The Digital Marketing Crazy Train

Digital Advertising as a Marketing Strategy 

We are riding a digital marketing crazy train these days! Particularly in the ad space. I even get confused. Are digital ads intrusive? Or are they quite awesome? Are they real? Are they fake? Should I run this type of ad? Or that type of ad? Do I love them? Hate them? Or am I simply indifferent to them?

I want to talk about three things today:

  1. The intrusiveness of digital advertising
  2. The relevance of digital advertising
  3. The sheer amount of digital advertising

And then I want to speak to why digital advertising continues to be a marketing strategy brands should consider. Not the only strategy, but certainly a piece of the pie.

  1. Digital Ad Intrusiveness 

In the digital ad world, we use the word “intrusive” quite a bit. So exactly how many of your potential customers feel these ads are intrusive? And are they more intrusive today than they were a few years ago?

In a survey of internet users by Kantar Millward Brown, 71% of respondents said ads are more intrusive now than they were three years ago. So there’s that. And I get that. I get annoyed.

But … are these ads still generating click through? Are you still clicking through? Regardless of if you find them intrusive or not? Because that’s what matters to the brands investing in this digital space to drive awareness and growth.

  1. Digital Ad Relevance 

Now on the flip side, many US internet users believe ads have become more relevant, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Over half of 18-36 years old’s surveyed felt this way. And that’s a big old target market for many of us. So it’s important to keep in mind that this generation – yes, the Millennials – are the first generation to grow up online, in this era of infinite choice. They are used to digital ads. It’s what they know.

But even with those indicting ad relevancy, brands still struggle to cut through the clutter and generate that brand differentiation that so many desire. Most of this survey group indicated that online ads are easy to ignore. So know this audience. Understand they don’t like you to simply talk at them, they want genuine service and engagement. And they want a good deal.

  1. Quantity of Digital Ads 

Is the quantity of digital marketing ads we’re seeing increasing? 79% indicated (same Kantar survey as above) they do feel ads are appearing in more places. Fair. But are we seeing more ads because we’re spending more of our time consuming media in a variety of digital channels? Yes.

The usage of second screens is even increasing. We are becoming those people that so many of us said we wouldn’t become (at least that my fellow Gen X community said we wouldn’t become). We are using two screens at once.

eMarketer predicts 186 million US adults will, at least once per month, watch traditional tv while simultaneously using a digital device to browse the web in 2018. That’s up 17% in the past two years. I’m already there! I’m a contributor to that stat. I don’t feel awesome about it. But I am. So yes, we feel the increase in digital ads. But to some extent, we’re bringing that on ourselves.

So Should Brands Keep Investing in Digital Marketing? 

We have most consumers finding ads intrusive. We also have one of our largest target markets indicating they find digital ads to be increasingly relevant. And we have all consumers indicating that regardless of how they feel, there are more ads in market than ever before.

So do we as marketers continue investing in this space? Are brands seeing the return on their investment?

Yes. Marketers should continue investing. Yes. Marketers are seeing a return on advertising spend. How you measure your return can take on several different forms, so keep your goals in mind and plan your measurement strategy accordingly.

Know that marketers are increasing spend in this space. Particularly in native advertising in the social and mobile space. Native advertising – ads that match the form, function and feel of the content in which they appear – will make up over 58% of US digital display spending in 2018. And on top of that, more than 80% of all digital ads will be purchased programmatically. Meaning ads will be bought via automated channels.

And marketers are seeing a return. Now don’t assume that you will. You do have to work for it. You must conduct your audience research so you can ensure you are relevant to your customers. And you can’t just assume this strategy will work right out the gate! You need to watch it and optimize based on performance. Yes – there is some work involved. But that holds true to pretty much anything in life, so don’t think your marketing strategy is any different.

But Marketers – Simply Be Aware

Be aware of trends. Be aware of haters. And be aware of Ad Blockers, and why consumers are taking notice of this ability to block your brand.

Digital Trends

Keep your eyes on these. Know that video advertising has increased by over 140% in the B2C space since 2015, and over 200% in the B2B space in this same time frame. Remember those stats on native advertising in the social and mobile space. Know these trends, and ensure you know your audience. Implement your ad campaign, and then optimize it along the way.

Ad Blockers

Projections indicate that three in 10 US internet users will use an ad blocker this year. Why? Because they are, as we already discussed, finding digital ads intrusive. But if you dig into that a bit deeper, as the Interactive Advertising Bureau has, there are certain types of digital ads that consumers find MORE annoying and intrusive than others. Ads that block their content as an example. And ads that follow them when the scroll. Video ads that you’re not able to skip over. So yes, Ad Blockers will impact click through rates. But is it such a significant impact that marketers should abandon this strategy? No.

Your Audience

We’re all target customers for many brands. I’m in this digital space. As are you. So as consumers, we should get that we’re going to be seeing more ads online. Because we are digitally in more places!

Personally, I still find these digitally intrusive ads more tolerable than the commercials during my rare time with the television (especially during campaign periods). Because they are still often in my control. I can ignore them. I can sometimes skip them. As an advertiser, yes, this space is relevant. I’m an easy sell. Catch my attention here, and you’re making it easy for me to buy your product.

So understand your audience and what they prefer. Stay close to trends. Be aware of what consumers are wanting to block – what they are finding most intrusive. And plan your marketing ad strategy with these key considerations in mind.