Picture the scene: you’re trying to share a video with a couple of friends to illustrate a point you’ve been arguing about for the last half hour. As the video loads, an ad pops up at twice the volume of what you’ve been playing before. You groan and turn the volume down, but you’ve missed the chance to skip the ad and get bounced to your browser as the brand site loads. You switch back to YouTube but the conversation has moved on and your friends have lost interest. Advertising has ruined the moment.
We access the internet every day to enhance our reality: to find information, share moments, and connect with those we love the most, not to seek out ads. Our recent Connected Life study revealed that, despite soaring usage of platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and consumers becoming more connected, 26% are actively ignoring ads and the better the ad tech capabilities of that country, the more likely they are to block ads. Many businesses are struggling to find a relevant role in people’s lives, meaning that much of the content that marketers painstakingly create is viewed as clutter. As Jan Koum, CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp puts it:
"There's nothing more personal to you than communicating with friends and family, and interrupting that with advertising is not the right solution.
No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow."
The fact is that ads can be a pain: they interrupt moments with family, fall short of what people find funny and often, don’t engage quickly enough.
As marketers, we can now access our customers at any time of day or night, but our eagerness may be letting us down: with 34% of internet users claiming to feel ‘stalked’ by brands online and Kantar Millward Brown's AdReaction shows that up to 52% of generations X, Y and Z admit to “skipping ads whenever they can”. YouTube is the latest platform to embrace the need to provide better advertising by announcing that from 2018 it will stop allowing the 30-second unskippable ad and will focus instead on shorter formats
This problem is compounded as consumers spend ever longer online and as global digital ad spend increases, expected to grow to a share of over 30% of all media in 2017 (GroupM: Worldwide Media and Marketing forecasts, December 2016).
This is often a hard pill for us marketers to swallow. We develop a deep understanding of the brands that we work with and the people who buy them and often become passionate advocates. We strive to create content that appeals to them on an emotional level and that we want to share.
But whilst this may be our reality, it is not so for our customers. Whilst we may pour our heart and soul into creating incredible content, we must work harder to contextualise what we serve, to understand and speak to the emotional state of our customers as we do. Your ad will be viewed alongside scores of others, people may be busy, tired, stressed or simply trying to prove a point: and your ad is in the way.