How to Succeed at Online Advertising

You have to give the candy with the medicine – Brendan Gahan*

This philosophy is used by Mekanism (1) for their online advertisements. I believe this is going to become the new standard for big name advertisers trying to be relevant. The content they produce has to be so good that it doesn’t matter that it promotes something. Advertising gurus have been saying that who can possibly handle so many advertisements, and that was before the internet. The amount of noise is increasing at such a rapid pace (2), and the only way to get your brand out there is to cut through this. One of the most effective ways to do this is to give the audience viral, awesome, cool, shareable etc. content that they will watch and interact with. It is definitely harder than making a banner ad.  

*Brendan spoke on a course I bought, I highly recommend you check it out here.

You can follow him on twitter here:

 1) Mekanism:

2) The closing of google reading didn’t help much either see this article here

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A New Era of Marketing

One of the early beliefs of the internet was that the best stuff would rise to the top. The truth is its more crowded than ever, and you need excellent marketing to rise to the top. This means if you want to get your product/service/content to a large audience you might have to engage in actions you disagree with (1). Its unfortunate, but thats the way the internet works (2). However, the internet does allow you to get yourself out there in a way that never would have been possible before (3). People thought the internet would eliminate the need for marketing, it turns out it is the difference between obscurity and success.


1. This is not always the case, but viral content spreads. There are strategies to make it happen: 

2. The unintended dangerous side effects can be seen in:

3. It’s cheaper

I’m pretty sure these aren’t affiliate links. 

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How many people think this is a post by a person not associated with Tesla?

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“People often behave for the sake of reasons” – Cialdini

Cialdini identified the principles of influence as Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, Scarcity. These were written about extensively in his book and many places online.

However, he also discusses the mental short cuts that people use and how these are taken advantage of by “compliance professionals” (1). These mental shortcuts have been used to take advantage of people as they assume they have meaning. Such as a writer claiming to have been featured in Forbes and using that logo when the reality is they wrote a blog post for This is something anyone can do. The world is becoming increasingly faster and meaningless (2) and with this rise one needs to become more aware of these automatic reactions and slow down. The news cycle is 24/7 but your brain can only handle so much content, and once its overloaded it will resort to mental shortcuts. You cannot control that so make sure you really trust when you use the short cuts and try to be a more skeptical and slower to jump to conclusions.


2) A post that illustrates this principle with laurels on movie posters can be seen on Ryan Holiday’s website

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On Positioning

“words are triggers to meanings buried in the mind” – Trout and Ries

Positioning is occupying a place in the mind and has been brilliantly written about by Jack Trout and Al Ries (1). An example that illustrates the incredible power effective positioning has is George Bush.

George Bush’s position was the candidate for the Evangelical Christian voters. This meant that he occupied that place in their mind that he was the perfect candidate for them. Even if his actual policies and actions in office did not actually benefit them, they would considered him their candidate. Meaning they would experience cognitive dissonance and have trouble believing what was going on if this was the reality.

Positioning occurs in all facets of society, its power can be used to enhance life or for more nefarious purposes. Robert Greene (2) says that one must judge people by their actions and not their words, but this rule can apply to products and experiences as well. Especially in this age of media manipulation it is vital to remember that marketers (3) are aware of positioning and will use your own mind against you.

1. Trout and Ries wrote Positioning which is a great must read book:

2. Robert Greene is the author of the 48 Laws of Power, the Art of Seduction, the 33 Strategies of War, the 50th Law and Mastery, his works are life changing and are must reads.

3. Marketers aren’t as evil as everyone seem to think, but that doesn’t mean they should get a free pass either. Just remember that their job is to get you to buy things, experiences, ideas etc. And that even though they are trying to get you to buy something that’s not always bad. As Ries and Trout say, “No matter how good you are, you still have to cut through the noise”

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You Click. They Get Richer?*

Bloggers are playing a game where they need to get you to click to get paid. Welcome to the world of 24/7 page view journalism. They need your click and to do that they will do anything. One of their main tools is to use viral emotions, so the more you spread it the more money they get. If you want to support them great, but if you are tired of the content (or lack thereof) a website, or what seems to be the entire internet is posting stop clicking, sharing and commenting.

Remember this isn’t always bad, sometimes its just funny such as this video of a chimp shooting an AK-47. In this era you have to cut through the massive amount of content out there, and getting people to click is necessary for generating awareness of your product/service/etc. This is just one of many rules of the internet.

This video is an excellent example of a feel good awesome project that went viral:

For more on this topic see Ryan Holiday’s Book:

*Did you click on this because of the question mark? Welcome to another trick they use.

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How To Get Rich by Giving Your Stuff Away

Partnering with BitTorrent is a great move if you are a creator of great things. Tim Ferriss is an example of this. He gave away extra (awesome) content for the release for his latest book the Four Hour Chef and that material got 300,000 downloads and lead to 85,000 people visiting his Amazon page.

I cannot recollect nor do I feel like searching the internet for the exact quote, but he said something to the extent of, “it was so easy and cheap to do, I would be an idiot not to.”

Another great example is independent musician Alex Day who beat out Justin Timberlake in the charts due to his partnership with BitTorrent. I think these progressive examples are just the tip of the iceberg for unconventional ways to cut through the noise. When you use BitTorrent you are gaining access to a huge fan base of people who enjoy music, books and movies, why not use it? And more importantly consider, what the alternative is? Most likely it is to just be another unknown.

BitTorrent is also effective for repositioning older bands (and maybe one day brands) that have gone out of touch. See more about this and BitTorrent here:

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