When times were good and the economy was strong, you could sell companies any old kind of patently ridiculous ad. Did marketing savants really believe that spending wildly to place their brands inside "The Sims" was going to pay off in money that is made out of paper, and spendable here on Earth? It's doubtful. They just got caught up in the sheer newness of plastering their logo anywhere and everywhere, and then made up some bullshit about "branding" to explain the expense. Well that shit is over now, suckas! The first thing to get cut in everyone's ad budget was "experimental" ad buys, random things like branded pop-up games and ads in Virtual Worlds and other, mostly online things that probably never worked in the first place. Also getting chopped: mobile ads that go straight to your cellphone—which not only don't work, but actually annoy the consumer in the process of not working.

Areas like mobile, virtual worlds and widgets are expected to be hit particularly hard, as it remains unclear what kind of impact ads in these media have. These campaigns often reach a small number of people, and standard measurement systems have yet to be developed. "When we get into the need to drive results, you can't spend money on the experiments and hope to keep your job and get your sales goals"... "Virtual worlds are probably one of the things that haven't been proven effective just yet. I can't see us selling virtual worlds to anybody right now," says Lars Bastholm, an executive creative director at independent digital marketing shop AKQA.

Good news for nerds of the purist variety! [WSJ; pic via FPSrantings]