3 ways to advertise to consumers who hate ads

Consumers just love to hate advertising, the latest study from Forrester Research's principal analyst Jim Nail reveals.

The study, which was conducted between February and March 2017, surveyed 58,000 respondents in US and 6011 respondents in Canada between the ages of 18 and 88 online. While brands may think they can work around the ad-blocking trend simply by choosing channels that are harder to block, consumers' ad apathy is "channel-agnostic".

Not only are consumers less receptive to ads on digital, they are also less dependent on ads for information, as consumers have discovered new ways to research their purchases on digital channels.

Another interesting phenomenon to look at is the fact that those consumers who are most open to engaging with ads are just as likely to block ads (36%) as those who actively avoid ads (35%).

Target the progressive pioneers

table forrester

Dividing customers into five categories, ranking them from those who demonstrate the greatest affinity for advertising to those who show less, the survey suggests marketers should "embrace progressive pioneers' preferences to redeem advertising".

The right move, then, would be to abandon the current model that prioritises product-focused messages blasted out to maximise reach and frequency, and instead, adopt post-digital marketing principles:

1. Be human and show empathy

Marketers must both understand the emotional needs that trigger a purchase, and build an experience that aligns with their emotions during the journey, the survey suggests.

2. Be helpful with personalised experiences

For instance, marketers can adopt content intelligence solutions to optimise content relevance, such as by applying artificial intelligence to learn what content best serves which contexts. According to the study, one major broadcaster that applied content intelligence technology saw a 22.3% average lift in open rates.

Marketers, however, have to bear in mind that progressive pioneers are sensitive to the use of their data, so they should provide data transparency in the form of contextual privacy - a business practice in which the collection and use of personal data is consensual within a mutually agreed upon context, for a mutually agreed upon purpose.

3. Be handy through adaptability.

Marketers should also design their message around the customer life cycle, or embrace omni-channel budgeting to get the best result from each dollar rather than focusing on where each dollar was spent.

The first step of this strategy is to clarify the role each medium plays, and identify consumers' behavioral habits in different media environments. For example, a video campaign must include adaptations where the brand is visible in the first five seconds, and add subtitles so the message is communicated even when sound is off.

While frequency curves from the survey demonstrates that after four or five exposures to a message, effectiveness plateaus, Forrester warns that higher levels of frequency are a waste, or worse, can even damage the brand. Although Cookies and cross-device IDs are yet to be perfect, they could still function as useful tools to enforce frequency caps.