Kevin James - The IT Control Specialists

    What’s so great about Digital Advertising?

    TV and videos are fantastic; they have a tremendous ability to instantly grab and command attention. They are part of perhaps the most important invention over the past 100 years, I don’t think anybody would deny that.

    The staggering adoption of the medium has given rise to the idea that it has special (and therefore lucrative) influential power over decision making. The truth, however, is both more complicated and more simple. My aim by the end of this article is to explain why.

    To celebrate our ongoing relationship with one of the leading providers of digital advertising solutions, we wanted to spend some time on how to leverage this new technology successfully.

    To take a look at our fantastic Display Solution, just click here.


    So…. what is Advertising?

    Many people think that advertising is a method of selling to customers. While this is sometimes true – in that advertising spend is usually followed by an increase in sales – in most cases this is not the main goal. Adverts often contain promotions, but the in the longer term what an advertiser seeks is recognition, and to be taken seriously in their market.

    Consider, for instance, that many adverts have no actual offers, and do not say anything especially important. Instead they feature a collection of images and genial ideas which (the advertiser hopes) will become linked with the identity of the company. This is known as brand association.

    The conventional wisdom goes something like this:

    “Brand association is anything which is deep seated in customer’s mind about the brand. Brands should be associated with something positive so that the customers relate your brand to being positive.

    It can also be defined as the degree to which a specific product/service is recognised within its product/service class/category. Names often reinforce an important attribute or benefit to form product positioning. For instance – Power book.” – Management Study Guide

    On a lighter note:

    “Maybe attaching your brand name to some singing nuns would work perfectly well. It wouldn’t make any sense, but then neither does Christianity or Harry Potter, neither of which seem to suffer inordinately from the fact.” – Rory Sutherland


    What people want

    Why aren’t adverts more aggressive? In a purely economic world, the only thing that matters is price and availability. The only problem is we don’t live in a purely economic world – we live in a world filled with humans, who have a more group-focused approach to decision-making.

    Large group of people symbolizing direction , progress,growth.

    Back in 2014, Penguin published a book called ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal. It looked at consumer behaviour, specifically in regards to advertising within phone apps and the way habits are cultivated within digital spaces. During his examination of people and digital advertising, he came to quite a stark realisation.

    “All humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek hope and avoid fear, and finally, to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection… We often think the Internet [and technology] enable you to do new things … But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.”

    If we can accept that people are not seeking new things from digital advertising, but rather are seeking to scratch the same itches humans have had for millennia; then we can recognise the potential of tools such as digital advertising in meeting these goals. Now whether the guidelines for brand association are conscious of this realisation, or are based on trial and error evidence built up over time, they either explicitly or inadvertently have been developed to meet these very same goals. With a clearer picture of what the audience is actually seeking in-mind, the pursuit of high standards can begin.

    On a lighter note:

    “I think the first role of marketing is to make a decision easy to make. And that mean firstly clarity in terms of choice, and secondly it means lack of anxiety. So the first role of marketing is not actually getting preference, it’s not actually getting someone to prefer a Philips TV, it’s getting someone non-anxious about buying a Philips.” – Rory Sutherland


    How to make a proposition more enticing


    Easy: just film a Cat Video! While not often advice you will hear from a marketing consultant, it has a grain of truth: Anyone who has read ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler will understand that brand association is a ‘fast process’, meaning it doesn’t require conscious thought, it just happens. After watching an ad for McDonald’s, for instance, you don’t consider the relationships just shown and how well they promote a certain type of thinking (such as social inclusion or global consistency). Either it works, or it doesn’t work, but once the association is made, people tend to believe it (unless they have a good reason to think otherwise).

    Taking a step back, we know the main aims of advertising are:

    1. To provide pleasure and remove or negate pain
    2. To focus on hope and positivity, and to avoid fear and negativity
    3. To promote social acceptance and remove risk of rejection

    Of course these aims are not tough to achieve, but they are a requirement for a customer to be receptive – a strong starting point for the real pitch, if you like. This is where things get a little more complicated and economics plays a part. Economics is part of ‘thinking slow’, or in other words using the conscious part of our brains to make a reasoned decision. In effect, an advert will play on these queues to make a customer open and receptive to what they are offering.

    On a lighter note:

    “Poetry is when you make new things familiar and familiar things new.” That isn’t a bad definition of what our job is, to help people appreciate what is unfamiliar, but also to gain a greater appreciation, and place a far higher value, on those things which already exist.


    When Digital Advertising becomes powerful

    Ideas such as pleasure, pain and acceptance don’t exist within a vacuum: they live within the context of an entire spectrum of other things.

    As a thought experiment: could you be happy and content if you knew that someone you care about is in real immediate and life threatening danger? I would guess that it would be extremely hard, if not impossible.

    In the same way, it may be impossible to enjoy a product or service when the image of the company does not meet a key unwritten requirement. In questioning what these needs might be, we need to consider business more broadly. For a business to be acceptable it needs to: be trustworthy; have high standards of quality assurance; be accountable for breakages or other issues; take responsibility for factors such as support or returns; and meet the basic guidelines that guide good business practices.

    When a business, or person, attempts to prove these core principles as part of the way they operate, it is called ‘relational signalling’. These may be specific qualifications, credentials, a location, an alliance with a particular group or exclusivity within a customer base.


    On a lighter note:

    “If you run a restaurant, there is no healthy distinction to be made by the value which is created in the kitchen, cooking the food, and the value created in the restaurant by sweeping the floor. One of them creates the primary product — the thing we think we’re paying for — the other one creates a context within which we can enjoy and appreciate that product.

    The idea that one of them should actually have priority over the other is fundamentally wrong.” – Von Mises


    A Surprising Answer!! (to a question nobody asked)

    Why is digital advertising both an easy and difficult field practice for companies to get right?

    That’s the question I basically set out to try answer, which is not easy, because there are many ways to consider the question. The problem is that, like everything, it depends on what a company wants to do with it. Linking a brand with good associations is not difficult, and can really enhance a reputation or mood, but sooner or later economics plays a part. In these cases the impact of digital advertising depends on the messaging; on giving the customer the nudge to make a sale; and finally it requires some great timing.

    The final point, timing, is the most important to underline in terms of digital advertising. There are techniques that can leverage a particular condition to one’s advantage. This extends far beyond just marketing: In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell makes this point very clearly.

    He explains that the way Taxi drivers in LA tend to think is wrong. Taxi drivers in LA start early, and are self-employed. They usually spend the day outside busy areas like train stations or malls, or drive around until they are stopped. Once they have run a certain number of jobs, their quota for the day, they go home. Sometimes this means they finish extremely late, if it’s a slow day.

    However, on some days, taxi drivers get to finish early. These might be days where there is a big event going on from out of town, or if the weather has turned and it starts to rain. More people to pickup in a shorter time means they fill their quota earlier.

    Over the past few years, the world of marketing has transformed into making lemonade from lemons, or getting as much as possible from the smallest spend. This means that any marketeer worth his salt knows that yield management is not just a four syllable phrase, it is a way of capitalising on an opportunity. As Gladwell continues: during the periods where demand is high, the taxi drivers should work past their quota and keep going as long as they can. During the slowest days, usually the hottest, they shouldn’t even bother to work at all, and should instead take the day off! This way, the taxi driver applies less effort overall for significantly more gain (and time off!).

    In a similar way, shops discount items that are near their sell-by date, and they increase promotions for ice-creams when the sun comes out. The point here is that each situation in business is unique, but requires a reaction to take advantage of specific situations. This is a key feature of digital advertising especially – its ability to react in an optimal way quickly – and to make the most of a situation.


    On a lighter note:

    “Certainty is the crystal meth of decision making – it’s what everybody craves” – Gerald Ashley



    (… and it’s a big however.)

    Recognising timing factors is not always easy, even when its pointed out. Old habits die hard. Taxi drivers in LA still just work to their quota rather than take Malcolm Gladwell’s sound advice. This is the difficulty: that what is easy to accomplish, and has been done for sometime, can often seem right – regardless of any advice you might get.

    So, in short, when it comes to ensuring great digital advertising, perhaps the best one can hope for is to continually ensure to promote the three core principles that make a customer receptive:

    1. To provide pleasure and remove or negate pain
    2. To focus on hope and positivity, and to avoid fear and negativity
    3. To promote social acceptance and remove risk of rejection

    From there, to try and recognise opportunities where applying concentrated effort can lead to improved outcomes. Capitalise on emergent situations, and where possible turn them to your advantage. Finally, don’t become lazy in the way you approach familiar problems, and assume that there is a better method to promote products or services which have not yet been discovered, no matter how old the company is.

    On a lighter note:

    Rory Sutherland, Chairman of Ogilvy Change, demonstrates that this process does not have to be difficult and does not require sweeping change, it just demands a new perspective.



    Why not take a look at our managed partner solution? It’s perfect for Digital Signage or Digital Advertising!


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