Online Advertisers Beware: No Means No!

Sometimes advertisers need to be reminded about how empowered consumers really are.

When telemarketers crossed the line with too many intrusive calls during dinner time, consumers fought back through the National Do Not Call Registry. When DVRs entered the market, consumers were able to blow through commercials in a matter of seconds, and Pandora enables its listeners to enjoy ad free radio for a modest fee. And, of course, people who receive repetitive, unwanted, irrelevant, and unsolicited emails can easily block the senders, or mark such irritating emails as spam.

What we are faced with today are ad-blockers used by consumers who are fed up with online ads that:

  • Are intrusive
  • Distract from their online experience
  • Block them from reading desired content
  • Are irrelevant
  • Talk down to them
  • Are poorly created or developed
  • Offer/provide little or no value

In the olden days (you know, before 2002), the secret to a successful direct marketing campaign was based on three elements: 1) the quality of the mailing list (the recipients), 2) the creative approach, and 3) the offer. If an advertiser didn’t have their act together in any of these areas, a much greater portion of their direct mail pieces would suffer a nonstop flight from consumers’ mailboxes to the trash. (Question: Can you guess how many billions of dollars advertisers have wasted by employing “spray and pray” direct marketing practices?)

Today, these same three rules also determine the success or failure of online advertising. And unfortunately, some advertisers are either lazy or failing, causing people to fire up ad-blockers, blocking even high-quality ads from all advertisers.

The good news is, consumers don’t hate online advertising. What they do hate are ads that intrude, interrupt, annoy and insult their intelligence. And, some are also worried about where their data is going and what will be done with it. Based on how people interact on social media, it’s rather obvious that a fair share don’t mind giving up a little personal information or privacy in exchange for an enhanced online experience. But everyone has their limits.

Relevant Data

According to HubSpot, 73 percent of people dislike online pop ups, 70 percent dislike ads on their mobile devices, and 57 percent dislike the fact that they are forced to watch ads before they can watch a desired video. Granted, many can be skipped after five seconds, but some of the most popular videos won’t load until the viewer sits through a full thirty-second spot for a product that is unlikely to interest them. 57 percent are okay with banner ads, and 82 percent are okay with magazine and print ads. 64 percent are okay with TV ads, but that is primarily because we can fast-forward through them.

It’s time for advertisers to think more strategically about what they are serving consumers, both online and off. If we wish to reverse the trend of ad-blocking, we’ll need to give frustrated consumers a reason why. It must start with placing a priority-level focus on improving the entire user experience through offering better creative and higher-quality content that is not intrusive, annoying or obnoxious.

As an advertiser, you want people to actually click on your ads to start the sales process – not be yet another reason for them to install an ad-blocker.

Scott Seroka is one of 29 Certified Brand Strategists in the U.S., and is a Principal of Seroka Brand Development and Strategic Communications.