Is Annoyance A Media Strategy?

Again and again, I have ads served to me that interrupt my digital and mobile actions. Popups are delivered that force me to landing pages and app store opens I didn’t ask for. Digital ads presuppose my interest in irrelevant products and services with no frequency cap. Despite the well-documented death of push marketing and the rise of the era of consumer control, it seems that many marketers believe that annoyance is still a viable strategic approach. 

So, if you want to up your “annoyance marketing” quotient, here’s a simple five-point plan:

1. Ignore user experience and expectations when serving your advertising. 

The new world of digital advertising affords marketers a plethora of tools and strategies for developing brand programming and campaigns that are relevant, timely and in-tune with a user’s mind-state and expectations. But flying in the face of this could also certainly help your brand stand out — and never mind the negative light it might shed on your brand. 

With this in mind, it makes sense to serve an interstitial to an app user looking for a quick answer to a question like a train schedule or sports score. Or a page take-over to a mobile web browser looking for a phone number to tell a restaurant he’s running late. Don’t worry that you’re annoying them, slowing them down, preventing them from accomplishing a task – they’ll remember you!

2. Count impressions not engagements

By now we all know the hoopla and to-do caused by viewability concerns, ad fraud, bots, and ad blocking. The industry is beginning to realize that, in general, a media “impression” is unlikely to actually make an impression. But the addiction to low-priced CPMs and flowcharts with tens of millions of impressions is too hard to kick.

So, since all we care about is the delivery of quantities of impressions, then be unconcerned about repetitive ad messages and overly high frequencies. If we believed the old rule of thumb that reaching someone three times was an effective reach, then reaching them with the same message 30 times is 10 times effective-er, yes? So Lyft, please continue to serve me dozens of mobile app ads, unabated. And Game of War, bravo, for your 100+ ad frequency!

3. Do not waste time creating customized and diverse content

It’s been proven repeatedly that having personalized, contextually relevant messaging improves effectiveness for advertisers. And that simply cutting and pasting executions from one platform to another is not only lazy but also frustrating to consumers and sub-optimal for advertisers.

But all that work and thinking is hard. So by all means, take that TV ad and use it as pre-roll. Use your print ad as a banner. And don’t worry about creating multiple executions, stick with a single one and run it to death. Ideas, creativity and likeability are over-rated, right?

4. Ensure click-throughs by all means necessary

Making life painful for your consumers can’t be a good thing. Forcing them to jump through hoops, lengthening their process or experience, and providing disappointment are recipes for disaster. After all, customer experience is the new favorite buzzword of the industry.

However, since getting clicks is often an important data point, let’s make click-throughs unavoidable. Hide the “x” box on the interstitial. Or make the box insensitive to a mouse. Or even better, just open the link anyway even if the user tried to click away. I’m sure there will be some folks who will be happy with where the link leads them, right?

5. Spam away

I subscribe to lots of blogs and e-newsletters. But somehow I get many more than I subscribed to. I don’t like getting what is essentially spam; does anyone? 

However, since newsletter subscribers are an important metric for many marketers, it’s a great idea to start sending your email to people who have never asked for it. Or ever expressed interest. And perhaps the best idea is to hide the unsubscribe link. That way you can count them as a subscriber for another mailing!

There you have it. If you believe that annoying your customer is a great way to market, follow these tips and you’ll be up there with the best. Of course, you could also try the exact opposite — if you’d rather avoid annoying them for a better customer experience.

5 comments about "Is Annoyance A Media Strategy?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, November 21, 2016 at 8:29 a.m.

    Agreed, Michael, but why blame the "media" people for bombarding us with redundent ads, interfering with our use of digital media, etc? Aren't the "creatives" who design the ads and the advertisers who approve both the ads and the media plans also to blame? In a recent case where I was involved, the media department's role was merely to spend the budget, without any reference to audience wearout due to excessive repetition, while the "creatives", having gotten a campaign approved, were afraid to alter what was "working". The client, who finally raised some questions, didn't appear to undersatnd that the media people and the creatives not only didn't speak the same language---they rarely interacted  in the first place. Moral of the story: Client, it's your money and your sales that are at play, don't wait until it's too late before getting all of your agency ducks in a row and marching to the same tune.

  2. Michael Baer from TechCXO replied, November 21, 2016 at 9:55 a.m.

    Agreed, Ed. There's no single person at fault. And, at the end of the day, it is the Client's money. I also agree that media dis-integration plays a role - when media and creative are sitting in separate silos it can be hard to find common ground.

  3. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, November 21, 2016 at 10:51 a.m.

    Ironically, it is the pop-ups, screen-obscurers, expand and explode, refuse-to-leave ads I see on trade and business content which are the most annoying.  

  4. PJ Lehrer from NYU, November 22, 2016 at 5:32 p.m.

    If it is, it certainly isn't working with this Boomer, or my Millennial students.  Here's a blog I wrote about it, with their comments.


  5. Michael Baer from TechCXO replied, November 23, 2016 at 10:11 a.m.

    Thanks, PJ. I'll check out your blog piece.

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