Combatting Advertisement Oversaturation
If you own a mobile or desktop device in the digital age (and we know that anyone reading this will), you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of oversaturation across various advertising channels.
This is borne out by the statistics too, with research conducted by the marketing firm Yankelovic, Inc. revealing that the average person was exposed to a staggering 5,000 ads a day back in 2007.
More recently, it has been estimated that we now see up to 10,000 sponsored messages each day, creating a scenario where brands are finding it increasingly difficult to successfully engage customers and cut through the advertising noise.
This trend is particularly prevalent online, and there’s no doubt that customers are also becoming increasingly apathetic and cynical when being bombarded with a slew of branded messages. But what are the precise steps that you can take to combat this and ensure that your brand stands out from the crowd?
The Key Challenges that Brands Face
In truth, the problem of oversaturated ad channels is multifaceted, especially in terms of the effect that it has on consumers.
In-depth research carried out by UK firm Kantar has cast significant light on these challenges, which have combined to create a scenario where 55% of British consumers describe themselves as being “apathetic to advertising content”.
For example, there’s a fundamental problem in that just 11% of respondents said that they “enjoy” advertising, which means that consumers are already resistant to the lure of sponsored content even without factoring in the wealth of messages that they’re exposed to on a daily basis.
Of course, this issue has become increasingly prevalent in the digital age, in which customers have access to more advertising channels than ever before and spend barely any length of time disconnected from their devices or social networks.
For the vast majority that don’t enjoy advertising or receiving sponsored messages, this can appear overly intrusive and instantly create feelings of indifference and mistrust amongst even the most carefully targeted audience.
Another key exacerbating factor is the wealth of similar or untargeted ads that find their way into customer’s emails and social feeds, with a hefty 70% of consumers saying that they’re constantly exposed to repetitive promotional content.
This is central to the growing apathy that exists towards advertising, with new experiences known to stimulate the release of opioids and the brain hardwired to seek out new information over old, tired and familiar data.
So, in instances where customers are exposed to a slew of tired, repetitive and often overly-promotional ads, they’re unlikely to respond favourably or strive to engage further with the brand or website in question.
We’ve already touched on the issue of mistrust between customers and advertisers, and this is arguably a more serious issue for brands to overcome. This is borne out by Edelman’s Trust Barometer, which claims that the advertising sector has a paltry trust rating of 37% and is ranked last of all listed industries.
According to further research undertaken by Vision Critical, just 36% of shoppers say that they trust large brands to do what’s right, and this sense of cynicism is almost certainly being compounded by excessive advertising and the type of intrusive online messaging that interrupts people while at work and at times when they don’t necessarily want to engage with brands.
Targeted ads can appear particularly intrusive, and while this type of approach is welcomed by some consumers, around 54% object to the practice when it’s based on past online activity (we’ll have a little more on this later).
This is causing a rising number of customers to actively circumnavigate advertising and engage with content on their own times, both on and offline.
An estimated 22% of Brits used some form of ad-blocking technology, for example, while this figure increased markedly to 43% when appraising consumers aged between 18 and 24 (the increasingly seminal and mature Millennial demographic plays a particularly dominant role in driving this trend).
Beyond this, a whopping 44% of UK consumers currently pay for TV or video-on-demand subscriptions that are completely ad-free, such as Netflix, while even platforms such as the ITV Hub (which offers access to terrestrial channels) now allow customers to remove all sponsored messaging from programming for just £3.99.
Of course, not all customers access these platforms because of advertising concerns or a lack of trust in brands, but it’s estimated that around one-third deliberately seek out ad-free streaming services that allow them to enjoy programming in peace.
How to Combat These Challenges
These challenges can be quite oppressive brands, particularly those looking to achieve a viable return on their digital marketing spend.
Given that UK firms increased their digital ad spend by 13% to £7.3 billion in October of 2019, there’s an increasingly pressing need for brands to optimise their ROI and actively engage customers.
With this in mind, here are a few ways in which brands can combat the oversaturation of ad channels and compete more aggressively with their rivals in the modern age:
Create Ads That are Clear and Relevant to Recipients (But in the Right Way)
While Kantar may have found that 54% of customers object to ads that are targeted based solely on previous online activity, 45% felt that tailored messages were often more engaging and interesting.
This suggests that there’s a balance to be struck by advertisers here, primarily by creating messages that are clearly-defined, relevant and targeted to each recipient’s individual interests.
Make no mistake; 61% of customers prefer this type of advertising, while a further 44% find value in messages that they consider to be directly relevant to them.
The key here is for advertisers to use the vast swathes of customer data that they may have at their disposal wisely, initially by identifying information that pertains to their behaviour without compromising their privacy. For example, ads that are targeted based on customer information relating to sex, finances and health are especially sensitive, and should arguably be avoided in most instances.
The same principle can be applied to data that has been procured through third-parties, as this will not have been disclosed directly by customers. Targeted ads based on this type of data is likely to make the recipient uneasy, and reinforce any issues of trust and cynicism.
In terms of the structure of your ad, this will depend on the precise channel that you’re leveraging, but as a general rule you’ll need to create concise and clear messaging that ideally utilises an active tense.
This can create a sense of urgency amongst your audience, while developing primary, secondary and tertiary messaging also creates a consistent body of copy that you can use throughout a campaign depending on the type and the size of specific ads.
Create a Brand That’s Built on Honesty
If we accept that trust is an issue in the advertising realm, it stands to reason that brands built on the principles of honesty and frankness will fare better than others.
Of course, this can be an issue for brands that have previously seen their reputation damaged or questioned, as it can be challenging to alter the narrative and change the perception of consumers.
One brand to successfully achieve this was Dominos, however, after the much-loved pizza brand were featured in a viral video that showed staff members tampering with food. Additionally, the brand came under fire for the quality of their food, with the taste and the quality of the ingredients used drawing criticism from customers.
Domino’s took swift and decisive action, however, and decided to change the public’s perception by creating a brutally honest campaign which admitted the flaws in their recipes and promised to make drastic improvements.
This enabled the brand to frame the conversation positively and talk openly about the issues raised by customers, while introducing a self-deprecating sense of humour that underpinned the brand-new narrative and drove higher levels of engagement.
The key takeaways here are clear; as brands that are able to communicate honestly with their customers will successfully bridge any issues of trust over time, while creating ads that respond directly to feedback will also capture the imagination of consumers.
Create Integrated Marketing Campaigns
On a final note, it’s also fair to say that integrated marketing campaigns are more likely to create a greater sense of trust and engagement amongst consumers.
The reason for this is simple; as they enable brands to optimise the intended customer journey and their marketing funnel, by leveraging a variety of channels and driving assisted conversions at every stage of the campaign.
This type of campaign should include both on and offline channels, with traditional media such as billboards providing an excellent method of building trust, generating brand awareness and driving a high rate of activations online.
Billboards can prove particularly effective, as they provide a natural and non-intrusive platform that enables brands to capture a large target audience (particularly when using larger ads at roadside and city centre locations). This is important, as the average consumer now spends an estimated 70% of their time out of the home.
Studies also suggest that 56% of customers fundamentally trust billboards as an advertising medium, creating a scenario where this channel is able to drive an impressive rate of online interactions through Google and social media sites including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Traditional channels such as television and print media showcase similar trust levels of 63% and 60% respectively, meaning that they also provide an excellent opportunity to build awareness, effectively engage customers and encourage them to interact further with a particular brand online.
So long as you execute the individual elements of the campaign well and understand the precise role of each channel, you can effectively streamline your approach and avoid bombarding customers with advertising clutter.
The Last Word
The issue of over-saturation in advertising is a serious one, especially when you consider that the problem is most prevalent online, and the increased amounts invested in digital marketing year-on-year.
However, it is possible to cut through the advertising noise and successfully build brand awareness in the digital age, while also earning the trust of customers and engaging them across multiple channels.
The key is to focus on a streamlined by integrated marketing campaign, which utilises targeted channels wisely and communicates with customers as honestly as possible.