This is the second in a series of posts discussing several challenges that marketers face in reaching their customers and how to overcome those challenges. This iteration deals with the inability of consumers to trust advertising. Part one dealt with dishonesty in marketing. Part three will break down the problem with “being sold.” Future posts will provide solutions to these problems.
You used to wake up with an alarm clock playing your preferred radio station (or at least one you hated so much that you had to get out of bed to turn it off). The alarm clock has been replaced by a cell phone playing Pandora. On your drive to work, you notice that the billboard on the side of the freeway that used to change every few months has been upgraded to a digital iteration that swaps ads every few seconds. When you get to your office and check the news, you see a column of ads, this time customized to one of your preferences or previous searches.
The number of ads to which consumers are exposed is on the rise. Where 40 years ago, consumers were exposed to approximately 200 ads per day (see https://ams.aaaa.org/eweb/upload/faqs/adexposures.pdf), today it is estimated that consumers are exposed to anywhere from 600 (see https://ams.aaaa.org/eweb/upload/faqs/adexposures.pdf) to 5,000 (see http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cutting-through-advertising-clutter/) ads in a day. This is caused in part by the proliferation of new media that exponentially segments what were once reliable consumers of a specific medium.
Although this proliferation of both ads and media provide some unprecedented opportunities for marketings, including the ability to reach niche audiences that were nearly impossible to reach before, it also creates some significant challenges (see the Marketer’s Milieu Infographic). Not only does it make for more media for the marketer to scour, but it also presents a real difficulty in getting the targeted consumer to give any heed to your ad when there is so much to compete with.
Put yourself in the place of the consumer. If you were to stand amidst the advertisement behemoth that is Times Square (see image above) does any one ad or message stand out? If so, what is it and why? Or, is the cache´of Times Square simply attributed to the overall experience of the overwhelming nature of all of the ads?
As consumers, we’ve become very adroit at tuning out what we perceive to be visual or audio noise. Yes, ads help us know which plumber to call in the event that my sewer line breaks, but we also know how to avoid it. Half of the reason for owning a DVR is the ability to skip the content you don’t care about. When the ads come on the channel/station is changed or the Pandora station is switched.
There are times when there are innovations that make us stop to actually consume the ad, such as in 2009 when CBS and Pepsi teamed up to deliver the first ever video ad in a print magazine (http://youtu.be/hjGQuneTWMY ). As no one had ever done that before, if you thumbed through the magazine, you had to stop and watch it as it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Although I could care less about CBS’ 2009 fall line up, I had to click the buttons to watch the videos simply because it was so innovative. However, such innovations in advertising are few and far between. If you don’t have millions to spend on the development of innovative advertising media, you’re forced to sift through the ever-expanding media while confronting an even larger challenge of getting your audience to not only notice your ad, but to remember it and accept whatever it is you’re trying to communicate.
This is not to say that marketers should not advertise. It is to say, however, that we as marketers must use the media at our disposal to communicate more effectively with consumers. We need to find ways to break through the clutter to make sure that they take note of the important things we have to say.
How to do that will be the focus of the next several posts.