Advertising – The Fundamentals Still Matter

A colleague recently shared the insight that people don’t like advertisers.  That comment intrigued me and so I quickly found that Forrester Research ’s had recently produced a report drawing that conclusion and pointing out that more than half of American households use some form of ad-blocking technology or software such as Tivo, a spam filter or a pop-up blocker.

A little more research revealed a wide range of comments, likes, dislikes – and a widely varying degree of technical sophistication on the part of consumers in general.  This last point stuck in my mind for two reasons.  First; it seemed the greater one’s “technical comfort level”, the greater the expectation for non-intrusive, entertaining advertising.  Second; what’s old is new…

A message is either targeted to its intended audience – or it’s not; or by design, it’s targeted to a broad-but-related range of targets and some drop-off is expected.  Advertising has always been a dynamic function.  Technology and the typical users of its various flavors have only made it more so.  The upshot is that fundamentals haven’t changed, there are just more delivery options. 

I would add that a lot of advertising is poorly done — either in execution or targeting — and that often advertisers don’t take into consideration the pervasiveness of advertising that people are exposed to — and this works against otherwise good, effective work.

Sometimes the net result of messages from print, broadcast, the internet, mobile – add up to being too much for many people, making it ever-more important to consider the volume across all media to which an audience is being exposed.

Volume will only continue to grow – but messaging will become better-coordinated. What we think of as the “messaging environment” also will continue to shift, making successful strategy increasingly seem like grabbing at sand unless we accept and overlook being a half-step or so behind emerging trends — and that is not a bad place to be.

I can think of a highly successful car company that has surpassed its rivals by never being in the vanguard, but rather introducing technology that’s proven. That particular brand is known for quality and reliability – not bad things in the car business.

Translating that to advertising: simple, clear, well-targeted, non-cutting-edge campaigns might not win awards – but may well produce the best results for clients.