The Disconnect Between Brand Advertisers And Consumers Has Never Been Wider

Brand advertisers have been frantically pouring ad budgets into digital channels for the last twenty years. They’ve chased every shiny object offered up to them from programmatic ads on long-tail sites, behavioral targeting and hyper targeting, and influencer marketing — using so-called “influencers” to hawk their products. But haven’t they seen enough examples of influencers not having any actual influence at all, because most or all of their followers are fake accounts (NY Times: The Follower Factory)? It’s also readily apparent now that much of the “digital marketing” was not marketing at all, but just “ad spending” that played beautifully into making many ad tech companies and their investors super rich. (When Big Brands Stopped Spending On Digital Ads, Nothing Happened. Why?). And don’t they realize that most of the sales they saw while they were doing digital marketing were not caused by the digital marketing; those sales would have happened anyway.

Puncturing this “bubble” hurts a lot, because so many billions have been spent in its pursuit already. However, brand advertisers should and can do better digital marketing. Let’s start with some particulars, related to the influencer marketing that remains to popular among brand advertisers.

92% of marketers believe their influencer content resonates, but …

A new report from Stackla reveals the wide disconnect between brands that advertise on social media and the consumers they think they are reaching and influencing.

“92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers” but “only 13% [of consumers] said content from a brand is impactful and a mere 8% said influencer-created content would highly impact their purchasing decisions.”

Stackla “surveyed 1,590 consumers and 150 B2C marketers from the US, UK and Australia to understand the types of content consumers create, reference and are influenced by” and compared it to the viewpoints of marketers who create content experiences for consumers.

A few key highlights from their findings:

  • 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support
  • Although 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers, 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
  • Consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content.
  • 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, yet only 13% said content from a brand is impactful and a mere 8% said influencer-created content would highly impact their purchasing decisions.
  • Although consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content when making purchasing decisions, 49% of marketers are planning to increase their investment in influencer marketing.

Regulators are also starting to clamp down on “deceptive advertising”

Advertising Standards Authority also recently ruled that “Filters should not be applied to social media adverts if they exaggerate the effect of the product.” More specifically this applies to brands and influencers promoting beauty products. The use of “beauty filters” is likely to “exaggerate the effect the products are capable of achieving.” Source:

BBC NewsInfluencers told not to use ‘misleading’ beauty filters

Bombarding consumers with more ads

MORE FROM FORBESDespite Claims That More Targeting Means More Relevant Ads, Nope. Here’s Proof.

Another digital marketing “malpractice” that brands are guilty of is bombarding consumers with more and more ads. Somehow advertisers believe that by continuously increasing “reach and frequency” they can get consumers to buy more. It’s actually having the opposite effect. In digital, the scourge of too-many-ads has caused increasing numbers of consumers to use ad blockers. Recent figures from Q4 2020 peg the rates of ad blocking in the range of 10 – 20% depending on the industry vertical. Note that ad blocking on mobile devices still remains very low (sub 1%), due to the lack of plugins and extensions in most mobile browsers.

Advertisers may also believe that hyper targeting their ads means that the ads are more relevant to consumers. But recent research by Adalytics confirms other studies that have documented the flaws in this assumption. Not only did the research document how may ads a typical person is shown but how few are actually relevant. For example, over the course of a month, “4,975 ads, of which there were 397 unique advertisers” and “One advertiser showed me their ads over 2,000 times within the course of one month.” Some of these findings reveal not only that the targeting didn’t work as well as expected, but also that the underlying programmatic advertising tech may not work as well as expected — e.g. the difficulty in enforcing frequency caps. And these are not isolated incidences. When combined with bot fraud, where bots easily rotate the device, browser, operating system, and IP address they use when committing ad fraud, there’s a ton of “reach and frequency” of ads being shown to bots and not to humans.

So What?

Advertisers would do better in the long run not tricking people into buying their products using social media influencers. Instead, building trust with consumers through authentic interactions that are actually valuable to the consumers is much better for sustained long term growth, as opposed to quick sales now and losing the customer forever, once they find out they’ve been duped.

MORE FROM FORBESPerverse Incentives, Short-Termism Cause Ad Fraud To Thrive

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