How do you advertise to those that don’t want to be advertised to?

There are a lot of boring people boringly predicting the end of the world as we know it due to the rise of ad-blockers. Don’t get me wrong, ad-blockers are an issue, but as with all things digital, we need to look at the root of the issue, not the tech implementations.

We in the digital world get far too caught up on the technical pipes and acronyms that help us target the user, however we need to get to the root behavioural cause; people don’t want to be advertised to.

We exist in a world of ad avoidance and the flex comes in the scale of commitment to miss advertising. This can be ad-blocking, TVRs, entering the cinema 5 mins late or just flicking past ads in the paper.

It is true that there are some places where ads vindicate a cultural truths or aspirations. Having Dior and De Beers every other page in Vogue makes it feel premium. Seeing the John Lewis ad online before it launches on broadcast gives you the opportunity to be part of the conversation tomorrow.

It is also true that there are some brands that people actually care about. Personally, the launch of the next Nike World Cup ad is a big deal, something I will make time for. However, if I look at my kitchen and bathroom cupboards, there are no brands that I would give a second thought to if they disappeared. There will always be another toothpaste, another sriracha sauce, another fruit loop.

So how do we advertise to people who don’t want to be advertised if we are not one of the handful of brands people care about?  Yes, right place & right time, however this points to brand monologue and unless we have the stickiest creative and brand truth, it won’t land. Helpfulness has to be the factor you promote. Your brand is there for a purpose and to develop long term relationships you need to have brand integrity. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to be proud of who and what you are and promote this.

When you do this, people won’t run from you, won’t avoid the conversation with you and will even turn into brand ambassadors. Whether this is through excellent content (but please no more ‘recipe ideas’, the world is drowning in branded weekly meal planners) or perfecting the brand experience, people will come to you if you add to their lives.

The best salesmen in your life are not the ones who shout the loudest, or just turn up when you are looking for a conversation, they are the ones who have something interesting for you, something that is helpful to your life. We can always fight the battle of ad-blocking, but if we win the war of brand avoidance, we’re set for life.

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