Against all odds,
traditional advertising is perceived by consumers as more informative,
entertaining and necessary than online advertising. Of more than 1,200 people surveyed
for digital marketing show ad:tech London by Zussi Research, 69 percent
believed traditional advertising was relevant to them, compared with 45 percent
for online. For the TV target audience—those aged between 25-34-years old—the
gap widens further: 81 percent (traditional) vs. 53 percent (online).
Worse still for digital marketers, annoyance around advertising on the Web is twice as high online as offline. Comments made were that digital advertising is "ill-structured," "mainly irrelevant" and represents a bigger, unwanted distraction for the consumer, rather than a subtle influence.
Typical comments included: "Traditional advertising is less in your face - online seems to use all kinds of annoying tricks to make you view them, eg popups and blank screen links you click by accident. It's an immediate turn-off."
Why is this happening?
ad:tech conference and marketing director, Christophe Asselin, says that customers aren't responding positively the way that the industry believes. "While we are witnessing some amazing online campaigns out there, this research simply shows that the overall advertising and marketing community isn't hitting the mark with online users.
"Customers are becoming more and more savvy to online marketing tactics and are less forgiving toward sloppy and clumsy practices mainly adapted from the old mass media communication model. Just because online is cheaper and quicker to implement, doesn't mean you can afford to throw away its huge potential," added Asselin.
"There are many opportunities for digital advertising to be far more engaging, relevant and pertinent than traditional media. Education and greater skills are desperately needed to unleash the full power of digital if we want leave up to our users' expectations," Asselin says.
ad:tech speaker and BBC head of technology for marketing, communications and audiences, Mark Kelleher, says: "Given the changing behavior of the public with the advent of multimedia, online promotions could hold huge potential value but many organizations aren't unleashing this potential effectively."
So how companies can get it right?
In parallel to the consumer study, ad:tech London also surveyed brand advertisers and marketers who attended the show in 2009. 633 surveys were completed.
One interesting aspect was how unconfident respondents were. When asked to describe a topic to a colleague many said they were "aware but not confident" of the subject. Surprisingly, these included social marketing, mobile marketing and search engine marketing. Only 23 percent would regard themselves as digital marketing experts.
Regardless of this low-confidence level, 71 percent of respondents said that their company handles its digital campaigns in-house. "While online marketing budgets are increasing, companies need to make sure the same investment is done to train and educate their staff," says Asselin. "The industry is still very young, newcomers are numerous and best practice isn't being shared. ad:tech London is a crucial platform to unite advertisers, media owners and agencies to harness the power of digital and deliver real marketing ROI."