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Think High Cost of “Nonvertising”

The wasteful spending built into traditional advertising now includes online advertising as well. As much as half of online and offline budgets are money down the drain. Much of what is called advertising would be more correctly called “Nonvertising.”

One thing remains the same in a dramatically transformed business scene. “Nonvertising” is as prevalent in the digital era as it was in the analog era.

Update Posted July 18, 2016

#PrimeDay Fail: Steals the Show

The online behemoth that aims to make shopping as easy as breathing messed up on PrimeDay 2016. As reported in the Washington Post, many shoppers came up empty-handed and frustrated. “Social media was brimming with messages from steamed customers who couldn’t get the goods they wanted.”

After weeks of advertising hype (paid and unpaid) about how great the event would be, some Prime members believed that Amazon wasn’t offering its best stuff. One posting on Twitter summed it up this way: “Prime Day is not Black Friday in July. It is April Fools Day in July.”

The failure to satisfy so may customers turned the advertising leading up to PrimeDay retrospectively into a form of “Nonvertising.” Any marketer – even the Amazon goliath – that promotes an exciting experience and then falls short deserves an angry response to the non-performing build-up.

With so much invested in expanding Amazon’s “Share of Life” with Prime members, you would expect better from the pacesetter in customer entanglement. Totally out of character was the defensive posture taken by the company’s spokesperson in responding to the outpouring of criticism.

No matter how high the reported sales volume, PrimeDay 2016 was not a good day for one of America’s foremost brands.

Update Posted April 18, 2016

AT&T & Nonvertising Agility

The latest example of the waste of good money poured into bad advertising is taking place right now on a grand scale thanks to AT&T. You may have seen the ads on the back page of newspapers and prominently placed elsewhere.

The barrage of advertising is meant to support the newly proclaimed brand positioning. AT&T wants you to know it is the place to turn for keeping operations going reliably in the face of shifting demand.

Nothing wrong with the agility positioning. Plenty wrong with what is best described as costly “Nonvertising” meant to spread the word about it.

The creative confusion gets off to a “good” start with the headline reading “Now is the time for agility. Now is the time for & (the & symbol is barely readable in the night scene below the headline.) Whether visible or not, the headline does nothing to promise a unique benefit. Why would anyone bother to read the 4 lines of body copy set in a miniscule point size at the bottom of the page?

If they did, there is no compelling reason given to visit the website. The ad is a brand advertising failure and an abysmal flop as a direct response bridge to the AT&T website devoted to “the power of &.”

Just think of all the ways AT&T could use those lost Nonvertising dollars to entangle the brand and the business customer in a supportive experience.

Update Posted March 31, 2016

“How Bad Are These Bad Ads”

One of the downsides in the unrelenting advance in digital technology has been the ability to offer a bewildering range of ad designs that go far beyond flashing banner ads and static pop-ups. The result is what drives so many people to turn off the assault of intrusive “Nonvertising” formats.

The U.S. yearly growth of digital ad-blockers is almost 50%.

Sydney Ember in the NY Times has written a devastating attack on the barrage consumers now contend with online. He asks: “How bad are these bad ads?” His answer is: “Bad, bad , they all are bad.” What follows is a digest of his laughable take on “the baddest of the bad.”

The Fickle Floater Pop-Up Ad
Oh, were you reading that? The Fickle Floater does not care. These pop-up ads open in the middle of the page, blocking text like rain clouds in an otherwise clear sky. The X button is so tiny that successfully hitting it requires not a small bit of luck. The worst kind of Fickle Floater is without any X at all.

The Belligerent Blockade Full-Page Takeover
This is the Fickle Floater’s evil cousin. The Belligerent Blockade appears out of nowhere and takes over the entire page, obscuring anything and everything you were viewing. Don’t even think about looking for an X. These ads will eventually disappear by themselves. Do not lose hope!

The Brash Bulldozer Expanding Banner
At first this looks like a normal banner ad sitting innocently at the top. Don’t be fooled. The ad expands and pushes the text down until the intruder stretches over half the page. For a truly bad experience it can merge with the Vexing Video.

The Vexing Video Autoplaying Ad
Whence the sound? The Vexing Video runs somewhere on the page and is nearly impossible to locate. These ads start playing with the sound on once the page loads and require Sherlock Holmes-like sleuthing to find and mute. Mostly it is better to close the page than try to silence the soundtrack.

The Adamant Anchor Adhering Banner
The Adamant Anchor sticks itself to the bottom of the mobile screen and does not budge. These ads resemble the banner ads of the earlier web but they are perhaps more annoying, because they are smaller than their desktop brethren. The X, if there is one, is miniscule.

You can thank Sidney Ember for a glimpse of what is only going to get worse.

Publishers and mobile developers are on a format inventing rampage. Without any regard for the ultimate effect, they grab attention for the advertising over what a person clicked to find on the desk top or mobile device. The delete X button becomes less and less visible. All of which turns off more and more people and sends the adoption of ad blockers through the roof.

Next time you play a part in choosing an online ad format, think twice about whether you want your brand adding to the “Nonvertising” clutter rather than delivering an interactive message to the targeted person in a sensible way.

Update Posted March 29, 2016

Cadillac Takes a 180 Degree Turn

One of the book’s “Nonvertising” examples was a Cadillac ad run in Fast Company magazine. The headline was a quote from Abigail Adams: “A Calm Is Not Desirable in any Situation in Life.” Hardly what is needed to connect with a luxury car buyer.

We gave the ad the highest possible “Nonvertising” score. Bewildering headline. No visible copy encouraging magazine readers to learn more. No call to action. No reason given to visit a Cadillac website despite the fact that 80% of car purchase decisions are made online. Cadillac’s disconnect was a total waste of precious advertising dollars.

The good news is that a barrage of Cadillac online display ads now make a 180 degree turn for the better. Cadillac is taking a bolder point of view in shaping its future

The campaign does everything the ad in Fast Company failed to do. The headlines reflect Cadillac’s new “Daring Greatly” brand positioning. Click on the ad and you visit where you and the brand are entangled in memorable experiences.

You can create a colorful collage that mirrors what inspires you most. Complete the collage and go on to explore the daring engineering of the reinvented Cadillac CT6.

The website features fascinating stories of individuals who dare to drive the world forward. A typical posting is about the achievement of a17 year old wearable tech innovator improving the safety of those suffering from dementia.

The “Dare Greatly” message gets personal when you are asked: “What will you dare to do? Tell us below”. Cadillac goes beyond what is found at the usual automotive website. Starting with the campaign’s direct response ads, the aim is to build emotional entanglement by sharing a passionate focus on daring to be great.

In the Internet era, the best advertising takes the potential buyer by the hand and never let’s go until a lasting, value-added relationship is formed.


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