It’s the start of a new year. From weight loss to stopping smoking to collecting an airsick bag from every major airline — yes, that was in fact someone’s
resolution, as detailed in a USA Today story — this is the time when we resolve to do something different to make a change in our lives.
And seeing how
marketers are people, too — yes, they really are — the following is the resolution I hope all marketers adopt in 2019 concerning ad blockers and ad-blocking technology: Embrace, revel and
rejoice in them!
Why in the world would I want marketers to celebrate something that prevents their advertising messages to be seen by consumers,
essentially costing them money in the process?
Well, before I get to my odd way of thinking, it’s important to get an overall context of where we are when it comes to
the use of ad blocking. According to eMarketer, one in four people will use some form of ad
blocking in 2019, up from one in five just three years ago. And that number is only expected to climb.
Steve Kelly, the director of media and digital at KFC, told eMarketer something I think should be plastered on the wall of every marketer’s office the world over — a quote that supports my argument perfectly. “We [KFC] try to lean in and acknowledge the absurdity of advertising in our content and make the experience more enjoyable,” Kelly said. “That may manifest itself in an 8-hour interactive live-stream of a room full of kittens playing with a Colonel-shaped cat climber."
I absolutely love Kelly’s use of the term “the absurdity of advertising,” for it acknowledges he understands something so many others do not: We’re not curing cancer here. We’re marketers trying to sell something to someone. Period.
The method through which we try and peddle our wares is what’s in question here. And what could possibly be more absurd than an 8-hour interactive live stream of a room full of kittens playing with a Colonel-shaped cat climber?
With All Due Respect to the Queen
2018 saw us say goodbye to many famous people, chief among them the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. And if I may paraphrase the queen just for a moment, when it comes to consumers, it is not only respect they seek — it is also relevance.
Simon de Beauregard, director at Absolut, who also spoke with eMarketer, nailed it when he said: “Consumers are looking for something relatable that offers them some sort of advantage and isn’t just blind content being forced on them.”
And yes I fully acknowledge the “creepiness factor,” as eMarkter analyst Nicole Perrin wrote: “The one problem with relevance is that it can creep consumers out; 2018 has been a year of consumer backlash, as users are concerned with how their data is being used to target them. While consumers are more receptive to relevant ads, they still don’t like being tracked.”
This just in, marketers: You don’t need to track to be relevant. You can be relevant by merely personalizing an email. You would be amazed at the difference between “Dear Valued Customer” and “Dear Steve” when it comes to results.
Of course this is an incredibly simplistic example, but that’s part of the point: Keep it simple. You don’t need to acknowledge every little detail -- AKA, piece of data -- you have on a given consumer in order to display relevance.
And make no mistake about it, consumers are fully aware of where the creepiness line is, with 75% stating they find most forms of personalization to be at least somewhat creepy.
Ask yourself the question: If you received XX, would you find it to be creepy? If the answer is yes, don’t do it. Simple.
Back to the Odd
OK, so why would I ever suggest that marketers embrace ad blocking?
Would you believe ad blocking is actually good for marketers?
A few years ago, eMarketer, in an e-book dealing specifically with ad blocking, very astutely pointed out that “savvy advertisers might see ad blocking as a useful wake-up call, and not just as a threat."
The research company even went so far as to suggest that some (advertisers and marketers) will "decide blocking does them a favor, by discouraging them from practicing forms of advertising consumers don’t like anyway," adding that "content and formats that actually appeal to consumers are likely to undercut the market for technologies that push ads away."
So you see, my odd way of thinking is really not that odd at all -- at least not in this case.