Arms Race To Annoy Prospects?

According to Millward Brown, Generation Z, ages 16-19 — who are just on the cusp of being most marketers’ key target audience — apparently hate digital ads even more than those who came before them.

While probably a byproduct of the considerable amount of time this group spends on their phones, less than 25% of Gen Z had a positive perception of ads within online search, online display, desktop video and mobile video. They are especially annoyed by ads they see as invasive, such as non-skippable pre-roll video ads.

So it will be interesting to see how they react to the news that Facebook will soon launch mid-roll ads that will interrupt videos after about 20 seconds of viewing.

In all of the coverage I read, the only folks who thought this was a good idea were in the ad business. Everyone else thought this was a terrible idea that will only piss off viewers and cause them to abandon videos at the 21-second mark.

Lots of people have gone broke betting against Facebook, but I have to agree on this one UNLESS the ad message is utterly native to the video content (think a band member being interviewed between songs).



Because of the vastness of the Internet audience, there seems to be little thought given to the user experience when it comes to online advertising. The rule of thumb seems to be, we have to get their attention somehow — even if it means covering up content on phones until users have to close it, or starting video as soon as a page loads, even if the user has no interest in it.

And these are not the most egregious examples. These little micro-aggressions mount up and result in a user’s decision to download ad blockers.

But, you say, Facebook is not hurt by ad blockers — especially in the mobile environment. So that makes it OK to further alienate users who have already said that don't like "ads within online search, online display, desktop video and mobile video."

One gets the impression that folks in martech think only in silos such as programmatically placed display ads OR video pre-rolls OR retargeting OR linear TV OR terrestrial radio OR place-based. Sure, they try to calculate how to make all of these platforms work together to be sure they smack the consumer upside the head at least seven times. But they fail (I think) to consider the user who is getting bombarded by an increasing number of ads served in an increasing number of ways, leading to fatigue and blindness at best and ad skipping and ad blocking at worst.

I am not alone in swearing that I will never buy from brands that run obnoxious ads, or that seem to have no frequency cap.

There are ways to calculate cross-platform reach and frequency — Telmar comes to mind — so that plans have something of a balance in exposure, but there should also be a halt to the arms race to see how many more ways we can annoy users with ads.  

We are off to a bad start with Generation Z.

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