Here’s a provocative thought that came out of Tim Williams’ presentation at T-CAAN. (I swear this is the last post I’m going to do on his presentation. Maybe.)
“All ads within today’s controlled new media marketplace are spam.”
Now that will either induce outright dismissal, panic or apathy, depending on your level of investment in the issue.
Before you leap from a building or rear up on your hind legs to have a go at me, I would suggest we take that statement a step further first:
All ads are spam.
This from a business that makes its revenue doing ads. Am I nuts? I can see the men in white suits coming for me now, so I better keep this brief.
First, consider your own behaviour.
Do you pay attention to Google ads up there in the top right hand corner of the Google results page? Of course you don’t.
Do you go for a pee break during the commercials? Of course you do.
Do your eyes seek out those banner and skyscrapers and leaderboards when you’re online? No?
Do you remember a single advertisement you saw in the newspaper this morning? Not even one? Of the 200 or so?
Ads have become consumer blindspots, precisely because advertisers are talking at their customers. That’s spam to most.
Consumers haven’t always rejected this approach. I think it’s actually been an evolution. Changes in behaviour, volume of messages, burnout, social media, consumer generated content – they have all put the customer in the driver’s seat. Success rates on traditional talking-at messages are spiralling downward.
But this same new reality of consumer-controlled media, where consumers pull the advertising to them, rather than the advertiser interrupting with one-way messages, suggests the way forward for marketers: Less pushing, more engaging.
The neat thing about conversations is that the good ones are always at least two-way. Unless, like me, you actually do talk to yourself.
If spam is the sound of the advertiser shouting at the consumer, it seems the time has come for clients and agencies to shut up and listen before they speak.