Digital advertising has become crazy. There, we said it.

Barely a minute can pass without being bombarded with some image, obstructive ad or, worst of all, those five second clips on YouTube. Actually, scratch that. Those YouTube ads were the worst, but they’ve since been dethroned by the un-skippable Facebook ones. Urgh, digital advertising. Just. Urgh.

If done wrong, digital advertising can destroy your brand.

You know the feeling. You’re in the shower enjoying your awesome YouTube playlist when suddenly you’re interrupted by a promotion. Skip ad in 5 seconds, it says. Problem is your phone is 3 meters away, you have soap in your eyes and you’re not in the mood to drop water all over your bathroom floor. So now you’re trapped in the Ad-pocalypse, forced to hear about online retail solutions for your business.

This happens more often than you’d think.

Digital advertising is rapidly becoming more forceful, more intrusive and more invasive. But that’s not according to us- that’s according to the internet. However, opinions without facts are like sandwiches without filling. And as much as we love bread, we’re in the business of knowing our business. So before we proceed, let’s talk statistics…

  • 83% of consumers agree with the statement “not all ads are bad, but I want to filter out the obnoxious ones”
  • 91% of consumers believe that ads today are more intrusive than 3 years ago
  • 79% feel like they’re being “stalked” or targeted by personalised ads.

It gets more interesting when you look at the insights.

  • 82% of people report actually leaving a page because of auto playing video ads
  • 56% of consumers agree that “most online ads are insulting to my intelligence”
  • 89% find ads that obscure content or require effort to remove them off putting.
  • And, lastly, 79% turn away from brands online because they feel invaded.

Interesting? We think so.

It took a while, but people eventually wised up to the power of digital advertising. And make no mistake, it has its uses. However, if unmoderated it can be a waste of time, resources and effort- and in the process taint your brand image. Once you go viral for the wrong reasons, you have a serious problem. And the reality is that nobody, not even 9gag themselves, knows what triggers virality.

The beauty of most internet sensations is their ability to gain traction completely organically. That’s why the best ads shouldn’t be forced.

So where do we draw the line?

Despite everything that’s been said, there’s a reason digital advertising has become so immensely popular. Many a consumer has been directed to the perfect product via a thoughtful, relevant and well-placed ad. Look at Superbalist, Amazon and Takealot, who’ve structured their entire marketing model around going digital.

It works, provided it’s done right.

As for those annoying pop-up ads? Try a 73% disapproval rating.

Our first piece of advice is a simple one: don’t force people to engage with your content. Society hates being told what to do. More so, they hate being interrupted. Non-skippable digital advertising is by far the most despised form of advertising in general- mainly because they’re intrusive. So, while YouTube looks exciting with the billions of users and millions of potential views, be careful. You can always make a good impression later, but it’s very hard to recover from a bad first one.

Do not, we repeat, do not trick people into clicking on your ads.

Even seen a “Click X to remove”, pressed it with full intention of resuming your research, and somehow found your entire page redirecting? How did you feel? Exactly. It looks great on paper to have a high click and interaction ratio, while increased web traffic is enough for some. However, tricking people is a surefire way to upset them. Remember that getting customers to your page is only half the battle- they still need to make purchases once they’re there.

Ask yourself: would I do this in person?

Picture this: a customer is in your store browsing footwear. Do you

  1. Follow him around the store waving different products at him?
  2. Stand next to him with a sign saying, “pick me”?
  3. Redirect him to the t-shirt section?
  4. Tail and remind him to buy a sneaker he can’t afford?

The answer? None of the above. What would you actually do? Provide relevant information (did you know we’re on sale?), let him know you have different colours or maybe, just maybe, give him some information about your brand. But only if he’s indicated interest.

Why should digital advertising be any different? You’re dealing with consumers either way.

Here’s the thing…

Successful digital advertising is not invasive. It doesn’t interrupt the average browsing experience. It’s relevant to its audience, unobtrusive, just makes sense, and looks good. Digital advertising is easy to navigate. If it says “click here”, it works. And it certainly doesn’t talk down to its customers, nor does it force them to pay attention.

The most important thing, however, is that it gives people choice.

Play the video or close the pop-up. People want to act consistently with prior choices. When they actively choose to opt in, rather than do so because they’re obligated, is when those clicks will turn into purchases

The secret is NOT to advertise, advertise, advertise. The beauty lies in subtlety. Say more, do less, be less of a pain and more of a convenience. It’s a fine line, but it’s not impossible.

Speak to us if you’d like to know how to best digitally advertise for your business.