I am my own worst nightmare (as an advertiser)

I am my own worst nightmare (as an advertiser)

I’m a cord cutter. I run ad blockers in my browsers. The news I do read is usually on my iPhone or iPad - in reader mode or via reddit where ads are stripped away. As an advertising professional I should feel ashamed - but I don’t.

We are many. We are legion.

I’m not the only person trying to declutter and de-advertise my life. I have friends, relatives, and colleagues who all share in my filtering ways. Perhaps it’s a reaction to the increased noise levels of modern life. When we’re constantly connected it’s almost required that extraneous matter be removed. And for the most part, advertising is extraneous - and now I feel I’ve betrayed my profession.

Nobody ever wanted ads.

Ads were a necessary compromise. Free TV and Radio and cheap newspapers and magazines were and are possible because of advertisers. It’s the tradeoff everyone accepted until the internet arrived. With the net, suddenly ad-free options appeared and were affordable for all types of media. Now it’s possible to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime via affordable subscriptions - sans commercials. And news can be consumed on your own terms for free – or again, for nominal subscriptions. Ads are now an intrusion.

So how do advertisers reach people like me?

And here’s where my traitorous ways come home to roost. I’m in advertising, so I have to figure out how to reach myself - the cord cutting, ad blocking netizen. How do I advertise my client’s products and services to folks like me? And the scary truth - you can’t broadcast to me any longer. You can’t subject me to intrusive, distracting, and usually inane advertising. I have become the consumer (truly).

So now if I want to reach the likes of me, I'd better create something interesting and compelling. I can no longer be forcibly coerced... I have to be attracted and engaged with. It’s why content is touted as king. Of course, it still can’t be crap. It still has to interest me (if I’m in your target audience) and inspire me to interact with you.

You can see the shift rippling through major brands and advertising in general. Red Bull, Coca Cola, and other leaders have shifted to creating content. Engaging, sharable, viral oriented media that spreads and pulls people to it rather than bombarding them generic messaging. It’s why more and more media spending is shifting online where content is more readily discovered, shared, and increasingly consumed. It’s no longer effective to advertise to me - you have to interest, entertain, and engage me. Then – and only then – will you have an opportunity to sell to me. And as dirty as it makes me feel... I like it this way.

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Jul 23, 2014

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