Is Advertising Becoming Too Invasive?

January 1, 2016

Guest Article By: Brian Jones


When was the last time you scrolled through your Instagram feed without seeing an ad? It’s been getting pretty intense lately. While it may be seen as annoying or a pain to be further bombarded by advertisements where you didn’t use to see them, you have to think of it from their perspective. Large companies spend millions trying to position their product or brand in the right light and in front of the right audience. Social media applications such as Snapchat and Instagram have always recorded information about each user – their habits, simple demographic data, their likes, interests and more. It’s the perfect fit for targeted ads. Social media companies sell advertising space based on selective factors such as who each user is following, etc. Those that purchase the advertising space get their products in front of the right people and the social media companies turn a profit. Everyone’s happy. Or are they?

Increasingly, I have heard from friends that Instagram has been simply overdoing the ads. One user proclaimed that “they’ve stopped using Instagram altogether because there’s just too many of them”. Even twitter users are publicly denouncing Instagram’s advertising strategy:

As a user, whenever we use a free app, we should know that the app developers need to make a profit somehow. Advertising is the only logical answer — Unless of course said developer owns Clash of Clans and charges users real money for in-game “gems”, even if the end user doesn’t actually understand that they’re running up their dad’s credit card bill. Click the picture below for more on that mishap.

What I personally think we’ll begin to see more of is personalized branded-content that you’ll actually want to see. While it sounds a little wordy, Snapchat does a really good job at this. They have a branded content section, but instead of just selling the space to the highest bidder, they’re very selective of who gets the space and who doesn’t. With the end user in mind, Snapchat makes sure the branded-content is as interesting and relevant as possible. They make sure that people will actually want to watch the content on their own. Many people in marketing and advertising right now are aware of the following saying: Content is king. You may not notice it unless you’re a marketer, but we’ll all begin to see more branded-content that’s so well produced you may not even notice that there is a brand behind it. This is exactly why Red Bull has such a high level of brand awareness. They do things that are cool. They create cool things. They make you want to watch their “advertisements”. Take this next TV spot for the new Audi Quattro for example. They know that their core target market has a sense for thrill-seeking adventure and beautiful landscapes. What they did next is absolutely goose-bump inducing. Check it out below:

What you can see here is the movement from advertising that consumers are actively avoiding to advertising that makes people actually want to watch it. The secret to being a well-liked company is to simply not tick off a happy customer. It’s really that simple. Instagram? Debatable. Snapchat? Check!

Don’t be the company that gets too invasive with their advertising. It’s not that hard to just develop branded-content that consumers not only enjoy viewing, but also earn an increased level of brand awareness for that particular company.. Customer satisfaction rates go up. Brand awareness goes up. The finance department is happy. Your VP’s give you a raise. All is good. It all starts with content.



Brian Jones is a tech-savvy marketing strategist currently in the Advertising: Account Management Post-Grad program at Humber Lakeshore. Having graduated from University of Guelph in Marketing Management Honours, he works part-time as a content marketer, blogger and web developer for small to medium-sized businesses in various industries. Connect with him on LinkedIn today.

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