Why am I even writing about digital advertising making us mad?
How many times have you protested about ads? I bet it was almost every time you’ve seen one. Especially when they delayed getting to the content, you’re searching for. Don’t get me wrong; I know I have. I guess it’s in our nature. But one thing we’re all forgetting, when it comes to digital advertising, and seeing the results of it, is we’re getting something for free. We should know better, though.
First of all, let’s start with some numbers I’ve found (you can skip them if you hate them), you will still get the point of this article:
- 91% of people say ads are more intrusive today than 2-3 years ago
- 87% say there are more ads in general than 2-3 years ago
- 79% feel like retargeted ads are tracking them
There’s a great chance you’d agree with at least one of the previous three statements. So, why are we mad at digital advertising? Why are we angry at ads? Well, the truth is, we’re bothered by bad ones. By intrusive ones. So if you’re a:
- Digital advertiser: Make sure your ads are fun, engaging, and adequately targeted. Enhance them with beautiful visuals.
- Consumer/User: Before getting mad at an ad, ask yourself, how much have I paid to use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Google, etc., …?
Digital advertising is an infernal creation; ads are the devil
Believe it or not, real people are standing behind those ads. Real people like you and me. Sometimes precisely me. 😛
But, what we shouldn’t forget is that our watching of the ads is a form of payment. With it, we’re getting access to the previously listed things we, quite frankly, could do hard without. Just to clarify, I’m not judging you if you’re mad at a property insurance ad, and you’re a 15-year-old student without any income or property. That’s just poor targeting, and it happens.
Advertisers should work on Ad recall lift. A digital advertising metric which shows how many people will remember your ad if asked within two days of seeing it. Now, how to get that number high is up to professionals. But if you want to learn it yourself, you always can. It’s a long way, but it’s possible.
“Am I being followed?” and other burning questions about advertising
One thing you should be completely aware of is, digital advertising has many tricks and schemes. Sometimes, its targeting can be a bit prejudicial. But it’s far from organized crime.
Digital advertising is just a (based on who manages it) powerful tool to sell products and services. And we love those. At least some. And whether we like it or not, they’re all around us. It makes the world go round.
But am I being followed? Answer already!
The short answer is: no. The somewhat longer answer is you, personally, are not being followed. Digital advertising is based on sorting people into groups. That might sound bad, but that’s what it is. All of us belong to a particular group. We all have our age group, our interests, our living location, level of education, etc.
The rough truth is, if you’re using the internet, you’re going to see ads. Isn’t it better to view the ones relevant to you? You might not need a new cat feeder just now, but it might be useful to know your favorite pet shop has them on a discount at that moment.
Okay, how did I see the ad right after talking about it then?
Either you or someone in your surroundings has, at least once, told you they’re being listened to. And they might be right. The more plausible explanation is, we’re seeing hundreds of ads a day, and when we recently talk about something, we’re more prone to noticing it.
That is your mind is playing tricks on you. And it even has a name. Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (or complex) is a concept saying that the thing you just found out about, suddenly pops out everywhere. Because you suddenly start noticing it that much more. Something similar is happening with ads.
Is my phone collecting advertising data about me?
The short answer: Yes! And the long answer: Not just your phone. Every trace we leave online is recorded to an extent. If you google, say, some gaming equipment. You visited the website, maybe even the webshop, saw the price, then left. After some time, that same company pops out with its ad.
In digital advertising, that little trick is called retargeting or remarketing. Sometimes people need a bit more time to decide to buy. Sometimes, retargeting can be useful when we can’t recall when we’ve seen something we liked. So, it’s not all bad.
On the other hand, there are some endeavors in digital advertising which are invading our privacy a great deal. The bright side is that the majority of marketers aren’t using them because they are not entirely legal. The horrible news is that the ones using them are the ones who matter the most, such as politicians. Find out more about that by watching a fantastic documentary on that topic called The Great Hack.
Free is just a concept, not a reality
If you’re not working in IT, I think you could hardly imagine what it takes to build (and maintain) a platform such as, for instance, YouTube. Constant optimization, server maintenance, content regulation, UI/UX improvements, and many other vital processes don’t take just time. They seek knowledge and expertise, as well.
And guess what, digital advertising and ads are one of the significant sources of income for all that. So, next time when you’re getting angry at a commercial, take all this into account.
What does that mean for digital advertising and advertisers?
There are things you can make to make your digital advertising efforts less obnoxious, intrusive, and grueling:
- Place your ads where the users are used to seeing them: People are habitual creatures. If your ad doesn’t feel like it’s ambushing your audience, it will be less of those three things listed above.
- Target with care and precision: There are not many things more annoying than a poorly targeted ad
- Offer something in return: Just as we all don’t get to use the online platforms without seeing ads, so shouldn’t we, as digital marketers expect to get something out of ads if we don’t offer anything in return. This doesn’t mean your every ad should feature a discount, but you can always educate, inform, entertain, or think of your unique way of providing value.
- Small “x” buttons on pop-up ads belong right in the 9th circle of hell: They are not just annoying, they’re plain evil (As if pop-up ads aren’t annoying enough on their own)
- Pay some respect to your audience: Your audience isn’t stupid, so don’t insult their intelligence with dumb, redundant ads. Also, whatever you do, don’t mislead them (i.e., promise something in your ad that’s simply not true) – it might cause irreparable damage to your brand.
Conclusion about digital advertising
The working title of this blog post was: “Don’t be mad at ads – They are making a lot of things you love, free.” Now, besides that being a terrible headline, it’s also more of a conclusion than a headline. After the short discussion in this article, I have concluded that although we shouldn’t be mad at ads, we should expect them to hold a certain standard of quality.
Nevertheless, if we liked them or not, we will keep seeing them. That much is inevitable.