4 Digital Advertising Mistakes You Might Be Making

4 Digital Advertising Mistakes You Might Be Making

Imagine you are out to dinner with a friend talking about some home improvement projects on your list. Suddenly, a man at the next table leans over in your direction.

“Hi there! I happened to overhear that you’re looking for some ways to fix your garage door. Don’t worry about fixing your garage door. Just buy a new one! I’m Gary Garish and I sell garages. Check out my website and buy yourself a new garage today!”

You look at your friend in disbelief.

“Thanks, Gary. But we’re actually having a private conversation. And I’m not having any problems with my garage door. I’m having problems with my front door. But thanks anyway.”

You roll your eyes and turn back to your meal.

“Wow,” says your friend, Felicia Frank, shaking her head. “So anyway, thanks for agreeing to come to dinner with me. Your plans for your front door don’t sound like they would be that difficult to manufacture. My staff at Felicia’s Front Doors should be able to help you out. Show them my business card when you go in and they’ll comp the consultation.”

“That Felicia is a nice lady,” you think to yourself. “I was a little surprised when she first asked me to dinner, since we don’t know each other that well, but I’m glad I came.”


Who blew it?

Gary and his bald-faced interruption.

Who nailed it?

Felicia and her well-timed pitch.

Here’s why.

People don’t want to be interrupted. They want to be intrigued. Publishers mistakenly believe they have an unspoken agreement with consumers, providing free content in return for ad views. But more and more consumers are rejecting that agreement by ignoring the ads or even installing ad blocking software. If we want people to have positive associations with our brands and buy what we’re selling, it’s time to start thinking about their needs first and avoid some simple mistakes.

Mistake #1: Pop-Up Ads

They pop up to block some (or all) of the webpage, usually as the site begins to load. Consumers commonly cite this as the most annoying type of ad.


Mistake #2: Loud Ads

You click on a link and all of a sudden your phone starts playing music in the middle of your quiet office space. Not cool. Music and the spoken word play an important role in many good ads, just make sure your viewer is ready to hear it.


Mistake #3: Splash Ads

Whether they are presititial (displaying before the page loads) or interstitial (displaying between two content pages), splash ads block the content the consumer is looking for, rather than complement it. Minus another ten points from Gryffindor if they include a countdown you have to wait out before exiting the ad.


Mistake #4: Sticky Ads

These are large ads that stick to the bottom of the page while you scroll, covering up at least 30% of the screen. It’s like being the short kid at a concert – you can’t see what you came for and there’s just no way around it.


So what ad format do people like?

While there’s no silver bullet, we have seen some compelling research on what viewers prefer: rewards and payoffs. Felicia took us out to dinner and entertained us. Gary just delayed us from eating our meal. Rewards and payoffs make the consumer more likely to listen to your message.

Advertising Research Foundation. Chart: Axios

Advertising Research Foundation. Chart: Axios

A study by Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia at the Advertising Research Foundation found that people respond best when they get some kind of access or payment for sitting through an ad. They are more likely to remember the brand and associate it with a positive feeling.

Moral of the story

You can buy “impressions” but you know what you can’t buy? Goodwill. In our 33 years of experience in the industry, people shout louder when they don’t have much to say. That’s why we believe the message outweighs the method. When you’re speaking your audience’s language, you won’t have to yell.

One last thing

Be a Felicia. And please, for the sake of your business, don’t be a Gary.

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