Watching Twitch, a sponsored ad came up for Soylent. Little problem, I only caught the last fraction of a second because I was tabbed out and there isn’t any voice, only text, so I only happened to be curious what the peppy music was about. I’m not sure what the intersection is between ads and the users who do listen-only but if it’s significant that could be a problem. Still, neat!
You caught our Soylent is better advertisements.
Speaking as someone who has worked in the field of digital advertising for over 10 years full time now, I can tell you that this is an absolutely massive problem that advertisers don’t seem to understand/realize. I always shake my head in disbelief when my other half for example, plays a Youtube playlist all day long without even once looking at any of the ads or paying any attention to them. At most maybe she hears the audio of one here or there, but that’s it. Multiply her by millions of people who do the same thing regularly, and the advertising industry is fleecing advertisers left, right, and sideways.
It’s especially sad when it’s small companies that I know don’t have huge marketing budgets. They are wasting whatever money they do have for advertising, and probably have no idea. Sites like Youtube (and FB, and Google, and everyone basically) will report as if you actually reached people, but it’s total BS.
Online advertising can work, but it’s horrendously inefficient and is worth only a fraction of what people are generally paying - with the exception of those few who really know how to reach their target market with certainty.
So that was a bit of a tangent… . I’m gonna go have some Soylent now.
I’ve even known people who pay no attention to ads on TV. Shocking.
However, seriously, even a tiny glance is worth a lot to advertisers. Companies see their sales increase.
I have yet to speak to anyone who advertises online (not counting affiliate or indie digital product marketers since they often DO have solid data on their entire conversion funnel) who can actually quantify the exact ROI on their advertising dollars. I’ve spoken to a lot of small business owners (and some not-so-small) who think their online advertising spend is a good investment, but if pressed… they actually don’t know. Online attention spans are very, very short and the industry is still figuring out what actually works. Video advertising in particular is often a black hole from which no profit can ever escape, especially for larger brands that use an agency to handle their advertising spend. I’ve known of many arbitrageurs who make an absolute fortune arbing video ads and the advertisers have no clue. It’s a parallel to high frequency trading in the finance world, except it’s not also helping the industry as a whole by providing liquidity and accelerating executions. And not many people even know it exists.
Anyhoo… just glad Soylent is still around and sending us food every month. Now where’s that promised vanilla??
I see Soylent ads on Facebook all the time, and of course half the comments are “it’s people, haha I’m so smart”
Here is my experience with online ads, especially YouTube:
If they are skipable, most people skip them as soon as it is available to do so.
If they have obnoxious audio, people will mute them.
If they are boring, people will find something else to do (also happens with TV, when people channel surf during ads).
Here are major mistakes advertisers make with online ads:
The biggest mistake is taking too long to introduce the product. Many YouTube ads, especially ones longer than a few seconds, allow the viewer to skip them, after 5 seconds. For a while, I made a point of studiously watching ads, right up until I could skip them, to give advertisers that 5 seconds just to tell me who they were, but a vast majority failed. They wasted their chance, often by trying to have witty lead ins or give some back story before introducing themselves. That might have worked on TV, but it does not work on the internet.
Obnoxious audio is another serious mistake. Yes, being obnoxious can make an ad memorable, as TV car dealerships advertisers used to do a lot. On computers with mute buttons though, it just shuts down your potential viewers. Obnoxiously loud ads on random web pages has conditioned many internet users to be able to hit mute really fast when an obnoxious ad appears. You get someone yelling, talking too fast, talking too forcefully, or anything else that people don’t want to subject themselves and everyone else around to, you won’t even have 5 seconds to influence your viewers. Modern viewers have far more control over their consumption of ads. If advertisers won’t treat viewers respectfully, viewers will find ways to avoid consuming their ads.
The third major mistake is assuming people are going to sit there, eyes glued to the screen, while ads play. Not even everyone did this with TV, when ads were often still more entertaining than the alternatives. Now, everything is vying for our attention. The bar is incredibly high to keep ads entertaining enough to keep users watching. Very few advertisers have the resources, knowledge, or skill to make ads that good. What they can do is take advantage of what they have. The best way to make an unimpactful ad is ignore one of the senses. It sounds like this is where the Soylent ad failed. While obnoxious audio is a big no-no, not using the audio to advertise at all is a waste of opportunity and advertising budget. Just like TV, when unskippable ads come up in online media content, people with go do something else, which usually covers up the ad. If the audio is not totally annoying, they will keep listening though, so they will know when the ad is over. Advertisers can take advantage of this by making the audio an intergral part of the ad, as well as making it so that it can stand on its own. Don’t make it obnoxious, but don’t forget to at least mention your product in the audio as well as the visual part of the ad. If you just play soft music during the ad (or even exciting music), you are wasting half of the media space that you paid for, and you are missing a substantial percentage of your potential audience.
One other pet peeve I have with advertisers are ads that are so offensive that they make me actively avoid buying the product advertised. These are not generally culturally offensive things, like racism, foul language, or obscene content, because advertisers are pretty sensitive about these things. When an ad insults my intelligence though, I find it offensive. When an add is excessively obnoxious, I also find it offensive. When an ad disrespects my time, I am offended as well. When this happens, I go out of my way to not buy products from that company, at least for several months, and seeing their product invokes negative feelings, making them less desirable to me than competitors products for some time after that. There is this saying in media that any publicity is good publicity, and there might be cases where that is true, but not when it comes to bad advertising. For example, during the chihuahua Taco Bell ad campaign, Taco Bell food was just not that appealing to me, because I associated it with an obnoxious animal and ads that insulted my intelligence.
Anyhow, I would not put the blame for this on user. It is not a problem that users don’t watch the ads. If people can’t believe that people watch YouTube all day without ever paying attention to the ads, then they clearly do not understand human nature and are even totally unfamiliar with how people used to interact with television ads. If advertisers want ads to work it is their responsibility to figure out what will work. It is not the responsibility of people to stop what they are doing to watch ads that are obnoxious, boring, slow, or offensive, just because advertisers want them to. Yeah, the bar is higher. Advertisers will either raise their quality, or they will fail. That’s how business works, and in a world where the bar is rapidly raising for all industries, as the internet is allowing for fiercer and fiercer competition, it shows a distinct lack of competence when businesses complain instead of realizing this and raising their standards.
If modern internet media advertisers want to be successful, they need to adapt to the media and its users. Most could make a huge improvement just by respectfully introducing themselves and their products both visually and in the audio within the first 5 seconds of the ad. If they want people to watch the ad for longer than that, then they also need to include something that motivates users to want to watch the rest, during those first 5 seconds, while still maintaining the respect for their viewer.
As far as whether it is worth what people are paying or not: If it was not worth what they are paying, market research would reveal that, at least for the larger businesses that can afford to do it, and they would stop paying. It may be worth far less compared to older forms of advertising, and they may not be making anywhere near the same returns as they used to, but if they were actually losing money on it, they would not do it. That said, if they are not getting the benefits they feel like they should, maybe they need to reevaluate their advertising strategy. For example, if Soylent is getting poor results because people are not watching their ad, that’s their own fault for not introducing their product in the audio track. They should not be charged less just because they are not using their ad time effectively. If online advertising gets terrible results, it is largely because the quality of the ads is terrible, and that is the fault of the companies making the ad and approving the ads to represent them, not the companies distributing them.
On the flip side our youtube conversions are well above industry standards.
But we do read this feed back and when we create ads we want the beat i teraction possible.