May 2016

Look up from your mobile phone for a moment. When was the last time you clicked on a sponsored link or banner ad? Be honest. I'm guessing not very often.

On your desktop, it's pretty much the same thing, right? You see lots of paid ads and social postings on sites you spend time on, but I'm guessing you avoid sponsored content as an intrusion. And I’m in the advertising business!

That's my point.

The media landscape is littered with paid ads, from pre-roll video to pop-up ads to brand-supported Facebook postings, and many users can't wait to "x" them out or scroll past them…at least that is my perception. Assuming that's the case, there are a few questions that should be addressed if ad dollars are going to continue to flow online. In other words, if we can’t figure out some solutions, clients will be saying “so what if your site, app or YouTube channel is more popular than the nightly news? If consumers are running from these unwanted ads, then you're wasting my money advertising on them.”

Billions of dollars flow from traditional media to digital media each year, and in my opinion much of it lacks effectiveness and accountability. That's not a shocker (well, it actually is, but I believe the media properties and advertisers are still experimenting with each other). What's needed are some back-to-basics tactics to prove (or not) the efficacy of the digital advertising landscape.

As an agency CEO, I cannot control the speed with which proper analytics will be applied. However, I do believe agencies large and small can make a difference, and at 78MADISON we work hard daily to do so. Here are a few ways we are trying to make digital ads and content more effective:

GET THE MESSAGE RIGHT. Do you want to raise the odds of your clients' ads getting attention? Spend more time getting the message right, which means going deeper to understand the media consumption habits of the target user. A message on Snapchat will be received much differently than one on a Google search. Yet, many of the same digital ads are spread across various platforms. Takes more effort, but the results will be worth it.

TRY TO MOVE FROM MEDIOCRE TO GREAT. It's not a good excuse to say “there’s just not enough space to work with”. Do you make the same comment for outdoor boards, where some of the best creative concepts live? Great advertising gets noticed, wherever it is. As well, remember that no one is waiting to see your ad, so make the disruption worth it.

SUPPORT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA. Brands large and small often see social media as a low/no-cost way to promote. Mark Zuckerberg figured that out and now company-sponsored postings on Facebook that are not funded reach, maybe, 1% of a company's followers. Did you get that? 1%. That's why Facebook recently reported earning a billion dollar profit in one quarter. In my experience, brands need to set aside funds for their social media efforts just as they would for their paid ads. It's all blending. And where social media is both free and has critical reach, agencies need to work as hard to create memorable content just as they would with advertising campaigns. It's kind of obvious -- there is simply so much more media to consume that it's going to take some great thinking to awaken bleary eyes to your postings.

I trust that digital ads/content will become better, more trackable and effective over time. It's the responsibility of agencies, advertisers and the media to ensure that it happens. Until then, the waste will continue.


Joe Bouch
A full service marketing communications firm and advertising agency in Altamonte Springs (Orlando) Florida