August 20, 2017

Advertisers and Publishers Forgot About the Human

“I’m not to make any predictions about adblocking, and nor should you, at least not with confidence,” says Ian Lesley, author and brand strategist at the Shift adblocking session. “Ten years ago everyone knew that TV advertising was dead and DVR’s meant that ad skipping was about to become the norm.”

“Skip to 2016, last years spend on interactive TV broke the $5 billion barrier for the first time,” said Lesley. “The question is why didn’t we see this coming or rather why didn’t we see it not coming? Simple, we fixated on the technology and we forgot about the human.”

“TV or print ads don’t take much time,” he said. “They don’t require anyone to think or make a choice or do anything. The cost of ignoring them is zero and when they are good, they are really good. Forgetting about the human is a perennial problem. Five years ago everybody knew that digital data meant that we could send people relevant information instead of this terrible flimflam called brand image. Clever us. Lucky consumers.”

“What’s the reality? Humans care about all sorts of things, but most of them most of the time do not care about brands,” stated Lesley. “I know it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s why the dream of interactivity, engagement and brand conversations has all but died and it’s why people will reach for the ad blockers if the ads continue to be so insanely annoying.”

“Here’s another thing about humans, they make terrible predictions,” commented Lesley. “I’ve almost given up on prediction but not quite. I will predict that unless online advertising changes its form radically in the next five years humans are going to send it the way of interactive TV.”

“The point is that adblocking is an equal and opposite reaction to the brutally bad nature of online advertising,” says Lesley. “This is not a platform that has found its form. There was a moment when TV advertising discovered that you could do stuff with a 30 second ad that was really great and entertaining. People found ways to make that a very rich experience. That hasn’t happened yet with online advertising.”

“The experience of online ads is not pleasant and it actually gets in the way of them enjoying what they want to enjoy,” Lesley said. “So there is a distinct possibility that they will reach for a brutal countermeasure. Unless we get better at doing online advertising, creating things that people enjoy or at least can passively disregard and passively absorb when they want to then I’m afraid the adblockers will march on.”