Friday, January 18, 2013

Advice To Ad Agencies

In order to further transition ITIHAB into "Why Marketers Suck," here's a post containing some advice to them.

This will probably come as a surprise to absolutely no one who knows me in real life given that I'm perpetually broke, but I take market research surveys for money. This fact is also unsurprising to people who found my blog through some random Google search because they don't know or care about me, and it's not particularly surprising as far as facts go; if I had revealed I was secretly an alien, or the Queen, or that I had recently used the Book of Parallels that showed up in my postbox anonymously to retrieve a cure for cancer from an alternate universe, then that would be surprising but that I take market research surveys for money is generally more of a resident of the "meh" territory, like revealing I had a movie about aliens, or that I was a queen, or that I just made up the Book of Parallels and you shouldn't bother googling it because it's not a reference.

I typically can't share any juicy (or gruesome) details about experimental products because of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements and most surveys not actually having any. However, I can share my comments from these surveys because they're, you know, mine.

One survey asked, on its final page, if I had any advice I'd liked to give to ad agencies and the people who make adverts in general. As it turned out, I did have some advice, and so I answered thus:

On balance, an ad is a BAD THING. By definition. If it supports content, then "ad + content" might total out to a positive, but "ad" is ALWAYS negative. Nobody *wants* to see ads, so stop trying to pretend that you can make your ads "better" so people will enjoy them. So basically, telling us that an invasion of privacy is justified because it means you can show "more relevant" ads doesn't just insult our intelligence; it makes you look like some freakish alien that's doing a really poor job of trying to imitate human behaviour.

As for what will make your ads "work" (in the sense of actually driving traffic/sales/etc), I can't help you. My browser has an adblock, and my mind has an adblock as well, so I can't remember ads once I'm no longer looking at them. If a company advertises, I will interpret this to mean that their products are inferior or overpriced since they obviously can't rely on quality or price to drive sales. I have never clicked an online ad unless I was (1) paid to click on it or (2) clicking on it repeatedly because it was offensive and I enjoyed the prospect of making them pay for a dozen-odd clickthroughs for zero conversions. I have responded to direct mail adverts by filling business reply envelopes with various items including (1) rocks, (2) direct mail adverts that didn't come with prepaid reply envelopes, or (3) the lyrics to "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley and mailing them back at advertiser expense. And I don't watch TV so don't think you can advertise at me there either.

Oh, and happy new year and stuff I completely forgot to blog about at the time. Cheers!

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