Wednesday, January 24, 2024

If all ads have moved digital. Where are they?

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

All right, my sample could be flawed so statistically not reliable. But, what's with all ads having "moved digital" - where may I ask are they? Normally my instagram should be an indicator: Whenever I open it, and as I scroll through stories, ads should be appearing there. Are they? Well, there Massimo Dutti (oddly I am offered the women's section of the sale, go figure!), then a couple of local shoe brands, one major discount outlet in Kaslik, and ultimately when I go and see images Rectangle Jaune seems to be on sale.

Well, truth be told either it is me and my feed or there are barely any ads to speak of digitally. Wait, maybe like all the cool kids they have migrated to Tiktok (where I am not truth be told). Seriously though, what's with everyone assuming that all ads are digital, where are those ads? I still see accounts selling their items online - outlet this and discounted brand that. We all know that this what shopping has been like since the pandemic. Sure, footfall does exist in actual stores but shopping online has been the norm for many. 

I am not saying there are no ads online in Lebanon, but there seems to be an over-projection as to how many. Perhaps the Gulf is in better shape than the Lebanese market - after all they have more disposable income (I hear that in Kuwait you have a 2-hour queue in front of Cartier - and that's the upscale jeweler in case you are confused!). But again, something seems fishy on the local scene. I guess it all goes back to how much people are willing to spend. That the crisis is ongoing in Lebanon is a fact. Say you are shopping for a turtleneck, you will most likely see items from China (if you dress Large you ask for the XXL to compensate for the size difference). Will you see ads for them? Unlikely, but there are shops online that specialize in such items (said turtleneck cost 10 USD at this point).

Once more, I feel there is a confusing element here. Maybe there is enough customers without attracting more ads. Maybe "outlet" stores have enough people dropping by without having to display their wares - I do see ads for such stores, but these are mainly in the line of "new kids outfits have dropped" (and you see a selection on hangers being displayed in a 5-7 interval). Or it could be the Shein effect - people are ordering direct from shein (but considering this requires a credit card not sure how this works - although there are sites that could order on your behalf and you "pay on delivery"). 

Maybe what am asking is - there are ads here and here. Mostly homegrown (meaning shot by the client itself) probably by some skeletal team that does everything from shooting to editing to posting to the caption to the tags and the whole shebang. So where do "agencies" fall in this? Remember, the companies that used to spend like nobody's business - banks and car agencies are no longer in the market. No one wants to hear of banks that robbed people blind and no one has enough cash for new models of cars. So the main actors of the field have pseudo-vanished.

So I am not sure where agencies stand on this particularly that online ads need no booking or price negotiating and that most companies seem to do them in-house. It all feels like a paradox.