Marketers mustn’t be afraid to click on ads
If your response to advertising is fear and avoidance, what kind of example are you setting? Besides, columnist Rob Rasko argues, creatives are getting more engaging in response to the competitive environment.
There is a lot of chatter in our industry about the negative effects of ad blocking. And while ad blockers present a serious concern for our industry, would it hurt to consider, on a lighthearted note, that one shouldn’t be afraid to click on ads? I plan to click on more ads going forward, and in support of our industry, I’m encouraging my friends to do the same.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we revert to the days of click farms and other abuses that skew engagement data, I’m only suggesting that we as industry leaders have an opportunity to control this important conversation by engaging with the ads we find interesting and sharing with others the positive experiences we have with them.
Are we ad-averse?
I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that we’ve all trained ourselves to look past advertising online and ignore or skip ads, but advertising can be fun and creative. Lately, all three of my kids are walking around talking about one of the various insurance ads they see, “Hi, this is Jake from StateFarm,” or singing, “Nationwide is on your side.”
Thinking about ads from a child’s point of view — before they’re trained to automatically have a negative perception of ads — can help you see them in a whole new light. You might notice that they can be really catchy, informative and interesting. I think we owe it to ourselves, our livelihoods and our future to click.
Of course, we can’t just click on every ad we see. We need to use discretion when engaging with ads online. Engagement is a metric that many marketers use to determine if a specific advertisement is resonating with their target audience, so an advertisement’s relative performance could be skewed if people simply clicked on ads without thinking. But taking a moment to click on an ad that you did actually engage with shows marketers that their message is, in fact, being heard.
If you were in the market for a car, for example, why not give the ads that remind you about your research on a particular make and model a little love? Who knows, maybe interacting with the ads will lead to a great offer just for showing your interest.
Grabbing attention at the start
Today’s ads are great, and they are changing to reflect new user habits and shortened attention spans; you may have noticed by now that Google allows you to skip YouTube ads after six seconds or, in some cases, after 30 seconds. What you may not have noticed is that advertisers are starting to pack a punch into the first six to keep you watching longer; if they can grab your attention quickly, they may keep you a bit longer. All good — smart and not harmful, and they got your attention, right?
I heard recently the number one reason consumers install ad blockers is that they heard their friends are doing it. They’re driven by fear of missing out or not feeling cool. And while other drivers, such as data usage and battery drain, are all understandable reasons ad blockers have grown in adoption, as an industry, we need to remind consumers that the value exchange is still “cheaper” than actually paying for premium, ad-free content.
What better way to live out this sentiment than by engaging with more ads and sharing the positive experiences that come from it?
How ads are getting more engaging
Here are just a few examples of how improvements to advertising are making engagement much more user-friendly:
- Ads are getting safer. You can’t pick up an industry trade journal without reading something about fighting fraud or viewability, and that’s bad, right? Well, actually, it’s good because it’s about an industry that’s self-policing and making itself safer each day.
- Regulations are formalizing. The government and public policy folks are well aware of the dangers of the internet. This is good, too. As much as folks like to say this is early days, it’s not. Some oversight and regulation is a good thing (as long it’s not too much).
- Ads are fun! They can be entertaining and funny — in a market where attention is so scarce, and time is a rare commodity, you can expect that ads will only get better. They’ll have to in order to capture or keep your interest.
The idea of intentionally engaging with ads, as I’m suggesting, is nothing if not controversial. During my research, I reached out to numerous senior leaders and asked them to comment, but no one would. Perhaps this suggestion was not serious enough when compared to the weight of the problem that wide adoption of ad blockers presents, and I agree that is a tricky hurdle to overcome.
But while encouraging our industry to click on more ads and share their positive experiences with digital advertising isn’t a solution to the entire problem, it is one step that I feel is necessary in lightening up an already heavy and important conversation.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.