The Choices We Make - Planning For Choices

Last week I hypothesized what the future of advertising might be like and a number of people chimed in with responses that dealt with the choices we make regarding the utilization of media on a day-to-day basis, but what choice do we really have as consumers?

Media surrounds us at all hours of the day and is completely unavoidable. There are certain times of the day where you may exercise the right to not utilize Television or the Internet or a Magazine, but chances are that when you select not to use one form, you are selecting to use another form of media, one that may not be as invasive or aggressive. If you choose not to watch TV, maybe you read a book. If you choose not to surf the web (how dare you), maybe you would rather go for a hike! No matter what you choose though, there is a good chance you can be reached by advertising or marketing. If you read a book, it's possible that you may not even realize the product placement that is tied into the story. If you go for a hike, you may come across anything as overt as a skywriter to as subtle as the branding of the REI pack bouncing in front of you.



Advertising and marketing are unavoidable. The only real choice that we face as consumers is how passive or aggressive we want those forms of advertising or marketing to be at any given time. This brings up an interesting quandary that has been addressed from time to time online... would a consumer be willing to pay for content in order to avoid advertising?

So far, this has not been a sustainable business model in the online world, and there are very few examples of this being pursued in the offline world either. Imagine if your cable operator offered you the basic service, but a premium service offered your favorite programming with no commercials? Even the impending growth of Video-On-Demand does not profess to remove the advertising, so how could this choice be one that we are examining online?

If the consumer has voiced their opinion that they feel advertising online is too invasive, but they are not willing to pay a premium for content that would also eliminate a portion of this advertising, what message does this choice send to advertisers and marketers? It would seem that the consumers are saying, "We don't like this ad model, but we don't dislike it enough to warrant paying you more money". So is it effective? Well, whether they click or not, they certainly notice it enough to have formed an opinion on it.

What about the other choice... simply to ignore the advertising and move on with your life? I don't think this is truly possible, either. An interesting quote that I came across, and has been paraphrased time and time again is, "There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt". This cynical point of view can be taken to mean that consumers are not able to come to a distinctly unique decision, they are always influenced by advertising and marketing, whether they know it or not.

So do we truly have a choice when it comes to how media shapes our lives or is the mix of conscious and sub-conscious messaging too much for us to avoid?

We may not have a choice as consumers, but as advertisers we do have the choice for how overtly we want to affect the daily lives of our target audience. And we should remember that though we are advertisers, we are also consumers. The point being that when we develop media plans and recommendations for reaching an audience, we should always think from the point of view of the consumer. If the consumer were you, what types of advertising or marketing would you want to see? What types of messages might be too much for you or what types of messages would drive your purchase consideration?

Some types of products and services will require a more invasive form of advertising. Your ad planning should consider this as well as the attitudes of the consumer. Is there a higher threshold of acceptance for invasiveness in gaming ads or entertainment ads than there are for packaged goods or other products?

These are the choices that we face as advertisers as a result of the choices made by our audience or the general consumer. Be sure that your planning incorporates this thinking or the backlash may be detrimental to the growth of your brand.

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