Why We Like Advertising

Defined as a communication that aims to persuade an audience to take an action, advertising has been around since the Egyptians. More often, consumers associate advertising with shopping, although it’s used for politics and other social issues.

Beyond enabling media to be lower priced or free, advertising shows us what’s new and in style. It lets us know what’s happening in terms of future events and products.

Why consumers hate advertising

Contrary to the amount of complaining around advertising, only about two out five adults dislike advertising in general based on Experian Simmons’ Spring 2010 National Consumer Survey.

Source: via eMarketer.com

As consumers, our sentiments are more specific. We feel negatively towards advertising because:

  1. It’s intrusive, interrupting our entertainment or other activity.
  2. It interferes with our experience.
  3. It forces us to pay attention with loud music or other features.
  4. It wastes our time because it’s irrelevant to our needs.
  5. It’s not trustworthy because we don’t believe its claims.
  6. It destroys our environment because it’s plastered everywhere; sometimes, it can be downright dangerous like the stairs in New York City’s Penn Station where pedestrians can’t distinguish the steps.
  7. It’s big business and we just have a natural dislike of it, especially when it touches our personal lives.

BUT–we don’t hate advertising.

Here’s advertising that we like and, even seek out.

  1. Store windows filled with product and signs to lure us in.
  2. Shopping bags, especially among today’s green conscious shoppers are looking for ways to recycle. We’re happy to reuse fancy shopping bags or buy more eco-friendly bags, often with a store’s promotion in it.
  3. Samples. Who doesn’t like samples whether they’re in our local food purveyor, in our mailboxes or at the movies? They appeal to our love of Free (Hat tip to Chris Anderson!)
  4. In-store merchandising doesn’t bother shoppers. Hey they’re there to buy stuff so seeing a promotion may sway them to another brand.
  5. Refill reminders may be considered a service. A drugstore’s automated call to let you know that it’s time to re-order can be helpful.
  6. Coupons, in any form including Sunday newspaper FSIs and Groupon, are sought by price conscious customers
  7. Deals delivered via email, social media and direct mail. Information shoppers seek out.
  8. Product placement, most notably on television. As long as someone isn’t mentioning every product in sight or obfuscating the rest of the action it’s acceptable. Similarly, some viewers liked the Mad Men ads that extended the show’s characters into actual ads.
  9. PR placements in the form of movie stars and authors who appear on talk shows feel like entertainment. Despite this, they are promotions nonetheless. Bear in mind Oprah is one of the best things that has happened to the book industry since the best seller list.
  10. Social shopping sites like Retail Me Not attract shoppers who want more information.
  11. Magazine advertising, especially for the major fall fashion season, is often more alluring than the editorial content.
  12. Classified advertising provides a service for readers to find specific items such as real estate and jobs. This includes Craigslist, job boards like HotJobs and Monster and old fashioned print newspapers.
  13. Useful sponsorships where the consumer gets something we think is of value whether it’s a television show with limited commercials or The Economist’s sponsored online subscriptions. This also includes the less obvious naming of stadiums, theaters and the like.
  14. Search engines are paid information integrated with other sourced information.
  15. Webinars and live training sessions that provide useful information or education. If a firm steps over the line and turns it into a sales talk, then we stop listening.
  16. Exhibit halls at conferences are paid sites to engage with targeted prospects and customers. From a customer perspective, they allow for efficient examination of new services and options.

For marketers, what’s important is that consumers aren’t totally anti-advertising, they expect it to provide a service such as savings and information about products rather than interrupt other activities. The challenge is getting your message to break through without pissing off your prospect.

Are there other forms of advertising that customers find useful that aren’t on this list? If so, please add to the conversation by including them in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Photo credit: Blakeemrys via Flickr

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  • http://tommoradpour.wordpress.com Tom Moradpour

    Great write up Heidi (as always).

    I like the fact you found more useful versions of advertising that consumer “like” than obtrusive ones they dislike. I would add a 17 – High Entertainment Value Ads. These get people to watch advertising-dedicated TV shows all over the world. The SuperBowl in the Us being a prime example.

    What strikes me though, is that the metrics you quote to support the initial “we don’t like ads” claim are actually… not that high!

    My POV – people don’t hate advertising.
    They hate bad advertising.

    Tom
    @tommoradpour