We've been bombarded with billboards and advertisements from the day we were born. According to one study, we would see 500 ads per day in the 70's to seeing over 5000 per day now. My niece likes to show me videos on YouTube. When the ads come up she explains to me "this is an ad, you have to just wait for it to finish until you can skip it". A game on my phone rewards me for watching an advert with energy for my cat army. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are inundated with ads for other games that I can download for free where I can pay for things, ingame with more ad views. In the current marketing climate, it feels like we're not paying for people's attention, but their time. Like some low key sci-fi dystopia. A Black Mirror script which never left the 2nd draft because it was just boring and unsatisfying.
We measure impressions, views and clicks to and try and gauge interest and engagement from these parameters, even though we know that a chunk of those clicks and impressions are generated by click farms originating in Russia, India and other countries. The rest of those views are probably my niece watching a weird Polish cartoon for the 17th time. Not really, but it may as well be.
This isn't meant to be doom and gloom, just checking our expectations from the digital channels which we have all come to be so reliant on. Banner blindness isn't the scary boogeyman it once was, it worse. It's a form of conditioning that even my niece has, and she's 4. It's only going to get worse. With people, dual screening more and more attention is being divided. Again, this is just about ensuring the return on investment is worthwhile. Maybe when people are getting more and more time poor, we need to expand our horizons.
Attention is time. And that's a lot to ask from anyone, especially when they haven't knowingly opted in. I think it may be the time to hang up the digital ad spend, put it into developing content, SEO, encouraging people to find you, instead of paying for people to scroll past you and your product. The next generation will be savvier than ever, if you want them to hear about your products or services, make them worth hearing about. Earn attention, stop paying for it.