Out with Advertising as we know it

With the rise of digital technologies, ad-exposure is at an all time high. This has also created an increasing pool of avoidance options for consumers. As media becomes increasingly digital, consumer control is also rising, and tools that enable ad-avoidance are becoming more and more accessible as they require little consumer effort.

The truth is, consumers aren’t interested in advertising. The rise in popularity of internet ad-blockers is proof of this, we actively filter out ads to allow us to focus on the content we actually want to see. It’s all done with the same purpose; avoiding as many ads as possible, and only engaging with what really peaks our interest.

The 2017 report The End Of Advertising As We Know It, conducted by Market research Company, Forrester, showed that 38% of U.S. adults who use the internet have installed an ad blocker, and 50% claim to actively avoid ads on websites. Whilst often a hot topic, Global Chief Strategy Officer at media agency Carat, Sanjay Nazerali, discussed ad-blocking as a positive driver of change. “I have to say I am really excited by ad blocking, which is incredibly controversial in our industry…If it is forcing brands to speak with greater meaning, with greater relevance and greater value ultimately to consumers, bring it on.”

YouTube have recognised the need to acknowledge this behaviour, so are pulling the 30-second non-skippable ad format next year in order to provide a better ad experience for users online. Meredith Jurek, chief marketing officer at Self Esteem Brands, agreed that a shift was imminent, stating that “We have a ton of Millennials and they are not going on TV, so it’s about how do you find them in ways that’s not so interruptive and annoying, but entertaining, and to insert your brand into that conversation, or do you go a step further and provoke a conversation?”

And they’re not alone. In April, Proctor and Gamble – one of the world’s largest advertisers – had something to say about the overwhelming amount of advertising bombarding consumers. “[We] subject them to endless load times, interrupt them with pop-ups and overpopulate their screens and feeds”, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard told the American Association of Advertising Agencies. He called for advertisers and agencies to work together to produce better content, announcing that P&G are shifting their focus to fewer and better ideas that last longer.

So with that in mind, advertisers and brands need to build a connection with their audience, finding non-interruptive alternatives that engage, inspire and entertain viewers, whilst authentically linking back to their brand and message. The key? Excellent creative. An effective ad is one that is designed to emotionally connect with its viewers, engaging and entertaining audiences so that they want to continue watching. Essentially, audiences won’t like, comment or share content if it’s boring, and a great ad is all about eliciting emotion. An example of creative advertising done right can be seen in the John Lewis Christmas adverts. Each year the British department store create a compelling Christmas video, telling engaging stories about thoughtful present giving that emotionally connect with viewers, as opposed to blatant retail messages and excessive mentions to their store and products. The company have estimated that since 2012, sales have increased over 35% due to the success of the adverts. The victory in this is that audiences want to actually watch these adverts.

By creating ads that people want to watch and responding to consumers’ preferences, marketers can use consumer control to their advantage to create engaging content that leaves a lasting impression.