Consumers See the Advertising, but Where is the Connection?

December 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

Our company, Burst Media, has just released a research study showing that consumers are very much aware of advertising that seems to follow them around online based on their media behaviors. Reporting on the research in its Online Media Daily newsletter, Media Post noted that over 78% of online users are conscious of advertising that appears “tailored to them based on previous visits to other sites”, and a large portion of those people – 34% – don’t like it. The rest are divided between don’t know/don’t care (38%) and, sure, seems like a good idea (27%).

The important number is the 78%. It confirms that online users get the fact that advertisers are tagging them for follow-up. It’s not a secret. They notice the ad messages protruding into their world and they step around them, as they are experienced at doing. It’s life. Everywhere you go, advertising seems to follow. What are you going to do? Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. Most times, the survey says, who cares?

Welcome to another generation of consumers inured to commercial messaging. How could this happen in an age of extreme media engagement?

Kirk McDonald, President of Digital Time Inc., reportedly offered one answer to that question in remarks he made to attendees of the iMedia Agency Summit going on in Phoenix, Arizona. iMedia described it this way in their report:

Consumers use content to make connections. That fact, according to [Kirk] McDonald, is the most critical piece of the marketing industry today. In front of a slide depicting people whose faces had been replaced with a bull’s-eye, he stated, “We’ve been getting off track — we’ve been turning consumers’ hopes, dreams, and personalities into algorithms. It’s not about the equation — it’s about the experience of consuming it.”

In today’s media economy, which offers boundless opportunities to reach consumers when they are “consuming it,” the only rational reason for not leveraging the value of it – the content – is price. But, indeed, price is such a driver of advertising decision-making at every level today that the new media opportunity – the chance to reach your best customers when they are most pre-disposed to what you have to sell – has been shanghaied. It is cheaper to buy consumer connections as remainder stock – as factory outlet inventory.

(You can sense the irony of that as it relates to the brand marketing world.)

iMedia described the close to Kirk McDonalds address this way::

Substituting “marketer” for “journalist,” McDonald closed the keynote with a quote from Time Inc. founder Henry Luce: “I became a marketer to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”

Looking out at the audience, McDonald reminded us one last time that the most exciting thing about all of this is the people.

Actually, the only thing about all of this is the people. The most exciting thing should be about the connections. Instead, for a majority it’s simply “Oh look, more advertising.”

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