Don’t Contribute To The 89% Of Ads That Go Unnoticed

It's Better To Make Annoying Ads than Forgettable Ads

Ignoring the Ad
••• Ignoring the Ad. Getty Images

Are your ads being seen by the right people? Or, to be more accurate, are they being seen at all? You may be surprised. A recent study revealed that of all the ads made each year, 89% go unnoticed, 7% are disliked and 3% are liked (the other 1% was made up anomaly answers).

That's quite a stunning statistic, which Dave Trott talks about at length in a series of Vimeo lectures (called The Art of Persuasion) here.

Watch every part if you can.

Now, in a profession filled with experts, and billions upon billions of dollars being spent every year, is it reasonable that only 10% of the ads made are actually different enough to be remembered? And of those, only 3% are liked?

Planners and advertising agencies know that a lot of this is down to client compromise. The best ideas don't get out of the building because clients want safe, and creative want dangerous. But the problem is actually a lot simpler than having a "come to Jesus" meeting. It all has to go back to basics.

What Is The Purpose of Advertising?

Here are six statements about advertising. Study them carefully and then decide which of them are correct, and which are wrong:

1) Advertising must sell a product or service

2) Advertising must be interesting

3) Advertising must be liked

4) Advertising must be memorable

5) Advertising must win awards

6) Advertising must be relevant

If you picked one or two, you're incorrect. If said all of them, you're also incorrect. While having all six would be nice, it's not the name of the game. Yes, it must sell, should be interesting, ideally be liked (although hated can work wonders), be memorable, and relevant. Awards are good for the agency, but mean nothing to consumers.

However, the list is missing something, and it's the most important reason advertising exists: 

Advertising MUST Get Noticed.

It's imperative. There is no point at all in making a wonderful ad if no one notices it. And as for being liked, who cares? Getting noticed is important, not winning a popularity contest. And once you get noticed, make sure your ad is memorable and sells the product of service.

Winning awards should always be an afterthought. They are rewards for a job well done. If the ad didn't get noticed, it certainly shouldn't get an award, even if it's a thing of beauty. And even relevancy can take a back seat. The famous ad for Cadbury's featuring a gorilla playing the drums, well, it's silly. It really has nothing to do with chocolate. But it could not be ignored. And sales went up.

Being well liked is terrific. Yes, it's always great to make a video that goes viral and gets a million hits. It's cool to have one of those superbowl ads that people gush over at the water cooler. But how many people gush over a print ad, or radio spot? How many billboards make people chat over the evening meal.

In those cases, the advertising has to forget about being liked, and start with the most basic need to satisfy: get people to notice the ad.


How Do You Create Advertising That Gets Noticed?

First and foremost, advertising that's not bland and vanilla, or trying to get across too many messages, will succeed. It may not be liked, but it will at least avoid the 89% of ads that no one cares about.

Here are three other ways that your advertising can stay out of that 89%:

1: It's uncompromising. Ads that take a stand and have a point get noticed. Ads that are victims of compromise, or suffer cut after cut, will quickly become banal. So don't give in on a great idea. Don't mix two ideas together, or remove the teeth from a great campaign. Stick to your guns, it will pay off.

2: It's focused. As Dave Trott has said many times, if you throw 10 balls at someone they'll catch one. If you want them to catch the right one, just throw one ball.

And that means keep your message clear and direct. For example; drink more milk; save water; test-drive a BMW.

3: It's bold. That means brave, not necessarily risky. But in actuality, risks are less risky than not taking risks. If you decide to play it safe, you're already dooming the ads to failure. Risks get noticed. Safe puts your firmly in the 89%. Risky ads may not be liked, or even relevant (cavemen for insurance? ), but they will attract attention.