Should Marketing Look Like Marketing?

People don’t like being marketed to. The younger they are, the more likely they are to say that.

In today’s world, we are all bombarded by advertising 24/7. No matter where we go or what we do, there are ads battling for our attention. Younger consumers have grown up in this type of environment, and we’re all conditioned to ignore ads when we see them. It’s the only way to maintain sanity.

So, the marketing world is on a mission to develop ads that don’t feel like ads.

Let’s take a step back and see if this makes sense.

First, consider a piece of marketing. It has a look and feel. It has some text and some imagery. It has a purpose. Its goal is to get you to do something – call, visit, buy, donate, etc.

Should it blend in or stand out? Conventional wisdom says, make it stand out. Otherwise it won’t get noticed. But if you’re making ads that don’t feel like ads, you’re more likely to say, make it blend in. If it blends in with the world around it, it won’t feel like an ad.

In my opinion this makes little sense. You can’t make marketing more effective by hiding it and tricking people into looking at it.

You make marketing more effective by making it more relevant. Today, that means better timing and better targeting.

Consumers are okay with ads when they are relevant. And ads become relevant when they are shown to the right person at the right time. So my advice to advertisers is to stop wasting brain power trying to design your way out of a problem, and start using that energy to develop relevance.

If you show your ad to the right person at the right time, what it looks like has very little to do with how effective it will be.