I like, and sometimes even admire, the advertising industry, at its very top end it is entertaining and memorable. Most of it is not, it’s mundane, repetitive and unimaginative. I thoroughly enjoyed John Hegarty’s book and think that he and a lot of his colleagues are very bright, creative thinkers. I have read about David Ogilvy and how he took the US by storm, but he had great talent and would have been a success in any walk of life except, perhaps, as an Amish farmer which he tried, it didn’t work out. I even know about John Wannamaker who coined the phrase, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
But – here’s the thing. I hate being “advertised at”, I mute the TV commercials if I am watching something live. If I ever take part in surveys asking, for instance, about cars that I might consider buying and I am asked if I have been aware of adverts on radio or TV for the new (insert a brand or “marque” here), I almost always say no, then they run the ad and I’ll think “Oh is that what it was for?”
Facebook advertising drives me mad, the oh so clever algorithms that want to show me dentists, dental whitening, dental implants, dental business coaches (!) and so on. Then came the ads from Amazon showing me the last book that I bought, what’s that if not being really stupid with clever systems? Now I have forgotten that I ever had it and was amazed when I logged on through someone else’s machine recently.
This piece from UK business insider points out that web pages load far slower than they ought because of advertising, as someone who has very low bandwidth in my office and suffers like everyone else when travelling (a recent gold star for Edinburgh trams by the way) I am aware of the return to ‘dial-up’ speeds.
So like 14 million other people I have installed Adblock. I’m a member of that demographic that is defined as a “silver surfer” and I know plenty of people who have been delighted to use the internet as it was intended. So am I not the “target” audience? Well, I was introduced to adblocking by my son who is a 22 year old Physics graduate (incidentally he refuses to be tied to either Mac or Windows and only uses open-source software where possible). I gather most of his contemporaries also use an adblocker.
And the advertising industry is worried and asking themselves questions – Campaign.
I have just added a plug in called Ghostery to my browsers – it’s interesting to see what’s watching you. John Naughton as always writes about this and other technical things far better, here’s his column from the weekend where he poses the question about the future of web ads.
So – if you’re a dentist who is just about to spend an unspecified amount of money for Google adwords in the hope that you will appeal to your more discerning potential patients be aware that whilst Google is doing what it can to keep up with the blockers, a significant number of us just see advertising for what it is. You need to work with someone who understands the market, the people, the process and, of course, the pricing – the very good, experienced people won’t be cheap and you will have to recoup that outlay somehow.