No One WANTS To Watch Your Advertising.

People tolerate advertising because they get something out of it, period. I am a little tired of hearing the argument “if it’s the right ad in the right place, then people will be engaged.” I am a huge fan of relevancy, but you’re not going to convince me that it’s possible to achieve perfect relevancy and solve the issue of advertising on the Internet.

I have a number of issues with the utopian “relevancy is all we need” argument:

1.  How do I know an advertisement is relevant until I give it my attention? There is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here: An advertisement might be relevant, but I’ll never know it unless I have a good treason to give it my attention.

2.  I’m not even interested in paying attention to ads that are relevant to me most of the time. For example, I buy soda, but it doesn’t mean I’m actively giving my attention to Coke and Pepsi whenever I come across their advertisements on the Internet.

3.  Achieving true relevancy is a lot more complicated than just the right product offer. Think of this as having the right product message, but the wrong delivery. I use soap when I shower (you’re surprised, I know), but most soap advertisements aren’t all that interesting/funny/entertaining/emotional. Perfect exception that proves the rule: this recent, brilliantly funny Axe commercial. But maybe you don’t find the commercial funny. This gets into the argument of whether marketers need to just make “viral” ads. And for every advertisement that goes viral, I’ll show you 1,000 that don’t. Like those odds for keeping your clients’ business?

4.  Marketers would like the ability to deliver their message even to those people who don’t think their product is for them. Actually, I would go so far as to say that marketers should especially covet the opportunity to engage with people who might not think this is the right product. Good advertising creates positive product association over time, or at least that’s the plan.

So if relevancy isn’t going to suddenly solve the challenges facing advertising on the Internet, what will? That’s the reinvention of the contract between people and content producers (publishers). People have been willing to give a LIMITED amount of their attention to advertising, even without some utopian, perfect relevancy, in exchange for free or cheap content. So what are you giving people in exchange for their attention? That question goes to marketers and publishers. Pepsi has realized that it has to give people something in exchange for their attention, and so we have Pepsi Refresh.

People need incentive to engage with advertising, and it’s publishers’ and agencies’ job to work together to find the proper incentive to engage people’s attention with advertising. Then, if the ad is relevant, all the better 😉

By Joe Marchese
Joe Marchese is President of socialvibe.
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