Tuesday, August 11

Democracy Has No Place In Advertising

There's an old saying in advertising that if you want consumers to love your TV ads, just put babies and puppies in them. Which is kinda true. Everyone loves puppies and/or babies. They are fun to look at, especially when doing something cute like getting messy or making a funny face. Come on, you lovvvvve it!

This is also known as the Last Ditch Attempt to win a client over, after they have chewed up and spit out the last 5 creative reviews (the client, not the puppy).

But you are likely to get a big fat middle finger if you ask consumers directly if they like advertising. Of course not! The horror! Ads suck! Where's my Tivo cheat code for the 30 second skip button? [here it is]

Consumers don't hate advertising. They just hate the fact that advertising persuades them to buy things they weren't really thinking about.

Which makes the recent news that Digg will allow users to vote on ads -- and potentially tie back an ROI to these approvals -- completely hilarious. I mean, preposterous. I mean, probably unavoidable given our fascination with all things online collaborative:
Those votes don’t just affect where an ad shows up on the site, but also how much Digg charges the advertisers for each click; the more a readers like an ad, the less advertisers pay. That creates an additional incentive for the advertisers to create good ads, and for Digg users to actually read and interact with them.
The average CTR is a dismall 1 out of 1,000 users who see a banner ad. The chance that they will go one step further and express an opinion on that banner? Better get those baby wranglers on retainer. What's your Cost Per Approval (CPAval)?

The idea that a banner's likability should determine its cost (and ultimately its ROI) is like saying Google should charge more for funny paid text links. Sure your insurance link might get a thumbs up if it was in the form of a limerick, but does that mean it is driving more qualified traffic to your quote engine?

Then again, there is the recent debate that Bud Light's sales decline is directly related to its lack of funny.

As I have ranted previously, the problem with online advertising isn't the state of its creative execution. It's the fact that consumers have learned to completely ignore your "traditional" online ad units. Like or dislike is irrelevant when consumers are systematically ignoring you from the start. When the Tivo skip button is subconscious then even a Human Baby - Puppy - Kitten Incubator online ad is doomed.

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