Audiences no longer need to be passive, and they have no reservations about proving it, writes Rob Blake, general manager, EMEA, at PocketMath.
One of the most damaging legacies handed down by the Madison Avenue ad men over half a century is the idea that one message can sit across a broad audience and still speak to the individual. In the digital world, with all its variety and nuance, that simply won’t cut it, and now the meteoric rise of ad blocking is finally banishing the practice once and for all, whether marketers have a Plan B or not.
Whatever response to ad blocking a company takes, one thing that seems clear is that it is a symptom of changing user attitudes, not their cause. Mobile users, frustrated with poorly targeted creative and adverts that retarget so aggressively that they become spam, have turned to this solution in droves. Demand for ad blocking is so high that browsers, phone manufacturers and even mobile operators have begun to offer and implement ad blocking as standard.
There can be no doubt that the days of fire-and-forget advertising are gone. If marketers are to regain the initiative from the consumer, then it will be with their permission.
The hard truth is that persuading consumers to allow advertisers into the digital equivalent of their personal space, bearing nothing but sales messaging, is a huge challenge. How is it possible? To start with, they must positively contribute to the user experience of any given app, device or website. That means harnessing new tools and technologies to deliver valuable and exciting creative, in the right way, at the right time, no matter how diverse the audience.
With that in mind, here are three things that almost all advertisers need to think about, and work on.
Knowing your audience
Thanks to cookies and ever-more sophisticated user data, understanding the differences between potential buyers is as easy as it’s ever been. But too often, this doesn’t govern the type of advertising they receive. One-size-fits-all messaging works for some, but it unnecessarily neglects a myriad of smaller groups and isn’t going to persuade anyone that ad blocking is a bad idea.
Knowing your platform
Mobile is more popular than desktop as a means of accessing the internet, but it’s also a lot less generic. The difference between mobiles, tablets and even phablets are vast in terms of the way they’re used and the creative opportunities they present. As well as taking this into account, advertisers must also cater to the shorter attention spans mobiles have given us and embrace new opportunities. For example, mobile content has the huge advantage of allowing more direct interaction with the user.
Knowing how to work in real-time
Building campaigns creatively, using the best technologies and ideas available, is only the start. Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to ever know exactly how they’ll perform, especially in the context of specific audiences and platforms. The power that real-time analytics provides to instantly view the success or failure of a campaign allows managers to continually assess and improve their content based on user engagement. User engagement equals cut through, and cut through equals value, to the advertiser and the user. Real-time optimisation ensures not just better results, but the best possible chance of combating user apathy. At the next level, this then allows advertisers to test creative, offers and messaging to see what works.
Audiences no longer need to be passive, and they have no reservations about proving it. The relationship between brand and consumer is more of a two-way conversation than it’s ever been before, and that changes the recipe for success. It’s an arms race that puts advertisers on the back foot.
If they’re not able to mature their approach as fast, or faster, than audiences are maturing theirs, then we may indeed be facing the ad-blockalypse.