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Last week, AdAge.com published an article discussing the disgust consumers are developing for the increasing number of ads that are being aired over and over again.
AdAge.com's Brain Steinberg cites an ad that Toyota has flooded the airwaves with that led to the creation of a Facebook group with nearly 9,000 members that is calling for the ad to be killed.
As Steinberg explains, a confluence of factors have come together to create a world in which advertisers are forced to ambush the airwaves - from budget cuts that have lead to the production of fewer commercials to market fragmentation that has lead television networks to throw in additional ad spots as 'make goods' so that advertisers can reach the audiences they once reached far more easily.
According to Kate Sirkin of Starcom MediaVest Group, which is a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, consumers are far more sensitive to multiple showings of the same ad than they once were.
"While it takes only three ads to cause wear-out in print -- about the same as it did 10 to 15 years ago -- a TV ad these days can reach the same point after only eight showings, down from 15 to 20 during the same time period. Consumers are more aware of a greater range of entertainment choices, she said, and are 'all multitasking, less patient, and don't like to have [their] time wasted.'"
This raises an interesting question - is the same thing true in the online environment?
It's a question that I believe warrants further investigation. After all, if consumers tire just as easily of online ads - or perhaps even of the same types of online ads - it has huge implications for both online advertisers and publishers.
From ad blindness to reduced visitor loyalty, the possibility that the pork barrel approach to advertising often seen online could hurt online advertisers and the properties that they advertise on is not something to be dismissed.
If such a dynamic exists online, it means that advertisers may be doing more harm than good to their brands if they're not thoughtful in implementing a balanced advertising strategy. And it also means that publishers who are lazy and look to maximize their ad inventory without any consideration as to how the use of that inventory is received by their audience could be shooting themselves in the foot over the long term.
Of course, there is a contrarian view that's worth noting here.
As Steinberg mentions in his article, some advertisers want to bombard consumers with their messages. They're acutely aware that consumers tire of ads quickly but still believe that they need to hit consumers multiple times with the same message to achieve the optimal results.
To be sure, my personal observation over the years has been that what consumers say and what consumers do are often two very different things and it's certainly very possible (if not likely) that there are consumers who voice displeasure about ads that are shown over and over again but who, unconsciously, are impacted quite effectively by these very ads.
Recognizing that, I certainly wouldn't advise that advertisers (both online and offline) start investing significantly in the production of more and more creative so as to entertain consumers and keep them from getting bored. That's not going to be viable for most advertisers in this economic environment.
At the same time, I do think online advertisers need to be aware that 'ad nausea' is a threat and to mitigate this risk, being selective about the messages you choose to bombard consumers with today is a worthwhile exercise.