How many ads would you say you have seen on the Internet in the past 20 minutes? And how many of those ads do you remember?
Depending on what kind of sites you frequent, you could be viewing anywhere from 10 to 100 ads in that time period (my estimate, based on my experience). That's a lot. Especially considering we spend hours and hours on the Internet every day. And even when we aren't on the computer we are surrounded by ads. On TV, on billboards, and now even on our cell phones. You show me a physical or virtual setting and I will show you where there can be ads. (I wrote about this trend in a previous post: Starbucks cups sponsored by American Express).
From a consumer's perspective its just annoying. We don't want to see ads everywhere we look. But traditionally this idea of throwing up ads wherever they fit has worked. Even if we think ads are annoying, if we see an ad for a product or service that we need, we usually pay attention.
But ads are no longer penetrating our conscious like they used to. We are now exposed to so many ads that consumers are becoming desensitized to advertising. Especially on the Internet where ads are universally associated with spam, we see any ad and automatically categorize it as unwanted and forgettable. The over saturation of ads in the online marketplace means that each additional ad diminishes the value of the collective whole.
What does this mean for businesses who want to advertise online? Well, you have to create a competitive advantage on one of two fronts: content or placement. Your ads have to be "special" in what they display, or where they are displayed. Otherwise, your ads will become one of the 10-100 we ignore every 20 minutes we browse the web.
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