Everywhere you go, there’s noise. Auditory noise, visual noise and so much mental clutter that it’s hard to think, let alone really absorb what’s being thrown at you. It’s no wonder that advertising is becoming less effective and advertisers are turning to more aggressive tactics in order to keep their message visible to a public that is constantly tuning out as much of that noise as possible.
When it comes to digital ad fatigue, and screen fatigue in general, when is enough already far too much?
This is the question that marketers have to ask themselves. At some point, yelling louder than the next person just leaves you both hoarse.
The Highly Adaptive Human and Ad Fatigue
Humans are highly adaptive animals, that’s not a secret to anyone.
What fewer people consider is how this applies to advertisements that flash across their screens, appear in their newspapers, come through their radios and so forth. It may not seem like it matters how many times your unchanging toothpaste advert appears on Facebook, but the truth is that your audience will reach a saturation point and simply tune you out from that moment on.
It’s kind of like when you’re on hold for a very long time with the bank. In the beginning, you hear the piped-in music quite clearly. Each and every note is its own crisp spark. But bit by bit, they start to melt together, until all that hold music becomes white noise. It might as well be a buzzing fan for all your tuned-out brain knows.
When Too Much Is Too Much
Repetitive advertising works the exact same way. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing; in fact, it is just too much. Not only does overdoing the screen time waste your creative assets in that they stop hitting their mark, it also over-saturates your audience with the same old ads again and again, wasting your money. This goes at least double for any marketing you do in the digital realm.
Repetition is absolutely important, but there’s a line where repetition crosses over into the costly noise realm. AdEspresso by Hootsuite did an interesting analysis of 500 randomly sampled Facebook ad campaigns in 2015. What it found was that as ad frequency increased, the click-through rate for those ads decreased and the cost-per-click rose precipitously. In general, keeping ad display frequency per potential lead in the range of five to 10 impressions seems to be the sweet spot, but that can vary wildly depending on your industry.
Combatting Ad Fatigue Intelligently
What does it mean to decrease your ad display frequency? How does this affect your marketing efforts and your bottom line? Well, first, it means you need to be collecting as much data as possible while those five to 10 impressions are being displayed. Who’s clicking, who isn’t, both bits of information are pretty important to tweaking the next round of messaging to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Secondly, and probably most importantly, the entire industry needs to be looking inward and working toward some kind of balance. There are so many ads today that the very users you’re trying to reach are actively avoiding you. The installation of ad blockers is on the rise.
In fact, Google announced on February 15, 2018 that its popular browser, Chrome, will be blocking any ads that don’t meet the Better Ads Standards from that day forward. On desktops, that means ads that take over the browser and autoplay videos, as well as those pop-up ads and sticky ads that don’t move. For mobile, Chrome will block flashing animation, full screen scroll over ads and ads that display prior to content loading.
The Plan Going Forward
The time is now. Either digital marketers move to a fewer, but better, method of marketing voluntarily or the risk is high that there will only be a few limited gates to squeeze through in the near future. With the massive amount of control that Google and Facebook have over digital ad space, this isn’t just a lot of ad-pocalypse talk. The digital realm is an amazing and enriched environment for targeting populations, but what Google gives, it can also take away.
What’s going to work in the future of fewer, but better? Try subtle, personalized marketing based on pixels or smart algorithms. Chatbots are also looking promising for brands that do a lot of customer service over social media. Predictive and suggestive shopping tools are helpful for Millenials looking for the perfect birthday gift and, of course, paid search is always a good tool for service businesses.