What a wonderful time it must have been for advertisers 20 years ago! Advertising was so tightly and unilaterally controlled in terms of its creation, distribution and even consumption. The rising popularity of household brands appeared to be unstoppable.

Consumers all over the country, glued to the TV, had to watch whatever was put in front of them and whatever they read in the newspaper must be right! Right?

There was always the risk for brand damage, but there was also an unlimited supply of ‘channel forgiveness’. In the midst of a crisis, advertisers could just run another campaign, and then another and another.

It was an easier world when second chances were plentiful and advertising interacted with consumers through repetition.

But with the rise of digital, all of this came to an end.

Today, advertising puts consumers in the driving seat and interacts with them through direct engagement.

Now consumers hold control over distribution with likes and shares, creation with memes and parodies. They even have an ever-growing choice of how, when and even if they consume the content.

The amplification effect of social media engagement on a brand’s message can make or break a campaign. No wonder that many continue to chase the unicorn of viral digital fame through comments, thumbs up, hearts, joy and even poo emoji’s.

In this pursuit, brands need to be aware of ‘consumption control’. Both the ‘distribution’ and ‘creation’ of their content is entirely dependent on how people receive or perceive your effort to engage with them.

Not only can a message be badly received, it can also influence if a consumer will choose to see ads in future.

Following the rise of ad-blocking software, Unruly has been able to reveal far more sobering attitudes towards digital ads than advertisers would have hoped for with 81% of people muting ads, 62% annoyed with forced pre-roll and as many as 93% considering ad-blockers.

For brands who have known the heydey of TV advertising, these figures must stir feelings of nostalgia for the times where an ad would be seen by the entire viewership of a channel without question.

However, all is not lost!

The same study lists 8 characteristics of digital video ads linked to high positive impact:

  1. Authentic
  2. Entertaining
  3. Evoke emotion
  4. Personal
  5. Useful
  6. Offer viewer control
  7. Work with sound off
  8. Work in a non-interruptive format

With these principles and behavioural changes in mind, brands can engage with customers through advertising in a genuine manner by embracing consumer choice and transparency.

Yes nowadays, in a digital world, brands are more accountable for their advertising. But that need not be a negative. This can also be the foundation for genuine engagement. Brand have tools available to them to ensure they hit the right notes and sense check their creative is heading the right way.

You can anticipate audience reactions and behaviours with pre-testing solutions which work in-context, such as LinkNow for Digital. With tools like this, digital ‘bloopers’ are unnecessary, and we can meet the customer with engaging and impactful advertising.

Yes the tables have turned and the stakes are higher than ever. No longer at the switch of a remote, pulling an ad from the digital space will leave echoes of evidence for your jury to judge and condemn.

Lets get it right the first time!

Christophe Ovaere

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Christophe Ovaere

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