Is relevant advertising really so annoying?

Simon Sinek has written a book about a brilliant idea: „Start with why„. Now he has written a semi-good blogpost about the ad industry titled „I hate you: a tale about the advertising industry„.  His main take out: agencies knowingly produce stuff people don’t want to see, so they look for ways to make people watch that stuff anyway. His proposal:

the ad industry should work to improve the quality of their product to a point where people want to watch it.

Well, isn’t that what creative agencies are trying to do anyway? It’s a problem of targeting. The best ad is wasted on someone who doesn’t care or even hate the brand. And once an ad is well targeted, it’s message should be relevant, and there should be no question about acceptance. A good creative targeted at the right audience should never fall into the trap of being annoying.

However, the world isn’t perfect, and in mass distributed media, there will always be a spillover – i.e. ads delivered to people who don’t care about the brand, the message, the offer. And it’s not only a question of entertainment, as Simon Sinek suggests:

The quality of advertising should always be measured based on how entertaining or engaging it is. They should stop measuring how many people are forced to watch (reach and frequency) and start measuring how many people choose to watch.

The main factor is not entertainment, it’s relevance. An ad can be highly successfull, if relevant, even if it’s not in the least entertaining. Given the right context, a fitting message and good targeting, you might also want to call advertising „information“.

Of course, if neither of that is true, you should call it „spam“ or simply annoyance.

The main point of Sinek is, however, that ad agencies produce their creative having a different target audience in mind: the client. For that matter, we might even add another target audience that sometimes play an important role: jurys of advertising award shows. Much of what is created serves to satisfy individual client needs, or may be even simply client internal political structures.

So Sinek argues, that ad agencies should instead again focus on their main target audience: the end customer.

Producing a product for the consumers who are the ones actually consuming the product makes more business sense, too.  Clients would be able to spend less on media because the work would be more memorable.  Plus, if people CHOOSE to watch the ads, they are more likely to like the brands, products and companies featured in those ads. In other words, if advertising was made for consumers and not clients the ultimate benefactor would actually be the client…and isn’t that supposed to be the job of good advertising?

Good idea. Given what I notice in the industry, this is definitely the intention when creating new ideas. Within the realm of highly user-centric media such as social media, this thinking has already started to sink in. It just needs to permeate all the layers of „integrated“ agencies, until even the most classically oriented teams are also familiar with this idea.



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