Many years ago there was a public outcry in South Africa about ads interrupting TV programmes. Particularly movies. So vehement was this protest that at the time, M-Net took the decision to never ever allow advertising breaks during films. That decision remains in place for the entire MultiChoice spectrum today.
Now this subject is raising its head again, particularly in terms of YouTube but also with pretty much any online video-based content.
And once again there is an outcry – not only in South Africa this time, but all over the world.
YouTube videos increasingly get interrupted not only once but any number of times, depending on the length, by advertising. Usually not very long ads but still disruptive.
And users are complaining bitterly and more and more consumers are simply quitting the video as soon as an ad comes on.
The thing is this issue is not just about interruptions. It is about damaging brands. Because it is human nature to get irritated with any brand that chooses to barge into something you are watching. Much like that annoying knock on the door by a salesman or beggar while you are watching your favourite programme or sitting down to a meal.
Much like that unsolicited evening phone call you get at home from someone trying to sell you something and not caring too much about invading your privacy.
I would never advise any client of mine to spend money on placing ads in the middle of content on YouTube or any other digital platform. Quite simply because it is a really bad strategy.
… only a few days ago I was watching a particularly emotive rendition of Stairway to Heaven on You Tube when a loud, garish ad for KFC burst onto the screen. It was like walking on an idyllic beach and stepping onto a steaming Great Dane turd.
I have no problem with, for example, YouTube content starting off with advertising particularly if the viewer has the option of skipping the ad after the first five seconds. It is logical that if consumers are not remotely interested in the product being offered, they will skip the ad. However, if it is something of interest they have the option to watch it all the way through. This is precisely the same with newspaper or magazine ads.
The problem today is that the mass media, digital or traditional, are so desperate to generate revenue in a very competitive environment that they will offer very tempting advertising and sponsorship solutions that often have a negative affect on a brand.
So marketers and brand managers need to be aware of the pitfalls in modern marketing solutions offered by anyone within a vested interest.
The situation is such that in South Africa alone an average of 25% of marketing budgets are wasted on strategies and media that offer very little return on investment and can even affect a brand negatively.
It amused me that on YouTube, for example, a notice will pop up saying, “Ad staring in 10 seconds”. What on earth is that supposed to do? Prepare viewers for the shock of being interrupted? Or, give them the chance to bail out before they get interrupted?
Just to add to the problem, very little thought is given to matching advertising to content. For example, only a few days ago I was watching a particularly emotive rendition of Stairway to Heaven on You Tube when a loud, garish ad for KFC burst onto the screen.
It was like walking on an idyllic beach and stepping onto a steaming Great Dane turd.
More and more these days the expression “buyer beware” applies to marketing and the mass media.
Chris Moerdyk (@chrismoerdyk ) is a marketing analyst and advisor and owner of Moerdyk Marketing with many years of experience in marketing and the media as well as serving as non-executive director and chairman of companies.
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