Recently I logged in to Twitter and received a promoted tweet from Amazon. The tweet said "50% off today's Deal of the Day!" I clicked. Waiting for me was a product page of great deals on a clothing brand I had previously searched. There was a 50% off deal on a t-shirt. Because I have a relationship with Amazon Prime a click or two purchased that item and shipped it to my house. I clicked back in to Twitter to resume what I was doing. The whole thing took under 45 seconds.
Advertising can be irritating. Sometimes we're shouted at. Other times we're treated like a child. Often, we don't understand what the point of something is.
But if you really think about it, the most common reason people don't like an ad has little to do with creativity or the message itself; it's because it's irrelevant to them.
Consider the things largely funded by advertising: the entertainment industry, the news industry, sports broadcasting, Google. Remove advertising and many of the things we like suddenly disappear. And yet advertising comes with a small price: for the last 100 years all ad buys had to contain a certain amount of waste. Are pharma ads extremely annoying to you? That's probably because you're not interested in Cialis. But you're watching football with a lot of other people.
Take a scan across the industry and the improvements in creativity, design and marketing over the last five years are notable. While the negative souls will always say that "it's not what it used to be" the truth of the matter is that it's better. Some historic campaigns may never be topped. But many of the most viral things on the web today are great advertising ideas.
The most acute challenge the industry faces today, the area that needs the most help, the most guidance and the most focus is the part that we talk about the least: media. And fixing it can have the greatest affect on people by helping them find what they want. If advertising must exist, let's at least try harder to have it be valuable and helpful to people.
In the past media teams spent their time strategizing whether to run an ad in GQ or Esquire. Last year, 22 percent of all US ad spending was digital. This is up 19 percent from the previous year. Such volume has given rise to DSPs, or demand-side platforms, which allow advertisers to buy online campaigns more efficiently, adjust in real time according to effectiveness data, and actually use strategy to inform placement.
Today we're witnessing the staying power of TV. At the same time, we're also witnessing TV and online video merging together, which will be valuable. With TV we know reach and frequency, but not engagement, whereas with online we have data around engagement, but how well are we doing at documenting viewability?
Work is now being done to tie online display advertising standards to online video, which is currently that to register as "viewable" 50 percent of the ad has to be in-view of the user for one second. Why one second? Research shows that when we're on a web page we're going to make a decision about what to do with an ad – ignore, click, leave the page – in less than a second.
But by 2020 these things are predicted to merge.
Digital has also been shown to drive more reach. The IAB has Nielsen research which says that moving 15 percent of a TV budget to digital can increase reach by up to six percent while decreasing the overall CPM.
I don't believe the studies that say people prefer big web ads. I do believe that if a web ad contains something interesting and relevant to people that they don't mind it as much.
Consumers have some control here. With ad settings, we can tell Google what's interesting to us. Or, more importantly, what isn't. Not into fishing, fiber & textile arts, or foreign language study (to name a few "f" choices)? Then remove them. It's reasonable to assume that more people will do this considering it's only one click in from many ads served up today.
The tools are finally arriving where advertising can be better for people. We can tailor per person: eliminate what is irrelevant and offer what is helpful. Doing this saves money for clients. It also provides insightful data into customer behavior, which can inform marketing and brand decisions, both online and offline.
The next frontier is honing better media.