Saved from the Advertising Graveyard

While online advertising is more prevalent and widespread than ever, consumers’ opinions of digital ads are at an all-time low. Audiences will go to great lengths to avoid ads in the digital space, including using ad blockers and paying premium subscription rates. Consumers hope for the death of online advertising and, in their efforts to avoid ads, severely limit the marketer’s ability to advertise effectively. In response to ad blockers and privacy legislature, both of which impair advertisers’ abilities to target their audience, we as marketers need to adapt. Rather than abandoning online ads, let’s focus on generating great ads and killing bad advertising. Specifically, there are a few types of digital advertising tactics to avoid if we want to begin rebuilding consumer trust and avoid the collapse of the online advertising industry as a whole.

Intrusive ads

Due to native ad blockers and simple consumer dislike, intrusive digital ads are on their way out. This includes everything from pop-up banners, online ads that take over your device’s entire screen and even ads that interrupt what you’re reading or watching, forcing you to pay attention to the ad instead. Not only do intrusive ads cause more and more consumers to use ad blockers, they also create distrust for advertisers. Instead of intrusive ads, focus your online dollars on promotions that consumers actually want: ones that are targeted, relevant and don’t distract from the content the audience wants to consume. Don’t forget to offer ways for the audience to explore additional information.

Sending emails too frequently or that are not targeted properly

Want to know the fastest way to lose subscribers? Send three emails a day that are completely irrelevant to the audience. If the recipient doesn’t immediately unsubscribe, expect that email to sit forever unopened in a folder that will never be opened either. We as advertisers need to take some time to get to know our online audiences and help deliver exactly what they want, when they want it and how often they want it. By staying targeted and relevant, you’ll keep your messages in front of consumers. Take some advice from Kevin Krekeler, MCC’s director of client engagement.

Excruciatingly long video ads

Think you’ve got a great idea for an online video ad? Make sure the first few seconds cover everything you want the consumer to know. If not, the viewer will likely be too frustrated with your brand to pay attention. And if given the option to skip, 90 percent of consumers will skip. Keep it short and keep it relevant.

Sneakily selling consumers’ data to third parties

Few things will anger your target audience more than putting them on some email list or phone list for them to be constantly harassed. There are situations in which a consumer might be genuinely interested in receiving offers from third parties, but just make sure the information is clearly outlined and that users know what they are getting into.

Tricking your target audience into compliance

Consumers are smart, and, even though they have been trained to avoid or ignore online ads, sometimes they still fall prey to a new tricky digital ad format. Sometimes this comes in the form of putting the close button on a welcome ad in the top left corner (as opposed to the right corner, where it usually is) or making the close button light gray text on a white background. This can also be seen on Bumble, the dating app where you swipe right if you like someone and left if you dislike someone. By putting ads in between profiles, it’s a common mistake to accidentally swipe right on an ad, effectively tricking users into accidentally clicking. Annoying your customer and tricking them into clicking the ad accidentally isn’t doing anything for your brand, except artificially inflating your click-through rate and causing your bounce rate to skyrocket.

Instead of only thinking about digital advertising as a numbers game with no downsides, focus on creating and placing ads that resonate with your audience and provide minimal disruption to their online experience. Working with an agency that understands this is a strong first step to save your ads from the virtual graveyard.

Laurin is a part of the digital campaigns team at MCC and helps implement, analyze and optimize digital media programs for clients. Prior to MCC, Laurin graduated from Baylor with a bachelor of business administration in marketing. Although born in Houston, Laurin moved to Dallas as fast as she could. She enjoys being outside, watching Baylor sports and attending live music shows.

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