If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?
People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?
Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.
Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.
Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan
But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.
The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.
Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.
Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.
People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.
But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.
From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.
Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From
Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.
New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.
And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.
But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:
Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell
If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.
Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.
Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.
For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.
9 Strategies For Memorable Advertising When Your Audience Is Chronically Distracted
Attention spans have never been shorter, and consumers never have had so many options. You need a smart strategy to rise above the noise.
The advertising industry is big. In fact, when all the numbers from 2017 are tallied, advertising spending in the United States is projected to reach $207 billion. However, research shows that 64 percent of people find ads annoying or intrusive. A whopping 92 percent of online ads aren’t even noticed.
If you want to get results from your advertising efforts in 2018, you must adhere to certain rules. These nine definitely are worth remembering as you firm up your strategy for the new year.
1. Optimise your ads for declining attention spans
The consistently shrinking attention span is one of advertising’s greatest challenges. Consider the following statistics:
- In a recent study, Microsoft revealed the average attention span has decreased from about 12 seconds in 2000 to about eight seconds today.
- A study by Jampp shows that our attention spans decline by about 88 percent every year – especially thanks to technology and mobile apps.
- Some sources estimate we are exposed to up to 5,000 ads daily – a sharp increase from a few decades ago.
Audiences suffer from declining attention spans, but they’re bombarded with more ads than ever before. With that in mind, it’s essential to embrace the KISS principle: Keep it simple, stupid.
2. Follow the ‘Rule of Seven’
One of advertising’s golden rules is explained by the “Rule of Seven:” Most prospects will need to see your message at least seven times before they consider your offer. Don’t expect most people to convert the first time they see your offer. Instead, use different means and channels to get the same message across to them. You’ll increase the odds they’ll respond to your offer.
3. Retarget your ads to people familiar with your brand
According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospect is about 5 to 20 percent while the probability of selling to an existing customer is about 60 to 70 percent. It’s much easier to market to people who already are familiar with your brand or who have been customers in the past than it is to “sell” people who are just learning about you. Research shows that retargeting your message to people who previously have visited your website can result in 10 times the clicks and a 70 percent increase in conversions.
4. Sensory adaptation beats CTA colour
In one of its articles years ago, Hubspot famously proclaimed that “Red beats green” in terms of coloured-button performance. For a long time, experts have touted red as the best choice for a call to action (CTA). Unbounce, on the other hand, says orange leads to more conversions. Others have found green, yellow or blue to be best.
So which colour, really, produces the best results? None of the above. Colour psychology has taken a back seat to an even more powerful underlying principle: sensory adaptation. In basic terms, our brains ignore anything that blends in with its surroundings. A green button will convert better on a page using a red colour scheme and vice versa. You should ensure your CTAs stand out. Do this, and every colour will convert well for you.
5. Segment and target
Marketing Sherpa structured a study that compared the return on investment of targeted emails (sent to users based on their interests) with “batch-and-blast” emails (sent to everyone on the list). Segmented emails resulted in a 208 percent higher conversion rate than emails that weren’t targeted. Increasingly, advertising research emphasises the importance of segmenting and targeting. More recently, marketing professionals are using artificial intelligence to develop sophisticated options for targeting users.
6. Focus on retention
A recent study from Adobe Digital Insights found that ads are getting more expensive while reaching fewer consumers. Experts expect this trend to continue as users find more ways to block ads. Meanwhile, advertising platforms will struggle to increase revenue. To get the most from your advertising efforts, consider ways to retain users. It’s more economical than paying to reach them each time. Start building a user list you can segment into groups: an email list, a push-notification list and others.
7. Don’t ignore mobile
Overlooking mobile users is perhaps the deadliest mistake any advertiser can make at this point in time. Mobile-only internet users outnumber desktop-only users. What’s more, research shows that engagement is higher on mobile devices than on desktop devices. If you don’t have a mobile-advertising strategy, you’re alienating more than half your potential customers.
8. Embrace the ‘less is more’ principle
It’s easy to assume that presenting people with more options will yield a better ROI, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, psychologist Barry Schwartz argued against this in his book “The Paradox of Choice.” He cited a jam study conducted by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper. The pair of researchers divided shoppers into two groups. They presented the first group of shoppers with a table that contained six varieties of jam. The second group of shoppers were offered a table containing 24 varieties of jam. More people viewed the table with greater options, but 10 times as many people actually purchased from the table with fewer varieties of jam. You can do the same: Provide fewer options, and you’ll see conversions increase.
9. Use text strategically
An image is worth a thousand words – until it isn’t. A lot has been said about the power of images to drive action and boost advertising conversion. But an increasing body of research is finding that when used properly, text is even more effective than rampant visuals. Launchbit found that text-heavy banner ads generally result in more clicks and conversions than banners that consist primarily of graphics and colours. There’s an important caveat, though: Ensure your text communicates exactly what users will gain when they click your ad.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.