Ben Chivers, Managing Director at Silverbullet.
No More Ads.
When I tell people, “I help companies target consumers with the right advertising at the right time”, the usual response is: “OH. You’re the reason I’m being followed around the internet. I hate that sort of advertising”.
An ex-colleague of mine once said: “Ads are for poor people”. I disagree. We are never going to live in a world with no ads, no matter how much money we have. Think about your journey to work, when you head out for a run, or simply getting ready for your day to begin – how many ads are you exposed to on billboards, radio, and browsing on the internet? A lot. No amount of money will eradicate advertising.
The question is, would consumers truly want no ads? How would consumers be able to access the internet for free? How would people know of the latest products that are most relevant to them? How can we access what we want, and when it is most relevant for us? It may not have seemed this way in the past, but advertising could enhance people’s lives, bring fulfilment or at the very least, support a need in a specific moment. I may be biased, given my career choice, but I do believe advertising has an important role to play – not just to fund the content we want to consume – but to bring value.
And for the advertisers themselves, how would they understand more about their audiences? What would happen to everyone who resides in the (m)adtech industry?! Most importantly how would content be funded?
Let’s dig a little deeper:
The Content owner lens:
Consumers pay for content – Making pay per view the only way to see the great content you want to watch.
Would consumers really pay for the TV, radio, print which they consume, and internet sites they use? Arguably, the BBC is doing this right now in the UK, but for every channel?
ITV offers consumers the opportunity to see ad free content on the ITV player for £3.99 a month. Even with this, some US shows have to show ads due to copyright restrictions. During live sporting events if you don’t see ads, you are just shown a slate saying the content will return soon. Personally, I would rather see ads than a blank slate. Imagine the Super Bowl without ads?!
Web browser Brave is trying a similar model; they will simply block all ads. Users are encouraged to “support” their favourite publishers by making a monthly donation. Brave will then distribute the donation to the publisher sites you visit the most. Seems like a great idea, but (personally) I can’t see this taking off.
What would this mean for the creative industry? Fewer channels and websites? Less content? Worse content? Less bands, actors, script writers?
The Personalisation Lens:
Consumers get to choose the ads they want to see.
I love seeing movie trailers. I would gladly watch these ads over Home Insurance Ads; however, what if there was a great new Home Insurance product out there perfect for me? How would I know about it if I was watching the latest Star Wars trailer? Sometimes we often don’t know what advertising we want to be exposed to, because we’re not thinking that far ahead. Could this be a case where advertisers know us better than ourselves?!
Google offers a certain level of ad personalisation. But really this is just setting your interests so marketers can target you better.
What is abundantly clear, is personalised experiences when browsing online, or across multiple touch points, is so important for advertisers today. Digitally savvy consumers today do have an understanding that their consented data will be used in order to serve them relevant ads. We as an industry need to make this happen, putting their privacy at the centre, to deliver the right message, to the right person, in the perfect moment.
The Brand Lens:
Delivering the right message, to the right consumer.
This morning I saw an ad for Suffolk University, even though I was on a site where I gave my date of birth. (For context, I’m about 20 years too old for this ad!). Brands don’t want to waste their money showing you ads that aren’t relevant. They also don’t intentionally want to “piss you off”. FACT.
The (m)adtech industry is arguably going through one of the biggest shifts it has witnessed in a while, whereby old ways of working are no longer applicable. As an industry we have spent time and investment creating the perfect marketing formula: the right person, the right time in the right environment. Yet, we’ve made many mistakes along the way. From consumer back-lash surrounding data leaks, feeling “stalked” on the internet to an overwhelming want for privacy-first practices, to the governmental regulations such as the GDPR giving the industry a well overdue wake up call.
In light of the third-party cookie demise, it’s time for the industry to pause and take stock of what needs to change in order to truly deliver the holy grail of marketing – the right person, the right time in the right environment – delivering a true value exchange.
No More "Pointless" Ads.
It’s not that consumers don’t necessarily want ads, it’s that they don’t want intrusive, irrelevant, and somewhat pointless ads. There is a base-line understanding from the majority of consumers that advertising fuels the content which we consume. But rather it be a “give and take” scenario, it’s time we as an industry created the value exchange.
People will always have preferences over the level of targeting of ads – it’s fine: everyone is an individual. Brands and content owners need to ensure these preferences are taken into consideration; they need to ensure people are treated as individuals, and allow them to be in control of the level of targeting they receive.
So now, when people ask me what I do, I will say: I help companies give people control of the content they see.” And, if they don’t understand that I will resort to saying: “I prevent the creepy ads that follow you round the internet, and help advertisers do better!”