bad advertising

Why is digital advertising so bad?

Why is digital advertising so bad? 

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A friend of mine recently sent me a link over SMS text to look at a piece of exercise equipment. I clicked on the link, said “huh, that’s pretty neat” and then closed the link and went back to my regular life. Fast forward 3 days later and I have seen no less than 40 videos advertising this stupid thing across multiple channels. I DON’T EVEN WANT IT!

What are the issues with digital advertising?

Marketers feel the pressure of getting “good” return on investment (ROI) with their digital ads. Where it gets sticky is that “good ROI” is subjective. Does that mean that you want more people to just see it? You want more people to interact with it? You want more people to buy something? It all depends on the business goals. Putting that aside for a minute – companies are spending upwards of 124B on digital advertising in the US. 

statistic id183816 online advertising revenue in the us from 2000 to 2019

124 Billion Dollars. That’s not small money. Think about the single digital ad that has been following me around for the past 4 days. That company is investing actual dollars in showing me an ad for something I have zero intention of purchasing. They also had to spend money to create the ad, and every platform has different costs associated. If I had even an inkling, they have successfully annoyed me out of it. 

Why does this happen to consumers? 

What we’re seeing most commonly is that marketers are latching onto one or two data points and putting all of their eggs in that basket. In this example, I visited the website once for about 30 seconds and now I’m being retargeted all across the internet multiple times a day. Visiting a website one time is not a great indicator of intent to purchase something. The other side of that is that marketers are using what a consumer is interested in to target them. Let’s say I followed the Boston Bruins Facebook page. Marketers could use that information to advertise to me during a Bruins game, or say “show this ad to anyone interested in the Boston Bruins”. What this does is show me ads for something when all I really want to focus on is hockey. Again, they have managed to annoy me out of buying something. 

How do we solve this problem?

Better data analysis and better content. 

Let’s start with the data. Instead of retargeting someone who visits your site all of one time, how about retargeting when they have visited the site AND interacted with a couple of things. How about only retargeting people who have filled out a form or requested more information. Someone who is just browsing might be doing only that, browsing. Making a bigger assumption about their intent creates a bad user experience. 

Next is the content. You’ve probably been in the position of “hey, let’s promote this thing” and then you have about 10 seconds to slap together an image and some copy to catch people’s attention. How does that work out? For us, not well. But we’re not masters at advertising. Instead of using what I’m seemingly interested in and then showing me an ad that is not relevant to that topic, why not try weaving that interest into your advertising content? From this post, you know that i’m interested in in fitness and hockey. If you’re advertising a piece of kitchen equipment, you might think about how to tie those all in together. Perhaps the kitchen equipment is something that I can use post workout or when I’m making snacks for the game. See the difference? 

You have no shortage of data about your consumers, their behaviors, and what they like. Use it wisely and you’ll start to see those “good” ROI results that you’re after. 

What do you think of digital advertising? Let me know in our free Slack group:


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