When ads are welcome

One of my esteemed colleagues used to like to reflect annually on the continued decline in the numbers of people who agreed with the TGI statement “The ads are better than the programmes on TV”.  The glorious Tess Alps, ex ceo of Thinkbox would counter that this was because the programmes had got better.

People always avoided ads.  Back in the 1970s they had to get up from the sofa and go to the kitchen to make a cup of tea to do so.  In the 1980s there was a mini crisis in the media community when the widespread use of remotes meant that switching channels became easier.  One media chief suggested that the solution to ad avoidance was more entertaining advertising.  The answer today is more relevant advertising, we know that relevant ads are 4 times as liked and more than 90% more actionable. 

People aren’t consuming less media, yet they are avoiding ads more, sometimes with adblockers, sometimes with premium subs, sometimes surely still by popping to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.  Lumen have given us stats on attention spans for ads, which are shrinking faster than the contents of a box of Celebrations does in an office communal kitchen.  The conclusion that younger cohorts’ brain functions have changed is less science and more speculation in my view.  Immerse them in content they love and their attention span is more than adequate. 

It is also true that some people have always enjoyed ads some of the time.  Partly because in the golden age of entertaining adverts they were funny, told stories first, or as System 1’s Orlando Wood would state, had more “right brain” appeal.

If the purpose of advertising is to create or maintain memory structures or to stimulate demand then finding people when they are open to adverts can only be a bonus.

Ads are still welcome when people have dwell time.  Watch people watch ads in cinema.  The right quality of ad will have them more than enraptured.  Ads are still welcome when people are bored.  Think of cross track posters on the underground when you’re waiting for a train, the relevance then might simply be to distract you from the underground.  There’s poems still on tube card panels, why not entertaining copy too?  Not everyone is head down on their phone in the tunnels. Glossy magazines can essentially be catalogues of appropriate advertising that fit round the editorial.

Dwell time at bus stops, on bus sides and roadsides in traffic is there to be taken advantage of by great creative copy.

The ads while you’re waiting for a wetransfer are a superb opportunity too.

Pinterest has the magnetism in this respect of any special interest or community of passion magazine.  The right advertising fulfils the reason that people come into the site in the first place leveraging contextual advantage.  As the team put it at the Pinterest trends breakfast the community of Pinners are planners united by moments and interests not demographics.  If you have a brand that fits the trends then there is a community of interest who may welcome your message.  For example apparently finance will be fun this year (hmm?) and gamifying savings is on trend and could be your resonating comms message. 

At a recent event one attendee said that context was dead for advertising.  To misquote Mark Twain – the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. 

When ads are great, or when people are looking for distraction and when ads are greatly relevant then there is a better chance of breaking through everyday clutter to reach audiences in a richer and welcome environment.

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