Changing The Online Ad Game

Online advertising is in desperate need of a shake-up. Here’s why, and here’s how.

This week, AdBlock Plus reached a record 100 million users.

What this tells us is that people hate ads – and if they’re able to block them, they will.

One free download, and like magic, your browsing experience is (enhanced) rid of the many forms of online advertising.

In 1963, John Kennedy Toole wrote A Confederacy of Dunces. But the book wouldn’t get published until 1980.

Publishers refused to publish it because it lacked meaning and wasn’t really about anything.

It didn’t follow conventional storytelling and novel-writing.

For years he tried editing to the book based on publisher recommendations to no avail. In 1969, he committed suicide.

When the book did get published, it won awards of the highest calibre.

I have this book, and it reminds me a little of the online advertising problem. It was recommended to me by Tucker Max, who reminds me a little of the solution.

Now let’s get something straight: I don’t condone ad-blocking. I know too well that bloggers, journalists and content writers are the ones affected by them.

But online ads are problematic. They disrupt; they’re pushy.

At times, they hinder browsing experiences. And at most, they’re completely irrelevant.

They appear in an environment where customers are looking to interact with stuff. Where people don’t generally stay around for long.

We know this because our customers engage with interactive features on websites. We browse ourselves in this way.

The problem then lies in the fact that ads – for the most part – do not stimulate interaction of any kind.

And even if they do, customers won’t interact with it because they know it’s advertising.

Two years ago I listed 5 of my greatest TV ads of all time.

This personal list consisted of Sony, John West, Guinness, Coca-Cola and Cadbury.

Though, it’s a strange list. It’s a list of ads that weren’t built like ads.

I liked the “Balls” ad but never bought a Sony Bravia. I liked the “Surfer” ad, but have never in my life bought a pint of Guinness. And as for Cadbury, the “Gorilla” ad was great. Yet I much prefer Galaxy as a chocolate even though I hate the Audrey Hepburn Galaxy ad.

See, a strange list of “greatest” ads.

But these are ads that broke the rules.

Ads and other forms of disruption marketing should be there to aid the rest of your marketing messages. Your overall strategy.

But if done properly, they can be the trigger for that buying decision (or a buying decision of some sort).

A lot of advertising doesn’t work that way. Because clients of advertising agencies want direct results.

It’s the same in digital and with online ads.

Another problem with most ads is they appeal to people like customers. They should be appealing to people like people.

Which is why online advertising is a shambles.

John Kennedy Toole wrote a novel like no one had seen before. In the early days, it wasn’t even considered worthy of being a novel.

He produced something that was truly unique that when reached its audience, made a big impact.

It was a gamechanger in popular literature.

Advertising, and marketing for that respect, need creative thinkers like this. Ones that create trouble.

Like Tucker Max.

Troublemakers can combat things like ad-blocking.

Troublemakers can give you the edge over the competition. They can change the game.

No matter where ads are placed online, eventually, people will find ways of ridding their browsing experiences of them. This includes native ads.

So think differently about online advertising. Your “ads” may get consumed in ways you thought weren’t possible – just like those TV ads. Shake things up.

And if you read A Confederacy of Dunces, you’ll know what I mean.

Then there won’t be a need for ad-blockers.

What do you think?

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