A new YouGov survey into the attitudes of consumers to digital advertising
has revealed some alarming trends around how the explosion of digital marketing
has jaded many consumers, and hinted that a shift in approach may be required by
Marketing Tech contributor Marco Veremis is president at
UpStream, the digital response specialist that commissioned
the research, and a front runner in mobile and digital advertising for over a
decade. Speaking to him at the Mobile World Congress recently, we questioned him about the
interesting and alarming shift that's taken place over the last five years as
the numbers of digital ads being served every year rocketed from 150bn in 1996,
to a staggering five trillion today.
The effect, as one might expect, has been general desensitisation and a
decline in response rates. This is the worrying part,says Veremis.
Response used to be a healthy 7%, but today it's below 0.1%. And the
reaction of advertisers over the last five years has been, "well, my response
rates are declining, let's do more, more, more"
But more, more, more can be a risky strategy; not just because of the general
apathy and ad-blindness it lays on the average consumer. As fast as response
rates are declining, the number of consumers staying with a brand and not
actively opting out of communications is on the decline also.
Perhaps more worryingly, disgruntled consumers have the power to wreak havoc
and brand damage like never before. "If you asked asked people 40 years ago whether
they were getting too much advertising, the answer may well have been the same
as today, says Veremis. ,But today they have the ability to go online and be
vocally negative about that brand. So the negative impact is there, there is
such a thing as negative brand awareness.
On the face of it, running less advertising in a more targeted way would seem
the logical solution. A lot of companies have caught wind of this, but many
have fallen into another pitfall, personal data, says Veremis. How are you
It's a pitfall elegantly demonstrated by the oft-cited case of the US teenage
girl, secretly searching Google for abortion information, whose family then
learns of her pregnancy through targeted pregnancy ads.
On the one hand you've got invasion of privacy, trying to be more targeted
and advertising less, says Veremis. On the other hand you've got massive
volume. Whereas the middle ground?
The interesting thing here is that none of these are traditional marketing
segmentation metrics that companies use.
Privacy has become more of an issue as people become more protective and
more vocal when it is violated, concludes Veremis. Targeting criteria should
change; one should look for the types of data that are perceived to be
However when you use interactive communication, properly executed, all your marketing becomes
totally unobtrusive and, at the same time, totally effective and accountable.