Advertising, Connected TV

This Ad is Clearly Not Meant For Me…

A look at how some digital ads are missing the mark with consumers and advertisers.

This Ad is Clearly Not Meant For Me…

5 Min Read

The Big Game just happened—bringing with it a new reigning champion and a pregnancy announcement like no other (congrats Rihanna). While it’s generally known as the most important day in football, those in marketing and advertising might think of it as something else—the unofficial start of the TV advertising new year.

It’s no secret that a lot of people watch the Big Game primarily for the memorable ads—not sure if we’ll ever be able to rid our brains of the Budweiser frogs—but 2023’s commercials appear to have left viewers with mixed feelings. All of the big name brands were present, with many of them using celebrities to carry their advertisements. And, much like every year, there were some great ads mixed in with some not-so-great ones.

One thing that the Big Game makes pretty clear is that traditional TV isn’t necessarily an advertising channel “for all”. Year after year, we see the same mega companies purchasing ad space that would break the bank for many a brand. As Forbes reported, “Aside from the game itself, the commercials garner the most attention. But that attention comes with a hefty price tag. In 2023, a 30-second Super Bowl commercial costs a record-high average of $7 million.”

Because of the inaccessibility of advertising during the Big Game, and really even TV advertising in general, a large number of small to mid-sized businesses are forced to lean on digital and social media ads to get their messaging out to the masses. So, social media has empowered brands to get in front of audiences, no matter the time of year or what the occasion—sounds great, right? In theory, yes. But it seems some social advertising standards have been slipping as of late, leaving a number of brands and consumers scratching their heads.

Social Media is a Mixed Bag for Consumers and Advertisers

Historically, social media has been a groundbreaking advertising channel. With essentially the click of a button, businesses—no matter their size, industry, budget, etc.—can target and advertise to a wide array of audiences across the globe. The channel changed the game for brands, creating a less painful purchasing process and a higher reward than the advertising mediums of earlier years.

“In the past, buying a newspaper or television ad usually involved calling up a representative who would manually review and place the ad,” Tiffany Hsu of the New York Times wrote. “Now, more than 90 percent of spending on digital display ads happens through automated software.”

However, social media advertising has seemingly started to change in quality. Despite the granular level of audience targeting provided by the channel, consumers are noticing that: 1. they’re viewing ads that are blatantly not meant for them and/or 2. the ads are of lower quality than what they’ve become accustomed to seeing on their favorite social feeds.

“I don’t know who they think I am,” Portia Kapraun told the New York Times. “These feel like bargain basement advertisers. It mostly seemed like things you would see if you were watching late-night television.”

We’ve had similar experiences—here are a few of the poorly targeted items some MNTN team members have seen in social media ads recently:

  • “Comfortable” mouth tape—apparently to limit snoring? (No one in the household snores)
  • LED jewelry… meant to wear on one’s face (No one in the household adorns their face or hits the rave scene much)
  • Dress pants specifically designed for those with “athletic thighs” (The people in this household wouldn’t characterize their thighs as particularly “athletic”)

In addition to poor consumer experiences, badly placed ads create problems for brands. Well-regarded businesses are now finding their messaging served next to lower quality, poorly targeted ads. This has created an inconsistent and, at times, confusing experience for consumers—which isn’t a positive for brands who are nailing their targeting and relying on social for performance, but sit alongside content that drags down the overall ad experience.

Safety Concerns Around Hosted Content are Impacting Advertising Dollars

Brand perception due to questionable ad creative and mis-targeted ads isn’t the only issue—there are ongoing advertiser safety concerns around the types of user content already hosted on some social media platforms.

Since Elon Musk’s much talked about purchase of Twitter, his management of the platform has been met with an array of sentiments—good, bad and everything in between. One fairly controversial change Musk made is Twitter’s approach to monitoring what can be said by its users. Not wanting to be associated with the harmful rhetoric found in some tweets, many major brands have greatly decreased spend or stopped advertising altogether on the platform.

To combat this mass exodus, Twitter has lured brands to come back by offering sizeable advertiser discounts. Speaking of the Big Game—the platform matched ad spending up to $250,000 during the broadcast.

“It might not sound like much compared to the cost of a commercial during the game itself,” Digiday wrote. “but these discounts funded a large chunk of the ad dollars that were spent on Twitter over the weekend, given pre-rolls, takeovers and video sponsorships can typically set advertisers back anywhere between $350,000 to $600,000 per day.”

Connected TV Could be a Happy Medium for Advertisers

We know we may be a little biased, but hear us out… Connected TV (CTV) offers the prestige and reach of traditional television advertising but with the high level of campaign control of performance channels like paid social. Audience targeting on CTV provides an unmatched level of sophistication, ensuring that the right types of ads will reach intended viewers—all on top streaming networks.

This means, fewer “why the F am I seeing this ad?” moments for consumers and better performance results for advertisers. Connected TV advertising is accessible for many brands and has a high floor for the quality of the ads served, creating a safe environment for brands and consumers alike. An added bonus? There is an increasing number of people to advertise to—more than half of Americans have ditched their cable subscriptions, choosing to consume their favorite content on streaming services instead.

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