Advertising: How Invasive Are You?

Any bit of marketing or advertising that you do is an attempt to gain attention from consumers. Show me something that people are doing, and I’ll show you the marketers that are attempting to push a message to them. The trick is, can you get the message in front of the consumer in a way that A) does not feel like an ad, B) feels like an ad but is so relevant that it doesn’t matter, or C) is so non-invasive that if it’s not relevant it does not piss people off?

Assuming you can’t do A and B, let’s take a closer look at C. Being invasive means getting in the way. Having to sit through a 30 second promo to watch a video on YouTube is invasive. Commercials on TV are invasive. Pop-ups are invasive. People don’t like them. They may work, but they also piss people off if they’re not done well.

A study recently published says that 58% of consumers think that brand messages on social networks are invasive. 64% of people surveyed said they “hate” messages from companies on social networks. That’s higher than a lot of people in the marketing world would expect. But remember, social networks are still relatively new, and pure.

Last week I taught a class on email marketing and there was a great question from one of the students on the effectiveness of email vs. brand messaging on social networks. We came to the conclusion that while both are forms of advertising, and there are companies that do one better than the other, in general people are on social networks to interact with each other and not companies. Meanwhile, 94% of email users actively subscribe to at least one companies’ email list.

So ads and messaging on social networks are seen as more invasive than email, overall.

One final warning: most marketers don’t think what they’re doing is invasive. Consumers might think otherwise. Find out before you abuse your right to message people.

“Is This Ad Relevant to You?”

In advertising, the goal is to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. If you could do this every time, you’d have a very successful ad campaign. That’s what we’re all working for.

In online advertising, it gets a lot easier to target the right audience for your ad. Today’s technology allows us to analyze who goes where, what they’re looking for, and when they’re most likely to click on an ad. We can measure the effectiveness of certain ads in certain places. We’re getting closer to the promise land.

And with the introduction of social media, we know more about the people who are looking at our ads than ever before. Facebook and other companies have made it commonplace to put the power of ads into the hands of the consumer. Getting feedback on ads in real time is now a possibility. And so enters the ad that caught my eye on Hulu yesterday.

At the top of the ad, overlaying the video that was playing, was a simple question:

“Is this ad relevant to you?”

After the question I could click on either Yes, or No. Hulu, or the advertising platform that they use, is collecting this data. They can match this against my personal history and preferences, and also against the answer of everyone else who watched the same video. By doing this they’re better able to target ads and serve advertisers in the future.

In a real-time/measurement/consumer feedback driven world, this kind of data becomes extremely powerful.

Crossing the Line with Ads

The way that different companies and websites use ads on their sites has changed a lot in the past 10 years. As online advertising becomes a large source of income for many organizations, we experiment with all of the technologies available to us in order to maximize ad revenue.

Some ads fit seamlessly on the page, and blend in to the point that a visitor misses them completely. Others stand out like a sore thumb and change the visitor experience completely. One version of online advertising that has all but gone the way of the dodo is what we know lovingly as the Popup.

Here is a great example of what not to do with ads:

Yes, I was visiting a lyrics website. And yes, I should probably expect to be annoyed when visiting a lyrics website. Call me on optimist for hoping that even the sleaziest of web properties follows some form of visitor decency.

Not only was the ad blocking the entire site, the close button in the top right didn’t work, the mute button to silence the ad didn’t work, and even after the ad was finished playing the popup remained, basically making viewing the page that I was trying to view impossible.

Let’s all learn from this, and hopefully, some day, move past it.

Callaway Golf: Making Ads Social

The world has changed, we all know that.  The internet was the first culprit, putting more power into the consumer's hands than ever before.  But social media is today's culprit.

Social, a word that's driving marketers around the world crazy.  Some have embraced the idea and continue to expirement ways to leverage it.  Some have run from the idea, and are finding their options ever more limited.

Callaway Golf, and their ad agency, Eleven, have put together a very interesting campaign that aims to leverage the social universe to create better ads.  If you took a look at yesterday, you might have noticed that Callaway was the primary advertiser (more likely you overlooked the ads completely as most people do).  But what you probably did not notice, is that the ads were mostly a call for more ads.

By that I mean that if you expanded the ad, you were shown one of 4 quotes, with a part of the quote intentionally left blank.  Callaway was asking users (consumers) to finish the phrase, and submit their personalized ads via Facebook.

Not only is this a way to create better ads, but the real reason to do something like this is that it's not the ads that matter anymore.  By making the ads user generated, you are creating something to talk about and share.  I'm more likely to share an ad that I created than a cool ad that I happened upon online.

The ads work because they're social. Congrats to Callaway on trying something new!