Opinion: Stop Blaming Consumers For Terrible Ads

The following is a guest contributed post from Daniel Meehan, Founder & CEO at PadSquad

The internet is made for advertisers. Unfortunately, most brands are not taking advantage of this. For example, the majority of ads are still in the same format as they were 10 years ago: squares and rectangles.

It’s no secret that there has been a serious investment on the technological, tactical elements of how ads are delivered (DSPs, SSPs etc…), but this should never come at the expense of the actual creative.

Sure, you need DSPs and SSPs to serve up ads programmatically, and collecting data is imperative to deliver more relevant advertisements. But these elements of the industry’s back-end have now taken center stage. As a result, the idea of advertising — at least, modern advertising — has lost the appeal it once had.

We’re not waxing poetic about the bygone era of Don Draper and Mad Men. The old (10 years ago) emphasis of ads used to be about the actual content and how it resonated with consumers in a meaningful way.

Today’s advertising, which is mainly focused on the infrastructure, is full of bad actors spraying and praying terrible user experiences all over the web. Millennials don’t respond to ads? Maybe it’s not their fault. Perhaps, it’s the product of an ad ecosystem overrun with terrible creative. It’s time to blame the brands for not understanding how consumers want to be communicated with, versus forcing consumers to simply suck down the message, regardless of delivery method.

Programmatic delivery makes things easier for advertisers and publishers, but only if the inventory and formats are easily digested. It was never okay to slingshot banner ads, whether transacted programmatically or not. The same goes for takeover ads and other disruptive formats like full screen interstitials. You can’t blame users for hating their reading/viewing experience being interrupted by full pages of distracting, harmful (to the brand) messes.

Creative work IS advertising. So the process must start there in order to be successful. Then, marry those ads with engaging experiences and innovative formats that appear politely in-line. Once you’ve checked those two boxes, the delivery method can be whatever you choose in order to target the best consumer fit. Programmatic is the means to an end: a successful ad experience for the end-user. Just delivering programmatically is not the end of a brand’s work.

Advertising as we once knew it, is on its deathbed. But it’s not too late to resuscitate an industry that once thrived on challenges beyond the data it collected and the pipes through which ads were delivered. Brands can use ads to embrace their respective stories, their customers, their audiences — and in doing so, be cognizant of how users interact with those ads.

By collecting data from respectful brand creative (versus disruptive, poor advertisements), it’s likely advertisers get more valuable data. And since you’re not pissing off consumers, you’re probably getting more sales out of the deal, too. Isn’t that one of the main goals of advertising anyway?