Last week my telco provider mailed me an offer aimed at new customers touting services I already have. It was appropriately addressed to me or ‘current resident’ even though I would expect them to know that there’s at least one active account associated with that address. A few days later I logged into my account to check something out and now I’m being followed by banner ads enthusiastically pushing that very same combo of services I already have. I’m sure they’ll be appearing on my mobile next (depending on which combo of adtech & data providers the telco uses it’s just a matter of hours vs days). For the next few weeks the bulk of the ads I see will be split between this telco, the running shoes I bought last week, flights I’ve already booked for a business trip to Los Angeles, and assorted other campaigns sporting various levels of mis-personalization. Some variant of this with a rotating cast of marketing offenders will happen every week.
These are all brands I’m already a customer of -- in some cases in the highest loyalty tiers and with overall high LTV. So why are these brands wasting opportunities to interact in more valuable ways with their (valuable) customers? The answer lies one part in legacy and another in lack of understanding of the effect advertising annoyance has on customer loyalty.
Why are these brands wasting opportunities to interact in more valuable ways with their (valuable) customers?
The legacy part’s explanation is relatively simple: marketing and advertising channels evolved independently of one another and have historically been approached in a very siloed way with separate budgets, goals, and internal staff. This worked great for a while until smartphones came along and blurred the lines between what type of content gets consumed when and where. If I watch the ad you aired during the Superbowl on YouTube on my mobile because someone retweeted it how should that view be counted?
The other part, the lack of understanding of effects of advertising annoyance, is trickier to quantify but a long-term challenge. At the root of it is the mismatch between the level of personalization in everyday ads and what consumers have come to expect from the companies they’re in business with. While only industry insiders might pick up on auto ads being tailored to their demographic, all frequent fliers will groan when they see an ad to sign up for frequent flier status on the airline they fly with 100,000+ miles a year.
Consumers have a frequency cap across all the individual interactions they have with your brand.
In many ways better personalization and tailoring of message is directly behind the increasing appeal of walled gardens. Being able to control very granularly who sees what, adjust subsequent actions, and understand what’s resonating is achievable on a single platform. This should be the standard advertisers aspire to across the board - because consumers have a frequency cap across all the individual interactions they have with your brand (some of which may be completely outside the realm of marketing).
Advertising annoyance is difficult to quantify as a marketer yet easy to intuitively understand as a consumer.
What could counter advertising annoyance? Let’s dig in deeper into the airline example: I’ve already bought the flight, and given my frequent flyer status it’s likely that I’ll buy another one from them soon. Have I given them any indication of where that next flight may be to? Is there anything in my search history on their site that they can use, or even leverage nostalgia and look at where I traveled to this time last year coupled with a targeted discount or perk that would get me to book another flight immediately? Barring those, what about partner offers for my LA trip: hotels, restaurants, other service providers, etc? I’ve already spent the money on the ticket; how else can they maximize revenue lift from that trip and that interaction with their customer? All of these are data points that my airline already has and fairly typical cross-promotion deals with other brands - but they may not all be readily available to activate in all relevant channels. This is a failure of strategy because the technology to make this happen is there. The biggest hurdle may perhaps be how easy and inexpensive it is to continue to serve non-personalized ads. For a few cents CPM it’s less hassle to stick with the current status quo.
Advertising annoyance is difficult to quantify as a marketer yet easy to intuitively understand as a consumer. Sacrificing storytelling and that right place, right time, right message concept that’s so frequently quoted on stage at advertising conferences seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul: shortsighted, and harmful to the relationship between advertiser and consumer.