Digital advertising is becoming like a game of Whack-A-Mole

digital advertising is like whack-a-mole, seriously
Credit: Icatnews /

One problem with advertising is that we are simply running out of space. The other, perhaps bigger, problem is that within the definition of advertising we have to include the beast that is direct marketing, as perpetrated by Facebook, Google and others.

Of course it can argued that some of the adverts on Facebook are creative, funny or make you cry, but they are all guilty of clickbait. This makes them direct marketing campaigns.

Another potential problem is that the definition of what counts as a “view” means that many videos on Facebook can be counted as having been viewed, when actually what the user has done is inadvertently started a video rolling while reading something completely different.

This means that Facebook’s advertisers are being sold dodgy data, even before the company over-states the video statistics.

And the adverts themselves are being written by people who cannot write properly. A forthcoming copy writing course in Edinburgh is being delivered by someone who wrote this on their LinkedIn profile: ‘my role [deleted to protect the guilty] is to lead a team and agency to understand and communicate a companies core values to help them connect with the people who share those same values’.

This person should read ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’.

The fact that some advertisers are considering going back to linear TV is also worrying. Linear TV is becoming extinct. Most people watch their favourite shows on catch up, both for convenience and for the ad free experience. Daytime TV frankly does not count – they tend to be no more than direct marketing but with pictures.

If the life expectancy of advertising on TV is now pretty short, and there is less and less room and more and more advertisers online, where do advertisers (or even direct marketers) go?

And the Millenials and Generation Z that we were hoping wouldn’t mind a bit of advertising, actually hate it, avoid it if they can, and even spend their pocket money to avoid seeing it.

Advertising is becoming like a game of Whack-A-Mole as advertisers follow potential customers onto mobiles and into apps, and customers run for the next piece of cover.

Having a poke at advertisers and advertising might be fun, but there is, surely, a very serious question here.

With the places to advertise (effectively) becoming limited, with TV dying (does anyone know someone under the age of 25 who owns one?) and with the next prime audience avoiding anything that is advertising funded – what happens? Advertisers cut back their budgets because every piece of real estate has been taken up? The fight for space balloons into a massive bubble, people realise that advertising simply stops working, and we end up with massive damage to the industry itself and potentially terminal fallout for companies that rely on advertising?

We will wait and see.

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