It’s time for all of you to get more than six measly pages indexed in Google for your site (like McCann’s site- note McCann bills itself as the largest US agency).

Like it or not, ad agencies today are the buggy whip manufacturers of the turn of the last century. It’s an attention economy, but only for those who understand that it has to be earned, not bought. The more you understand all this, the more Howard Luck Gossage becomes relevant: “People don’t read ads, they read what interests them- and sometimes it’s an ad.”

Well said Howard, too bad you aren’t still here. The bubble’s about to pop, and the sad part is- most won’t understand why.