Programmatic

People who feel like companies are putting their own business goals above their customers’ needs and wants are less likely to be appreciative of or persuaded by advertising. Internet users (many if not most of which are people) are a disparate group, but they do have a few things in common: they want websites to load quickly; they don't want to waste their data; and they don't want their devices to be bricked by malware. The standard practices of the internet advertising industry display a profound disinterest in what internet users want.

The first banner ads (running on Wired’s website in 1994) had a clickthrough rate of around 75%. Today, the average banner ad clickthrough rate is just .08%. That precipitous rate of decline cannot be attributed to adblockers alone. Rather, plummeting clickthrough rates and the rise of adblockers are both symptoms of the same disease: Many ads out there are simply bad. And the people who make, sell and host these should feel bad.

As a result of this ad blockers – add-ons for internet browsers that completely prevent adverts from loading – are becoming increasingly popular and are regarded by many in marketing as an existential threat. Google's announcement that it is set to introduce built-in ad-blocking and filtering to future versions of Chrome (which owns around half of all web users worldwide) strongly indicates the way digital advertising is headed: a greater focus on quality control and relevance. Though Google's development is said to be more of a quality assurance feature, as opposed to a full-on blocker, this move in part could suggest that Google would like to take matters into its own hands, rather than let 3rd parties own this.

The most important thing you can learn from the producers of bad internet adverts is that you need to stop feeling entitled to people’s attention. TV adverts worked this out decades ago. Good TV ads acknowledge that the viewer’s attention is worth something and compensate the viewer by amusing or informing them. The average bad internet ad provides viewers with nothing but the lingering worry that clicking on it might give some hacker complete control over their device, bank account, and Netflix queue.

None of this is to say that the internet is not a powerful tool for advertisers and marketers. Rather, because the internet is such a powerful tool, new approaches are required. Pop-ups and banners ads are not failing because of their content or design – although some definitely do! They are failing because many of them spray and pray with no real added value or consideration for the end-user as anything more than a pile of money with some squawking attached.

There is an obvious solution to these problems. Advertising that lets people choose whether to engage, rather than intruding on whatever they're actually trying to do. Advertising that rewards people by entertaining or informing them. Advertising that barely seems like advertising at all, such as content which addresses concerns or interests your customers might have.

By using your advertising to add value to your customers' lives you can cultivate good will while demonstrating competence. And there's nothing more valuable than a customer that likes you and thinks you're good at what you do.