Advertising! Put users first.

That’s a lemming that is.

Advertising is trying to kill itself but there is something we can do about it. Something quite simple. Hang with me and I’m going to show some practical, in market, ideas that will help to cure the malaise.

Advertising is sick (as in ill), we live in a world where users have clearly and emphatically rejected advertising. Take a look at these ad blocking stats.

And here some more info that tells us

- 84% of millennials block or skip ads all or some of the time

- Users see 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day, 68% recall less than five ads they’ve seen in the past week.

The great majority of users have gotten to the stage where advertising is a negative intrusion into their lives. It doesn’t deliver any value, in fact it compromises the value of the thing you were trying to do.

and yet advertising should perform a valuable function of connecting people to relevant new things or new developments of familiar things.

Is this a function that can now only be performed by word of mouth or sharing? Or should it be restricted to the very few advertisers who are smart enough to create ads that stand on their own as content?

The problem is advertising is for the advertisers and not for the users. And in today’s world users have an infinite choice of content and experiences that put them first

Uber, AirBnB, On demand binge TV, friends, clubs, restaurants, bars, sport, movies, travel . . . . .

There’s not enough time to get close to even listing the experiences let alone actually experiencing even a small fraction of it all. And yet in the middle of all this we have to wonder whether the ad industry is oblivious.

I was in Cannes in June, both bemused and entranced by the Industry and its raw POWER. I heard this from a leader of a global programmatic ad buying agency, at a seminar of luminaries “Ad blocking is not a problem for us”. Dude, how can it not be a problem if people don’t want to see your ads? I imagine the answers . . . “the stuff I’m doing works” . . . . “I’m cleverer with data and technology you see” . . . “I get more clicks / visits” . . . “look at my metrics” . . . “I am not one of the ones that purveys shit advertising”

But have you measured for instance, “how many people chose to not view my ad today?” or “how many people did I annoy with my ad?” Actually you don’t need to measure these figures because the ad blocking stats, the ad skipping stats and the intention of so many more users to block ads is just such unarguable proof that 99%+ will have been annoyed by your interruption. And therefore how is advertising working? The answer is, users seem to think it’s mostly awful.

In this (long but brilliant) talk Gary Vaynerchuk has the following quote (16:35 in) “Advertising, my friends, for the last seventy years, has done one thing more than its done anything else, it has stolen time from the end consumer. Advertising for the last seventy years has been built to not let you do what you actually wanted to do, stop you and then tell you about something”. This game is over.

What’s the answer?

Google is on the record as saying “by 2020, the vast majority of advertising will be native”. I think that’s possibly slightly depressing for the craft of advertising but it’s happening, will advertisers have to resort to writing clickbait headlines to generate attention? This future, dictated by Facebook and Google, will it evolve beyond advertising masquerading as content? I think, if you consider the user, it all feels rather underhand at the moment.

Gary Vaynerchuk in the video above, suggests, laser targeting and multiple, high value, audience specific creative executions and a clear focus on ROI, a strategy he has applied with apparent success on Facebook. A strategy I would recommend to all and a clear way forward for ad agencies and the industry.

But how about something completely different? Here I want to tell you about the work I and my colleagues at Samba Networks are involved in.

We believe in advertising that puts the user first. To that purpose we have created a service for messaging apps, with a clear and explicit value exchange. We focus on messaging because as I wrote previously, Messaging is the new Nirvana for Advertisers

Within that top app on your phone, the value exchange we create allows the user to choose which ads they view and when.Take a look at this user experience which is Samba in action in Kik (which reaches 40% of US millennials every day).

This UX , which by the way is the world’s first chatbot driven ad UX, creates great numbers

- ads are 96% viewable (MOAT verified)

- view through rates are 85%+

- click through rates are 3%+

These numbers are consistent across many categories and audience profiles from over 1800 blue chip brand campaigns and many millions of ad views. Most of the ads are programmatically sourced VAST or VPAID video and are most commonly 30 seconds long.

Our brand factor research shows very high uplifts for spontaneous and aided recall, favourability and purchase intention.

And when you ask a user what they think of the ad experience they say things like, “it’s great to be in control of the advertising”, “I respect a brand that values my time” and “I hate ads that interrupt my UX”

We live in a world where the average user sees many thousands of ads in a day

but research doesn’t go there because it punctures the industry delusion of “ad blocking is not a problem for us”. Ad blocking is not a problem, it is the clearest and most unarguable symptom of The Problem.

Let’s look at some more symptoms,

An Ad view is recorded on facebook if the user sees 3 seconds of the ad.

and Skippable ads on YouTube are skipped by 94% of viewers . Think about that, your brand actively rejected by 94% of users. Who’s plan is that?

But if you allow the user the choice, choose 1 or 2 ads a day rather than be spammed by many thousands of interruptions

and if you exchange value in the form of credits that can be used to deepen the experience of the app or site

then you can expect users to watch 30 second ads and to do so with respect for the brand that has valued their time

So I want to suggest to you that we are entering an age of advertising where the user comes first, which is how it should be and that many new services and platforms will be created to achieve this end. Take a look at these two user first data services people.io & citizen.me which allow users to make money from their data.

We have to build a better advertising industry and it’s happening now. Until now the industry has felt that the ad can choose the user, the transaction is about to even out as users gain ever more choice and control and advertising becomes a worthwhile user experience again.

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