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The utterly undifferentiated machine gun approach to consumer advertising

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy November 30, 2015
The tsunami of undifferentiated ads over the holiday period was a turn off.

advertising - gaping void
The pundits will no doubt laud the fact sales conducted through online and mobile devices blew out past years' Black Friday and Cyber Monday performance. I on the other hand, am profoundly depressed at the lack of any differentiation in the tsunami of sometimes machine gun frequency with which consumer advertising have polluted my inbox over the holiday period.

It was a topic of discussion on our team call yesterday. Colleagues in the UK said that while not as bad as in the US, they are seeing a trend towards UK based brands using the US holiday as an excuse to drive early sales in the run up to the British Christmas shopping bonanza.

I am far from alone. This from TechCrunch:

Anecdotally, I saw a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook joking about turning on email filters to weed out over-promotion from various e-commerce companies, but Adobe notes that in fact email has proven to be a strong driver of traffic. 14% of all revenue on Thanksgiving, it said, was attributable to inbox promotions.

From this casual observer's perspective, it was almost as though brands gave the unsuspecting public a day off for Thanksgiving and then drowned us all in exhortations to buy whatever they are selling. The most egregious in my view were Dot & Bo and Best Buy, sending mail after mail during each day. Everything from 'get in early' to 'last chance' to 'extended last chance' offerings, none of which are particularly different except in wording, treat the reader like an idiot whose only duty is to buy unquestioningly.

Unfortunately for those of us who have to weed this stuff out, email advertising/marketing works. Allegedly.

For all the things we have said about content and content marketing, the weekend had the feel of desperation by just about every brand that has me on their mailing list. Waking up to progressively shriller demands to buy, buy, buy had the opposite effect. They turned me off. My delete button was hit just as fast as any automated system could fire ads back at me.

One colleague said that the ad sales frenzy has become so predictable that consumers would be daft to buy white goods in the run up to this period. The deals on offer, often across the board, are certainly good enough to encourage spending. But does that mean we need yelling at to buy?

I sense the answer is 'no.' We certainly don't need the scattergun approach that characterized so much of what came into my inbox. It was almost as though any pretense at personalizing was thrown out the window as brands attempt to shift stock. In that sense, it felt like we'd stepped back years.

All that has changed is the digitizing of the weekend newspaper inserts. As if those weren't wasteful enough, the lack of any imagination beggars belief.

The next step for me will be a wholesale filtering of brands and with it all of their content. Google doesn't do a perfect job but it is good enough. It may mean that over time I miss out on useful promotions but the upside is I will come away from these holiday periods feeling a lot less frustrated than I do today.

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