Have you considered that your carefully crafted attention-grabbing advert might not be so attention grabbing after all, and may even turning your audience away? Studies suggest that consumers are exposed to over five thousand individual marketing messages a day and many of these take the form of disruptive pop-ups, auto-play videos and pay-per-click ads. Far from exploiting the power and reach of digital advertising, this information overload is diluting messages and much worse encouraging your target audience to actively avoid advertising.

Blocking and swerving

Consumers have been shown to ignore advert-heavy media channels, a choice which drives almost a third of them away from both marketing messages and the platforms that marketing rests upon. Sadly even newer platforms are subject to poorly designed outbound marketing. Mobile browsing is particularly badly affected and advertising avoidance means that rather than a message getting delivered straight to a customer’s hand, the message is ignored.

The trend reaches its most powerful expression with the rise of the ad-blocker. Frustrated with having their online experience disrupted by invasive advertising, nearly 50% of all consumers are reported to have installed some form of ad blocking software. When advertising avoidance strategies prove ineffective, people are taking the ultimate step and simply turning adverts off completely.

Intelligent platforms like YouTube have recognised the negative effect intrusive advertising has on the user experience, and so offer the ability to skip pre-video adverts that slow down browsing and frustrate viewers.


The power of choice

This trend is not confined to the digital world either. Advertising avoidance stretches to consumers’ relationships with other media too. TV was once a powerful marketing channel with a captive audience, but nowadays even movies and series have become a safe haven for ad-averse consumers.

The run-away success of Netflix is evidence of the broader shift to streaming, and the fact that you can binge-watch an entire series or enjoy a film at home without seeing a single advert is a major incentive to consumers. The implicit trade of advertising for programming no longer applies as it becomes evident that audiences would rather directly subscribe to access their favourite content.

While subscription has been a huge win for digital TV, the results are far more mixed in publishing. Some publishers have tried erecting pay-walls in order to avoid the need for excessive advertising to generate revenue. Paying for a service that was once provided for free is not popular with consumers and has been linked to huge drops in circulation. This was made shockingly clear when The Times launched their pay-wall in 2010 and lost almost 90% of their online readership in four months. Even excellent content suffers when it can’t be delivered conveniently, leaving publishers looking for better alternatives.


Fight back or move forward?

This huge shift in audience behaviour has had a profound impact on the advertising and publishing industries. Some have lashed out, attacking ad-blockers and advertising avoidance in an attempt to protect the old way of doing business.

But this ignores something fundamental. Consumers who are avoiding advertisements are opting out of conversations with brands and services, missing messages that could be perfect for them.

Marketers who fail to recognise the negative effect of undesirable marketing are also opting out of the same conversations, and losing opportunities for positive engagement with their audience. They show themselves to be out of touch with an increasingly smart consumer base, who know what they want to see and happy to inform themselves, spend money and take action to optimise their experience.

The old broadcast model of outbound marketing is increasingly harmful to your ability to promote yourself, and creates relatively few leads for its cost. Smart marketers are forgoing the fight-back, preferring to move forward with better, more cost-effective channels and tactics that build lasting relationships with consumers and generate fantastic returns.

Don’t let yourself be avoided! Instead, take this chance to start a new type of conversation with customers that inspires two way dialogue, value and willing participation from both sides.

Next we look at some positive inbound strategies that will provide you with great customer interactions that will leave everyone smiling.