Impact- Ads More Consumer Driven

Mass Media and Irrelevant Ads

Before the internet became a household phenomenon, advertisements via television, radio, and print media could generally be considered mass media through which a majority of people attending to these outlets received the same non-customized messages. The result of the mass-ness of such traditional advertising was that viewers received ads from all product segments, resulting in the transmission of many irrelevant, if not contextually ridiculous, ads. For example, a bachelor who comes across a television commercial for Tampax Pearl tampons will unlikely purchase this product for himself, no matter how persuasive the commercial may be.

Escaping the Ad Onslaught

The mass-targeting approach to advertisement resulted in an onslaught of undifferentiated mass advertisements, many of which were not of interest to their receivers. With traditional broadcast media, although commercials were interjected at cliff-hanging, suspenseful moments in sitcoms or movies to keep viewers in their seats, viewers still had the option to leave the room, or to escape ads some other way. The ability to escape ads can be seen in the fact that many viewers would use commercial breaks as an opportunity to go to the bathroom, make a snack, or see what else was on. Later on, this escape attempt was facilitated by technological means. Among other things, consumers installed ad blockers and TiVO to skip through ads. Due to the ever increasing ability and desire to escape mundane ads, advertisers have had to change the way they advertise in order to hang onto their audience.

The Rise of Advertainment

As previously indicated, it was the separation of advertisement from entertainment that made such escape possible. Advertisers have finally developed an ingenious way to prevent potential viewers from skipping ads: they make ads enjoyable entities in themselves (advertainment). Now, instead of passively consuming ads, consumers will actively search for ads. As Monster Media CEO Chris Beauchamp puts it, “the hope is that the element of fun will reduce consumers' sense they are being prompted to buy something. ‘They're having too much fun entertaining themselves’” [4]. Through the integration of advertisement and entertainment, reaching an audience, a task which traditionally has been the most difficult in advertising, can be achieved without any effort beyond creating the actual ad.

Ad Customization

One means of making ads more entertaining for their viewers was to shift from undifferentiated mass ads to customized ads for a targeted audience. The reasoning here is that users with a pre-existing interest in certain content will be more receptive to its ad. Even if preexisting interest in a product is absent, consumers will presumably still have interest in the entertainment aspect of the ad. Therefore, advertisers no longer have to sell a product per se, so much as sell entertainment with the hope that it will sell the product.

Shift from Mass Marketing to Segmentation Marketing Strategy

If one approaches this from a business standpoint, the business model for advertising is shifting from a mass marketing strategy to a market segmentation strategy in which consumers are broken down into segments with similar demographics. This is done so that those within each can be targeted using similar marketing strategies. The result of this is that advertainment ads will be more relevant and enjoyable to their targets. Thus, the shifting economic realities between advertisers and their customers result in the fact that advertisers must better cater to their customers’ interests in order to be successful.

Discovering Customer Desire through Technological Advances

Advertisers are able to target their ads to different consumer segments due to new technological affordances. With television, everyone watching a given channel saw the same thing, as it allowed only for one way transmission. With the internet however, advertisers are able to target individual consumer desires as opposed to sending out mass ads due to the internet’s two-way interface. Targeting consumers has always been an underlying goal, which technological affordances not only advance, but such affordances also allow advertisers to get to know their consumers. This can be done by various means, including monitoring consumers’ click stream to see what interests them, or by administering interactive polls or surveys. Companies such as OpenTracker monitor click streams to gather consumer information that can be mined for consumer preferences [3]. Thus, the technology allows advertisers to uncover what consumers want to see.

Shift from Push to Pull Marketing Strategy and the Power of Consumers

A second shift in the advertising business model is that from push strategy to the pull strategy of marketing. Under the push model, as indicated previously, advertisers barraged customers with ads from many product segments. Now, technological changes have allowed customers to pull advertisements they are interested in towards themselves. These technological advances include computer code, which allows for two-way interaction over the internet, as opposed to the mere one way interaction that was affordable with older technology such as television sets. This is why advertainment has become increasingly critical. The more a consumer believes an ad will be entertaining, the more they will actively search for and view it online. Furthermore, the lack of supply constraints on the internet (i.e. unlimited space to blog, post videos, etc.) allow consumers to create buzz, or hype, about what they like or do not like, by posting comments, promoting videos through linking, or by some other means. Masterful advertainment can create enough buzz to attract many viewers to an ad, who would have otherwise not seen it. These technological affordances allow consumers not only to actively seek out that which they find entertaining, but also to provide marketers with feedback about what they like and dislike. (Note: this is different from the observational method of advertisers monitoring search behavior and click streams mentioned above. In this instance, consumers are actively leaving feedback by publicly promoting or criticizing content from their personal soapboxes.) It has become a virtual norm for consumers to be vocal about their preferences online. Even social networking sites like Facebook have integrated applications for users to designate their favorite things, such as iLike. Lessig comments on these internet norms by saying, “laws, norms, the market, and architectures interact to build the environment that ‘Netizens’ know” [1]. Due to this norm of providing feedback, consumers have greater control over what they see. Their comments not only alert advertisers to their opinions of advertainment, but also other potential customers, which give advertisers further incentive to please consumers. Since consumers are unable to escape advertising, they have embraced it on their own terms: they have demanded the power to dictate what they want to see in ads (i.e. advertainment) if they can’t avoid them.

Further Impact on Consumers

The overarching change resulting from the pull model and advertainment is that the ad is no longer about the product it is advertising, rather, it becomes about the consumers themselves, focusing on their enjoyment and satisfaction [2]. This may have implications on the development of new products in that, if a company has to spend less time promoting the actual products (i.e. they are free from the constraint of keeping ads product-related, giving them more options), they can devote more time to developing their products, which may ultimately increase consumer satisfaction. This ability of consumers to demand and seek out advertainment and to improve their satisfaction with both the ad and the product calls to mind the old adage, “the customer is always right!”

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Works Cited
1. Lessig, L. “What Things Regulate.” (1999). Code, and Other Laws of Cyberspace.
2. Silvers, J. “5 Lessons Learned in Push versus Pull Marketing.” 7 Mar 2007. Blog Bites Man. Retrieved on the World Wide Web at:
3. Skok, G. Establishing a Legitimate Expectation of Privacy in Clickstream Data, 6 Mich. Telecomm. Tech. L. Rev. 61 (2000), available at
4. Stephens, B. “You are the Ad, the Ad is You.” (2007). Las Vegas Business Press. Retrieved from Lexis-Nexis Academic.
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