Can stunning creativity cut-through ad avoidance?
Reports show that Britain’s booming ad industry is set to overtake Germany’s, with total spending predicted to surge by 7.4 per cent this year to £14.3bn. Whilst the real growth area in the UK advertising space is mobile, there can be little doubt that TV remains the behemoth of the ad world. You’ve only go to look at the amount being spent this summer as the World Cup fills our screens to understand the power of these ads, but is TV really as powerful as it used to be?
Consumers are becoming increasingly jaded by what they see as a continuous stream of advertising content. What historically was confined to the hours of 6-10pm, when the nation switched on for an evening’s entertainment, has infiltrated each and every part of our daily lives and consumers are wising up to advertisers’ attempts to compete for their interest. In fact, people are turning away from TV advertising as they take back ownership of their time and attention.
Mobile technology and high quality on-demand video streaming services have given people a choice; if they don’t want to watch a TV ad or simply don’t have time to do so, then there is no need to. In today’s multi-screen households, there is always an alternative to watching an ad. People can go online, choose to fast-forward through the ad break, or even avoid live TV altogether, preferring to catch up with their favourite shows on demand.
As an advertiser, it can be comforting to believe that the answer to this new age of device independence and digital choice is creativity. Many ad agencies assert just that, suggesting that by trying harder and pushing the boundaries of creativity, advertisers’ will somehow be able to win back the hearts and minds of the nation. However, just because you build it, there is no guarantee that the people will come. Even if every single advertiser created an entertaining, creative ad, not all ads would be watched and many fewer engaged with or acted upon.
The belief that content and creativity can combat the issue of ad avoidance lacks realism and an awareness of how people behave in a super-connected world, where every second counts. People now know and understand the true value of their time and attention. They understand that advertisers fund the content they consume, but the internet has created a culture where knowledge is shared freely, so why should people be bombarded with ad messages without getting anything in return?
Some may say that the industry ought to shift more spend online, but ad avoidance is affecting the entire industry, whether it’s TV, online or mobile. Ad blockers are surging in popularity, so the answer cannot be to deploy more spend online, on mobile, or even in-app. What’s needed is the recognition that a new contract is needed between the advertiser and consumer, where the consumer feels they’re getting something in exchange for their precious attention. Otherwise, the finest creativity in the industry will be played out to an audience of few and advertisers will continue to wonder if anyone is really listening.