Stop advertsing. Nobody pays attention to it anymore

Data are the new oil and businesses really get it. On the other hand I’m surprised to see that the first thing that comes to their mind in terms of business cases is advertising. I agree that the more you know the customer the easier it is to push relevant ads the more chances he clicks (if you’re a media) or buys (if your the advertiser). But it leaves me doubtful fur many reasons. The first is that there are business cases with a higher adds value. The second is that optimizing something people don’t see and even don’t want to see is throwing money by the window.

Adverstising lost the attention war

The times when brands benefitted from a captive, lashed, gagged audience they were able to impose their message to are over. No matter the way it’s done, the concept of advertising lasts – as Manuel Diaz explained it last year -  from an era when the number of media was limited, the audience captive and the ability to escape inexisting.

What are people stuck in trafic jams doing today instead of looking at the billboard positioned at the right place on the highway to benefit from their “available brain time” ? They send sms or read their Facebook feed.

What did televiewers use to do during advertising breaks ? Go to the toilets, get a drink or switch to another channel. Today we can add the unlimited possibilities offered by mobile. And they secretly dream of an ad blocker that would fix the issue once for all.

Ad blocking is a growing market

If we’re not still able to block TV ads, we can already do this on the web. More that 25% of internauts use ad blockers. According to a recent Adobe study it will cost more than 20 billion euros to advertisers in 2015. With Apple near to offer native ad blocking in Safari and iOS thing may get even worse in a near future.

Advertising dies from its bad practices

Internet created a kind of unlimited advertising space which potential is much higher than the physical world’s where the audience is poorly qualified, content static and the available space limited. By exploiting a potential to its maximum it’s easy to destroy it and that’s exactly what’s happening with advertising today.

Pages overloaded with ads, interstitial ads that kill the browsing experience, being forced to watch an endless ad before viewing a video that’s sometimes shorter than the ad…the point of no return has been reached. Internauts have become adphobic.

When advertising is not an experience it ends in the trash

Are advertisers in a dead end ? Of course not. But they need to become more creative, ambitious and forget their “grand dad ads”. Using data and customer understanding to simply push an ad in front of their eyes is taking them for stupid. More, by trying to differentiate themselves at any price, many brands miss the point, excel at bad taste and finally harm their image.

On the other hand, using customer data to immerge them in a personalized univers where they’ll find answers to their questions, solutions to their problem can lead to interesting things. Ads are then seen as a service, the brand becomes top of mind, a reference, a reflex. Exactly what Nivea does in France for example.

The concept can apply in many forms. When will a player in the travel industry try to become the reference of “travel as a lifestyle” instead of harassing me with ads for flights or hotels ? In one case he would inform me, in the other he bothers me.

Don’t waste your data with ads. Be helpful.

There are so many things to do with your precious customer data that are better than ad harassment that acts as a foil.

Of course, as many people already told me, the investment is not the same. In the one case a brand only invests in technology, in the other there must be a content, informative and servicing strategy. In the one case it’s hard selling, in the other it’s about building a lasting affinity relationship. That’s neither the same cost nor the same ROI. If the return will sur be higher it will take more time to happen. But asking the question in this way already shows that one is in technology-driven approach that proves the lack of understanding of the matter and of the way digital changes how business is done.

The question should be raised in another way. Do you want your brand to leave people indifferent until its death ? A death no one wille care about ? Do you think your status will protect you from such a painful issue ? Customers won’t care if 93% of brands disappeared. Statistically you may be one of theses brands so you’d better consider the problem seriously.


Image Credit : Allen.G /

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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