3 Creative Ways to Not Bombard Users with Ads

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A couple weeks ago, ad:tech was held in the one and only city by the bay, San Francisco. Many of the discussions held at the conference focused on how to creatively and effectively target audiences in a world where the options for where to place an advertisement are unlimited.

Several key leaders in the social, gaming, and music industries presented on how their companies are connecting with consumers. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Target groups, not key influencers. Paul Adams, Global Brand Experience Manager at Facebook, argued that marketers and advertisers should target social groups rather than focusing on key influencers. His book, “Grouped,” discusses the impact of targeting small groups of close friends and illustrates why word-of-mouth is the most effective way to attract new users/consumers.

One of Adams’ key points was: influence is spread organically. Many key influencers are convinced to promote a certain company or product via the company itself. This strategy often backfires and causes distrust among users and consumers, which is why they often just take the advice of their most trusted advertisers— friends and family. After all, a natural conversation among a group of friends about where to buy the best pair of shoes is far more convincing than a single tweet from a self-proclaimed social media superstar.

Additionally, Adams discussed that most relationships are built on lightweight interactions over time. You meet a friend of a friend, find a common interest, perhaps later partake in the common interest, and build trust over time. Brands and companies can apply this same form of relationship-building to their customers. In order to do so, brands must be patient with their customers and focus on forming real connections with them over time. When brands engage their customers/users by asking for their feedback and actually listening and responding to it, trust is formed.

2. Target areas where your users won’t ignore you. Another way to reach users is to meet them where they already are. Dave Madden, Senior VP of Global Media Solutions at Electronic Arts, discussed how EA places ads behind their most popular games. Players frequently see the ads in the background while they’re playing a game – but they’ll continue playing. The best part about advertising within a game is that you almost always have the user’s attention. 95% of gamers are not doing anything else while playing a game. This is compared to 66% of users who do nothing else while watching television. If you want to grab a potential consumer’s attention, venture into the world of gaming.

3. Complement your users’ favorite platforms instead of interrupting them. Erin Clift, VP of Global Sales Development at Spotify, Heidi Browning, Senior VP of Sales Marketing at Pandora, Seth Goldstein, Co-founder and Chairman at Turntable.fm, and Marc Ruxin, CEO and Founder at TastemakerX  ended the conference with a discussion on how the music industry successfully incorporates ads into its individual platforms. Spotify and Turntable.fm creatively allow brands to grab users’ attention while not smothering them with ads in the process. Spotify recently announced branded playlists which allow companies like AT&T, McDonald’s, and Reebok to create playlists for users. Turntable.fm has allowed companies like Pepsi to host rooms – a noninvasive way to advertise as well as gain respect from users who appreciate brands’ support to help keep such platforms available.

The moral of the story is: Don’t be a nuisance when it comes to advertising and marketing. Sure, people won’t know about your company or product unless you grab their attention. But make sure to do so in a way that doesn’t slap them in the face, but rather taps them on the shoulder.