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An Exposition on the Rat-Race Called Advertising

It’s 2022 and right now the first thing that comes to mind when an ad pops up on my timeline is “Okay, let’s see what this guy has to say” and if I’m not intrigued at first glance (I hardly find any of them intriguing anyway), I scroll past. Other times, the critic in me brings out her savage head. And I’m left wondering why advertising still sucks so much even after the enormous amount of money that goes into it.

Granted, advertising is a core aspect of marketing and there are several success stories accredited to its adoption, for example, McDonald’s took to advertising, to educate their customers about a campaign that expanded their Instagram presence, it proved to be a success more because it brought a fresh perspective and attention to their older products. However, these results are quite tricky and sometimes disappointing when compared to the billions invested in them.

Most times, the cost of creating ads may exceed sales and when these happen, the firms lose profit and are left with no choice but to inflate the prices of the products and this comes back to the consumers. And the cycle goes on and on.

Why does this happen in the first place?

1. We know it’s an Ad

Yeah, we’re smarter than you think. And smart people are not convinced by ads. We’d appreciate a rather honest review and a less formal approach to selling. Something that doesn’t just tell us to buy because it’s really good and we’ll be happy ever after, but something that says, this can do this or that for you but not necessarily this. That way, you may lose prospects but the people who go-ahead to purchase will be doing so because they decided to. In advertising and marketing generally, it’s best you under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.

2. There are too many of you already doing it

There are way more ads than there is an audience to receive them. It’s a never-ending battle for attention and this doesn’t put you guys in the right place. It makes you reliant on us and makes you eager to please. While competition is tough on marketers, consumers find it amusing as a matter of fact; I’ll rather have lots of options to choose from.

3. It’s in our faces!

I dream of a day when I’ll wake up to my email box and instead of seeing a long queue of promotional posts on my inbox and the predictable ‘Hey Grace’ and ‘Best regards’; I’ll see something more personal like… Hold on while I relish the image of you all frozen with your spoons in the air to hear the next thing I’ll say. But that’s your call, not mine. The idea is to be a little bit more honest, and personal, and emotional. And if you can make good use of all these three tips, we wouldn’t mind you being in our faces.

4. You’re manipulating us and that’s disrespectful

We’re actual adults and we know what we want and what we need. Some of us see these ads as you persuading us into thinking we need something when we don’t. And some of these ads are not so subtle with their persuasive tactics.

5. It’s distracting

It’s the 21st century, we’re young and we have so many more fun things to do than clicking on something as boring and obvious as an edited and censored ad. And to be honest, the fancier the ads, the more distracting we find it to be. The average social media user doesn’t spend longer than 3 seconds on a sponsored post and this explains why CTAs are often ignored and conversion rates are poor.

Notwithstanding, advertising when done right is capable of producing positive results. And despite competitions, one can still stand out to become a favourite amongst all. Advertising sucks but its benefits cannot be overridden. The key fact is not to back down but to keep exploring and if possible, adopt new techniques that will place you in a position where you’re the one aiming to impress the customer while at the same time; convincing them about the type of product. As Leo Laporte puts it;

“When information is free, informal and people can easily communicate with each other, the best of us rise to the top”.

Leo Laporte
Swimming With The Sharks