Where the people go, advertisers will follow.  Why pay for an ad at the end of a never traveled dead-end street?  The purpose of advertising is to reach people with your message.  And now "Forrester: Interactive Marketing to grow 11% to $25.6 Billion in 2009" reports MediaPost.com.  When print advertising is dropping (direct mail down 40%, newspaper down 35% and magazines down 28%), the on-line market is growing and expected to reach over $50billion by 2014. Search ads is the biggest, with over half the market, but social media is expected to grow the fastest at over 34%/year.

Such a market shift indicates that those who buy ads need to be very savvy about what works.  Like I said, you don't want to be the fool who jumps into billboards, only to get placed on the one at the end of a dead-end road.  Success means Disrupting your assumptions about advertising, and learning what work by entering White Space with tests and measurements.

In "Mobile Marketing Won't Work Here" Bret Berhoft explains why GenY simply won't tolerate intrusive ads – especially on their mobile devices.  Social media are different conduits, with different users and different behaviors.  Where older folks (and our parents) were content to be interrupted by ads – such as on TV – the avid users of new media aren't.  And they've been known to create counter-movements attacking advertisers that don't adhere to their on-line behavior requirements.

What won't work is trying to do what Sears has done. Instead of learning how people use social media, and how you can connect with them to meet their needs, "Sears to Launch Social Networking Sites" we learn.  Where everybody is using Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linked-in, etc., Sears decided to open two new sites called MySears.com and MyKmart.com.  They hope people will go to these sites, register, and tell stories about their experiences in both retail chains.  Then Sears intends to flow through good comments to Sears.com and KMart.com sites.

The horribly Locked-in Sears management keeps trying to Defend & Extend its outdated model.  As people have left Sears and KMart in droves for competitors, they aren't looking for a site to "connect" with other people who are Sears centric.  People use social networks to learn, grow, exchange ideas, keep up with trends.  They don't register for a site because their parents used to shop there. 

Sears has missed the basics of Disrupting its old Success Formula, so it keeps trying to apply it in ways that don't work. It keeps doing what it always did, only trying to do it in new places. These sites aren't White Space projects trying to participate in the social networks that are growing (like everything from illness questions to home how-tos).  Rather, they are still trying to take the position that Sears is at the center of the world, and people want to be part of Sears.

Exactly how advertisers will capture the attention of participants still isn't clear.  Some ideas have gone "viral" producing mega-returns for minimal investments.  Other ideas have flopped despite big spending.  The market is shifting, and variables keep changing (Marketers Search for Social Media Metric.)  But for those who Disrupt their old Lock-ins, those who attack their assumptions, they can use White Space to learn what does work

"Pizza Hut 'Twintern' to Guide Twitter Presence" is a great example of creating White Space to study social media advertising by participating.  The new position will interact with Twitter users, and be a leader in how to interact with Facebook and other sites – even the notorious YouTube! where user content can include the very bizarre.  By participating where the customers are, these leaders can develop insights to how you can consistently advertise effectively.  Already Sony and Dell have demonstrated they can achieve high recall (Word of Mouth goes Far Beyond Social Media) beyond Social Media with their on-line efforts.  These participants, who Disrupt their assumptions and bring in others to work in White Space will be the winners because they aren't trying to Defend & Extend the old Success Formula.  They are trying to create a new one to which they can migrate the old business.