Why Your Marketing Messages Are Being Ignored

You’ve eagerly clicked on a YouTube video, anticipating the content. Suddenly, an ad starts playing. You search for the ‘Skip Ad’ button, only to realize it’s not there. You’re stuck with 15 painstaking seconds of advertising. Annoyed? Most likely.

This scenario underpins a fundamental truth – no one actively seeks out advertising when engaging with online content. Yet, annually, marketers invest billions to seize the attention of these unwilling viewers. 

The Current Conundrum: Oversaturation & Acceptance

In the digital age, consumer tolerance for advertising has significantly decreased compared to broadcast television and print mediums. Compounding this issue is the apparent decline in the creativity of modern-day advertising messages. They’ve become so mundane they barely register in consumers’ minds, let alone resonate with their emotions or sense of humor.

According to Emilia Kirk in Forbes, people are exposed to 6,000 and 10,000 advertisements daily. The human brain can’t process this surplus of content, resulting in most ads being ignored or forgotten within seconds.

But does it have to be this way? Not if you balance your focus between mastering the creative craft and obsessing over analytics.

Photo by Magda Ehlers

Reviving Creativity in Digital Advertising

The simple yet effective methods used during advertising’s golden age can still be applied to today’s digital spaces. The challenge is holding the viewer’s attention for 3–5 seconds. Think of it as creating a highway billboard that a driver needs to be able to read across four lanes of traffic and understand what you’re selling.

So how do you get there? By crafting messages that are engaging, relatable, and memorable. Make the viewer feel, laugh, and think. By doing so, you’re not just selling a product or service; you’re offering an experience, a story, a connection.

Principle One: It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It

Crafting compelling marketing messages is an art and a science. As a junior copywriter studying the best advertising in the world, it took me around five years to master the craft of conceptual advertising. And here’s the thing: I have some good and bad news about that.

The Uncomfortable Truth

The bad news first: if you’re not naturally conceptual, you might struggle to become so. You can be an exceptional writer of brochures, articles, books, poetry, and other inspiring forms of communication. However, if you aren’t innately conceptual and haven’t spent years honing that aspect of the craft, crafting something “quick-witted” that engages your audience in mere seconds may be challenging.

Conceptual copywriters and art directors are natural ideas people. They possess the ability to communicate in clever, concise ways. Creating a conceptual ad is akin to writing a joke; think one-liner or setup and payoff. The message doesn’t need to be comical. It could be poignant or thought-provoking, but it will likely carry a conceptual twist or combine words and visuals to create something almost instantly meaningful to the viewer or reader.

This scenario underpins a fundamental truth – no one actively seeks out advertising when engaging with online content. Yet, annually, marketers invest billions to seize the attention of these unwilling viewers.

The Silver Lining

Now for the good news: if you are conceptual, you can revolutionize your online marketing overnight by adhering to some critical guidelines:

• The Customer’s Journey

Too many advertisers focus principally on their features and benefits. This is a misstep. Instead of claiming to solve the customer’s problem with your fantastic product, tailor your messaging within the context of the customer’s life. Make it about the customer solving their problem or enhancing their life with your product’s assistance. They are the hero, not you. You can place your product front and center but ensure you’re discussing the customer. It’s a subtle yet colossal difference.

• Keep It Simple

Like with great jokes, the audience should understand it instantly. The type of ideas that worked in old-world magazine ads still work in digital ads and social media posts today.

• Make It True

Whenever you can connect your brand with a simple truth about life, you stand a better chance of delivering a marketing message that resonates with your audience. If they nod in agreement, you’re off to a promising start. This is another reason to center your messages around the customer’s experience rather than your product benefits. If you say something the customer believes about life, you have earned “permission” to introduce your product benefits.

• Make It Emotional

As I’ve stated, the first step in effective messaging is to capture your audience’s attention. Creating a conceptual, clever message makes them aware that your message exists and might deserve 3–5 seconds of their time. You are making them “mindful” of your message. If you want your message to be memorable, it should also evoke some emotion. This could be as simple as making them smile or nod in agreement while capturing their attention. Or, as they go beyond those initial 5 seconds by watching, reading, or clicking through to a product page, ensure you are attempting to connect with their feelings as much as their thoughts.

Photo by Stock_Holm

Principle Two: Where You Say It Matters

In advertising, location is just as important as the message. This is where the tactic of contextual advertising comes into play. Contextual advertising is placing ads on websites directly related to your product or service. Sounds like common sense, right? But you’d be surprised how often this simple principle is overlooked.

Imagine this: You’re browsing a car website and are presented with an ad for a new car model. It’s relevant and engaging because it aligns with the content you’re already consuming. Now compare this with seeing a food ad on the same car website. It’s out of place and less likely to capture your attention. According to studies, ensuring that your ads are contextually relevant can boost memorability by nearly 25%.

If you’re in the creative department, don’t hesitate to suggest the importance of following this principle to the media department. The results might surprise you.

Principle Three: Why You Say It Is Crucial

Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” This statement holds a profound truth about consumer behavior. Why does your business exist? What are your core beliefs? Often, consumers have multiple purchasing choices. When all things are equal, they likely choose the brand they connect with on an emotional or identity level.

Take Apple, for example. People fall in love with the brand and what it stands for – challenging the status quo and thinking differently. As a result, they’re willing to pay more for their products. While you may not be able to communicate this thoroughly in a 5-second ad, when a prospective customer clicks through to learn more about your brand, make sure they understand who you are and what you stand for without working too hard. Be brave enough to stand for something, even if it means not appealing to everyone.

The Purpose of Any Brand

Ultimately, the purpose of any brand is to make lives better. We all want a better life, and if a brand can help us achieve that through its products or services, we are more likely to incorporate it into our lives. So, whenever you produce a digital ad, write copy for your website, or post to Instagram or TikTok, ask yourself or your marketing team, “Is this communicating to our audience that they can make their lives better with the help of our brand?” If not, rethink, reword, redesign.

Twisting is Better Than Shouting

Remember, no one turns on their computer or looks at their phone hoping to see one of your marketing messages. Just because you buy ad space or time, it doesn’t mean people will pay attention. And turning up the volume by spending more money does not provide the best or most sustainable ROI.

Implementing conceptual messages that have clever twists, connecting with people emotionally, and placing your messages where they make logical sense are principles that can make people more receptive to your marketing. Over time, they may ignore the “Skip ads” button or stop scrolling for a few seconds when they see your messages. And since you’re fighting for attention against thousands of other messages daily, that’s a significant achievement.

There’s much more to understand about the nuances of different online platforms, and we’ll explore those in future articles. For now, remember that it’s not about shouting louder—it’s about twisting your message in a way that resonates with your audience.

At Hone Ventures, we understand these challenges and have the expertise to help your startup thrive in this competitive landscape. Don’t let your messages be part of the annoying thousands. Let’s work together to make them stand out, engage, and convert. Get in touch with us today, and let’s create compelling narratives that your audience won’t just see but remember.

Get in touch with our team today to start the conversation!

Agent Provocateur and Chief Creative Officer at Hone Ventures and Un_Standard. We create strategies for businesses of all sizes that improve customer relationships and help businesses grow. In his spare time, he loves experimenting in the kitchen and chasing after his three cats, Hallie Tosis, Lester Een, and Jim G. Vitis.

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