Would Your Marketing Survive Without Online Ads?

A while back, I wrote an article asking what would we do in business and marketing if everyone abandoned Facebook. That eventuality didn’t pan out, but at the time, it seemed a possibility.

Now, an article from BoingBoing about the prevalence of ad blockers compels me to ask: what would you do in your business without online advertising?

Advertising itself is never going away. If the popularity of ad blockers means the eventual downfall of online display ads (which I don’t believe it necessarily does), some new medium will rise in its place. But what would that rise and fall do to your business model and marketing efforts?

I’m pretty Internet savvy and I use two types of ad blockers; one that blocks ads on most mainstream websites, and a second that hides ads specifically on Facebook.

Yup. You read that right. This Internet marketer is blocking Facebook ads.

And I know I’m not alone. In fact, if they’re not blocking ads, many of my colleagues are specifically trying to spend less time on Facebook for their personal happiness and productivity.

So if you’re trying to reach a certain audience, even if the ad blockers don’t get you, the decline in relevant viewership might.


If you’ve been around this Internet marketing landscape for a while, you’ll know this isn’t the first time some businesses have been caught with their proverbial pants down because of a change in the rules.

Today, I see some businesses relying heavily on Facebook ads in particular to drive traffic to fill their funnels, and that’s fine — until it isn’t. Even in my relatively short experience in online business, I have watched businesses FAIL because they have built their marketing plans based solely on someone else’s platform. It happened with banner ads and pop-up ads, as the BoingBoing article explains; it happened with Facebook when the algorithm changed and businesses saw double digit drops in their organic reach practically overnight. And it’s happening again with Facebook ads — first because prices have gone up dramatically since the medium first became popular, and maybe in the future due to ad blockers.

In the beginning of Facebook, before the platform started letting anyone buy ads, many businesses built their entire marketing funnel on Facebook. They were making a mint!

Then as the company started rolling out ads, it also tweaked the algorithm to disadvantage business accounts. Suddenly, some of those businesses saw HUGE drop-offs in traffic and revenue overnight — and with no plan B.


The point of this rant is not to be the doomsday naysayer of marketing, but rather to remind you not to build your house on someone else’s land. Many years ago, Brian Clark coined the term “digital share cropping,” and it’s still a cautionary tale. It refers to the practice of building an entire business presence on someone else’s platform.  And that’s just not smart, because as we have all learned, The Internet giveth, and The Internet taketh away.

It’s never a good strategy to get all your leads or sales from a single source, because if and when that source dries up, you’re left twisting in the wind.

The tl;dr is this: If your marketing funnel depends on a platform OTHER THAN YOUR OWN (ie: your website, your blog, your email list that you can take with you to another service), you could be setting yourself up for a fall when and if that platform changes the rules — or has the rules changed for them.

Blogging is still king

While we regularly hear about the death of the blog, creating your own content platform — in this case a blog (or videos, or a podcast) hosted on your own website is the way to insulate yourself from the whims of the Internet world.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t be using any promotion channels you choose to drive traffic to your blog. You absolutely should be promoting your content on any other channels that make sense for your business audience.

Rather, it’s a reminder that if you put too many of your marketing eggs in one basket, you’ll be in deep chicken poo when the bottom of the basket falls out.

Don’t be afraid to use Facebook ads or Google ads or even display ads to drive traffic to your content hub if that’s working for your business. But give a thought to diversifying that traffic as much as is possible, as much as makes sense.

So that you’re not caught by surprise when the Internet inevitably changes.

We specialize in helping businesses come up with savvy marketing plans that build your content hub where you can control it. Click here to learn more and sign up for a chat.

3 thoughts on “Would Your Marketing Survive Without Online Ads?

  1. It’s funny, because I’ve seen this exact problem among authors. Everyone rushed to do Facebook ads, then Amazon ads, and now Bookbub ads, to sell books, because it seemed the only way to get over the ’email marketing apathy’ that a lot of authors faced. But now you’re looking at paying 60c and more for a single click…but if you’re only going to get 34c royalties for that book, IF the person buys it, then is it worth it? I’ve gone back to non-paid forms of promotion (blogs, social media, podcasts etc) because I think in some ways they’re still better at building that relationship with potential customers that you just don’t get with paid ads.

    1. This is SUCH a good point, Icy, and one I didn’t address here. You have to know how much you can afford to pay for a lead in order to know if advertising is a good idea. If they only make 34c royalties from a book, they should be paying less than that for a CONVERSION, not even for a click — otherwise they’re losing money! Tough conversation to have. But organic marketing can still be the answer, I think!

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