Saturday, August 18, 2012

Consuming Advertising

As an ordinary person that watches movies, TV, listens to the radio, reads newspapers and hangs out on the Internet, I'm delivered a lot of different advertising. Some of it is effective, a lot of it is not.

When I'm watching advertising on the TV, it is rare for me to actually pay attention to it unless it is actually about an event or something else that I'm interested in but in the age of TiVO and other such devices, advertising is all too often the victim of fast-forwarding, with the exception of the 5 to 10 seconds prior to when the advertising finishes and the TV show begins. Some ads are carefully designed to deliver visuals that convey a readable message even whilst fast-forwarded, some are not. But for the most part, I find TV adverts annoying because they interrupt my consumption of the content being delivered by the television. This has ultimately resulted in "reality" TV shows saying "and the winner is..." - ad break, meaning it is time to get up and exercise or leave the room in disgust at the programming being done by the TV station. Whilst the TV stations may think it is a clever trick, I don't know anyone that looks kindly upon this tactic and I expect that if your ad was the first ad being displayed following that, the chances of the consumer actually being in a receptive state of mind are going to be quite low. Thus it is quite hard for an advertiser to get through to me about general products and in the Internet age, a TV ad alone is not likely to cause me to buy a product.

When I listen to the radio, my goal is generally to listen to music, the football or cricket. Talk-back radio and radio jockeys talking about random topics is not particularly interesting as it is more or less a collection of people with nothing better to do than ring up the radio station and wait to be heard on air. Maybe that's great if you're 75. Not if you're 35. Similarly comedians on the radio can be somewhat boring too and I can't help but wonder if as we grow older as a radio listener, we are able to see through the banter which we once thought was funny and wander off to greener pastures for our ears. When it comes to advertising, It couldn't be more different to TV if it tried. As a person that enjoys listening to music, it is between the hours of roughly 11pm and 5am when radio music content is at its best and adverts are at their fewest. Would that I could TiVO my local FM stations during those 6 hours at night and replay them during the daylight hours. But to drag myself back to the topic at hand, I rarely change radio station because of advertising. I'll change radio station because someone likes the sound of their voice to much or because I've heard that song 5 times today already, but I never walk out of the room when an ad comes on the radio, rather it is more likely that I stay sitting at the desk or table and continue doing whatever it was that I was doing.

Of a morning I read the newspaper headlines over breakfast. This is perhaps the most relaxing way to consume news and current affairs that I know of, save for laying down on the floor/bed and spreading the newspapers out in front of me. In consuming news this way, I can take my time, reread sections that I don't believe at first, ponder what's read and think about it. I don't get 5 seconds to find out about the latest car accident that killed 2 passengers, rather I can take 50 seconds to read and laugh at the Odd Spot on the front page. If there are adverts on the page of a newspaper that look mildly interesting, such as a bank offering a new product for a better return on deposits, there's a good chance that I'll read the fine print and so forth. The ad never gets in the way of the story, even when I have to change page to find the rest of the front page story. Perhaps most importantly, newspapers is the only place I know of where it is common to find out about today's specials or this week's specials, etc. Internet advertising never delivers that. Some newspapers will dedicate the entire back page to advertising for a local store or chain of stores that is running a promotion that day or weekend. On the Internet, the only way to find such information is to directly visit a store's website.

When it comes to Internet advertising, I do my best to block as much of it as I can. The simple reason for this is that ads themselves never have any value to me and are too often distracting and interrupting me. When I access web pages on the Internet, I'm generally looking for content/information. That includes when I use web search engines to search.

I've never deliberately clicked on a facebook ad and never intend to although I occasionally click on one by mistake.  In the first instance, facebook ads are very nicely grouped on the right side of facebook's page, meaning that even if anti-script applications have difficulty in blocking them, I've been able to train my brain to easily exclude paying any attention to that part of the screen. If someone asked me what I thought of facebook ads, I'd probably go "What facebook ads?" Sure, they're there, but they barely get noticed. If anyone is paying to have me see them, they're wasting their money.

To compare with Google, I've disabled the sponsored ads on the right and only click on the sponsored ad for a product if it is the product that I want but in many circumstances, the sponsored ad link from a vendor isn't the one I want as they're usually a general link whereas what I'm seeking is a product specific link

So in summary, for me Internet advertising doesn't work. At all. The Internet is where I go in search of information and I usually have a specific target or focus whilst doing so. Whilst in this state of mind, I'm not going to be receptive to advertising of any sort. My state of mind whilst reading a newspaper is completely different, as it is when watching TV.

I suspect that I'm atypical of the average "heavy Internet user" in various ways but mainly that of sitting down and reading a printed newspaper. When it gets delivered to your door every morning, it is very easy to sit down and read. On a weekend, there's almost nothing better than sitting down on the couch and reading through the paper with a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits.

1 comment:

BK said...

Those are interesting thoughts on how an end user interacts with the ads on different mediums. I wonder if it has to do with the locality and relevance to you?

Your local newspaper has a greater chance of the ad being for something close to your city.

The Radio station example has a greater chance of at least being in your state.

An internet ad could be from any company anywhere.

The more irrelevant ads you are shown, the more likely you are to start ignoring them all as noise.