Fairy Tale: “Ads We Want to See”

One of the biggest fantasies shared by digital marketers and advertising technology providers is that people want to see ads. The problem isn’t them, it’s us. If only we installed more technology (and chipped away at privacy a little more), we’d improve our omni-channel results, they say.

This belief has been used to pile technology, algorithms, and nonsense on our marketing efforts. The first result is a supply chain that’s so opaque almost nobody can tell you why a particular advertisement was run. The second result is that adtech companies have made a lot of money by skimming your media dollars.

It’s a narcissistic delusion to believe that anybody cares about what we have to sell. There’s no magical technology solution that will make consumers* suddenly want to “engage” with our advertisements or our brands.

In the offline world, we always knew that our ads weren’t wanted. But they were tolerated, because they are part of the deal. We spent a lot of time making sure we got the targeting just right, put forth a compelling offer and did strong creative to catch the eye.

In the digital world, the focus is mostly on more algorithms and outright surveillance. How’s that working for you? How’s your signal to noise ratio look? Are you running ads on jihadi websites? Are you even showing ads to human beings? Are you sure?

Think the problem with digital advertising will be solved with more technology?

Takeaway: Segment your audience, select the target audiences, understand your allowable, craft compelling messages with stunning creative ideas, then decide which channels to use, and show your ads to people–not “identities.” Underpin all this with a core truth: Nobody cares about your product, your brand, or your ads.
And win.



*When I see the word “consumer,” my BS detector goes off. Mold, fungi, and insects are consumers. People buy our products and services.

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