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ADVERTISING CLUTTER AND CONSUMER APATHY

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  • Thninketh Labs, Chennai, India

Abstract and Figures

The growing Consumer apathy to mindless advertising clutter, and efforts of over enthusiastic producers to position their products by creating a ‗niche‘ in the already crowded space in the Consumer minds, is quite apparent. Consumers were always able to avoid mass media advertising, and today, advertising avoidance becomes increasingly easy. Televisions have remote controls, many people watch only shows that were recorded earlier so the commercials can be skipped, or many broadcast services are now by subscription and commercial-free. Yet it appears that the advertisers' "solution" to audience avoidance of their messages is to increase the number of messages, so even the effort of commercial avoidance becomes a source of audience frustration. Advertising writers say that the solution is more creative advertising that breaks out from the advertising clutter. They are partially right, since the problems of clutter are compounded when the exact same, dull message is seen multiple times within the same vehicle. But for advertisers, they need to realize that a less cluttered environment is worth more money. A sponsored vehicle with a greatly reduced number of advertising messages means that each message would have a greater impact, assuming they provide information that the audiences would like to receive. People throw out direct mail messages because it is irrelevant to them; spam is the plethora of email you'd never want to read. The solution for clutter is for advertisers to be willing to pay the price for messages surrounded by less of it.
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ADVERTISING CLUTTER AND CONSUMER APATHY
Dr. K. R. Subramanian
Independent Consultant & Professor of Marketing
SYNOPSIS
The growing Consumer apathy to mindless advertising clutter, and efforts of over enthusiastic
producers to position their products by creating a ‗niche‘ in the already crowded space in the
Consumer minds, is quite apparent. Consumers were always able to avoid mass media advertising,
and today, advertising avoidance becomes increasingly easy. Televisions have remote controls,
many people watch only shows that were recorded earlier so the commercials can be skipped, or
many broadcast services are now by subscription and commercial-free. Yet it appears that the
advertisers' "solution" to audience avoidance of their messages is to increase the number of
messages, so even the effort of commercial avoidance becomes a source of audience frustration.
Advertising writers say that the solution is more creative advertising that breaks out from the
advertising clutter. They are partially right, since the problems of clutter are compounded when
the exact same, dull message is seen multiple times within the same vehicle. But for advertisers,
they need to realize that a less cluttered environment is worth more money. A sponsored vehicle
with a greatly reduced number of advertising messages means that each message would have a
greater impact, assuming they provide information that the audiences would like to receive.
People throw out direct mail messages because it is irrelevant to them; spam is the plethora of
email you'd never want to read. The solution for clutter is for advertisers to be willing to pay the
price for messages surrounded by less of it.
Key words: consumer apathy, advertising clutter, audience avoidance, sponsored vehicle, spam,
plethora of messages, viral marketing,
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INTRODUCTION
Five years ago, a customer had to be ―touched‖ 6-7 times with your marketing before they would
buy from you, trust you. Today, with the monumental increase in advertising, a customer has to
be touched 12-14 times before they make a buying decision. What‘s caused the huge increase?
Naturally - the internet. Internet advertising alone has jumped 6,381% since 1997. More than
6,000 display ads were delivered to U.S. internet users during the 3rd quarter of 2010 and over 5
trillion ads per year.
By the time a person today reaches 65, they have seen over 2 million commercials. That‘s the
equivalent of watching advertising 7 days a week, 8 hours a day for 6 straight years. (Time to
turn off the TV) And. some stats show that only 14% believe marketing, anyway.
So, is your marketing being seen? Or is it lost in the noise of advertising?
Fig 1: The rising Advertising clutter
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In addition to being a problem for marketers trying to reach their customers, advertising clutter
is also a topic of research by people in other fields. Some sociologists and psychologists are
interested in the way advertising shapes social attitudes, and they examine advertising clutter to
learn more about how advertising contributes to the way people think, act, and behave. It is also
an aesthetic concern in some regions, as seen in cities where some forms of advertising, such as
billboards, have been restricted in the interest of keeping communities more beautiful.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Television commercial breaks are longer and the commercials are shorter, so there are more spots
appearing per break. Even after time-shifting favorite television programs, the zapping of the
increasing quantity and length of commercial breaks gets tedious. Broadcast radio often seems to
have more advertising than entertainment or news, sending the formerly captive audiences of
automotive commuters to satellite radio, prerecorded music and the less-than-safe alternative of
talking on a cell phone. Magazines have multiple pages of advertising before you even get to the
table of contents while newspapers' free-standing inserts alone fill their own recycling box. Often
you open a newspaper to see the first page: a full page commercial advertisement!
This increasing advertising-to-programs ratio is really a function of simple media economics.
With the decline of the former mass media into more segmented and targeted options, the total
audience size of even the largest vehicles is greatly reduced. With smaller audiences, the vehicles
need to sell more time or space to make the same amount of money. And yet, if the clutter were
less, each message would have greater impact and the advertisers should be willing to pay more
per audience member reached, assuming it is well targeted. Too many advertising plans make the
purchase of time or space done by little more than counting the size of audiences instead of
considering the thoughts and desires of consumers (Miller 2004). Demographic data remain the
predominant basis for how vehicles' audiences are defined, despite them being poor predictors of
how audiences think or act in the marketplace. And even the numbers available are not used.
Most newspaper advertising appears run-of-paper, without regard for which audiences read each
section, while many broadcast and cable commercials are placed run-of-schedule on a variety of
stations or programs whose total audiences are an agreed upon size but may or may not be
potential consumers for the advertisers' products.
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But aside from issues of vehicle selection, the quantity of commercials alone creates the feeling of
overwhelming mass media spam. As noted, the problem is increasing but not necessarily new. The
audience complaints and advertiser persuasion problems of message clutter with repetitive
messages was frequently criticized by Howard Gossage from the mid-1950s to his death in 1969.
SO, WHAT DOES ADVERTISEMENT DO OR SAY?
Amongst the sea of communication channels hitting the consumer constantly, the actual message
usually gets lost. Many a times, the possibility of the right message reaching the right target is
also dwindled, not ruling out the fact that this has a direct impact on the costs shelled out for
such activities.
Unlike the mass media, SMS enables micro targeting, which ensures that there is no spillover of
the communication. The use of this medium also allows the consumer to react to the
communication on the spot, which helps measure the effectiveness of the campaign. Then there is
always the option to explore the possibility of this medium being used to propagate word-of-
mouth. Every single target that the communication is being sent to carries the potential to be the
originator of a new chain of targets. It just depends on how interesting and action-provoking the
message designed is for the chain to remain continual.
SMS has graduated from a mere add-on service into a communication channel alongside voice
calls in India. Media players too have picked up the pulse and are using this medium for many of
its unique advantages. Radio Mirchi broke new grounds in FM Radio interactive programming
by auctioning a date with Kareena Kapoor. Listeners had to SMS their bid to 8888. The auction
could be played by anyone with an access to a mobile phone. The bidding for the lunch date began
with Rs 5,000 and on the first day of the two-day auction, there were already more than 1,800
responses and the bid has crossed Rs 85,600 in Mumbai alone. The proceeds of the auction were
donated to Nav Nirman Foundation, a home for the poor, addicts and the mentally challenged.
The solution for advertising might be to turn back the clock, to a time of sponsorships and fewer
commercials. When Gossage first started writing, the main form of television advertising was
program sponsorship, though use of 60-second spots was growing. By the time of his death, spots
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replaced sponsorships as the main type of broadcast purchase and the 30-second spot started to
supplant the 60 as the common length for a television commercial, but prime time network
programs had only eight or nine minutes of advertising per hour. Today the commercial breaks
have gone from four per hour to five or six, with many spots running 15 seconds.
HOW DO PEOPLE COMBAT CLUTTER?
Advertising clutter is a term used to refer to the very high volume of Advertising; people are
exposed to, on a daily basis. It can be difficult for advertisers to cut through the clutter to reach
potential consumers. New methods of advertising are constantly being developed in an attempt to
stay ahead of the curve in the advertising world. Innovative and aggressive approaches to
advertising are expected from most advertising agencies as it can be difficult to reach people with
conventional means. The number of individual messages people are exposed to on a given day
varies, but generally people hear advertisements on the radio, see them on television and in print
publications, interact with them online, and sometimes receive them in their mailboxes. Many of
these contacts are very brief. Consumers can be overwhelmed by the volume of advertising
material they see every day and ads that rise above the clutter will stand out.
Understanding the role of advertising clutter in the way consumers engage with advertising is
important. People developing ad campaigns must think about issues like clutter and how to reach
their target demographic. Researchers study the way different groups of people interact with
advertising and take note of ads that stand out in given demographics, using this information in
the development of advertising strategies. Failure to research a particular demographic well and
find out how to reach that demographic can have costly consequences for advertisers, such as
campaigns that flop when released into the marketplace.
Since people are spending more time away from home, marketers are spending more money on
bringing TV to you: in shopping malls and in grocery stores. There's even an Auto-net in auto
repair shops, and of course, advertising reaches people on computers and movie screens. To reach
people, advertisers have had to get much more creative digitally inserting virtual products within
shows and even video games -- making them part of the entertainment instead of a break from the
entertainment.
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THE CHALLENGE OF OVERCOMING CONSUMER APATHY
Unsolicited text messages, web page banners while browsing the mobile Internet and banner ads
on idle screens… These formats still constitute the most predominant types of mobile advertising
that mobile phone users are exposed to today, and are largely initiatives based on formats from
the online world of advertising. For mobile operators, this highlights the risk of alienating their
subscribers if mobile advertising is not handled properly. However, where user benefits are
tangible, ads highly targeted and delivered in a non-intrusive manner, the potential for
generating revenues from mobile advertising remains significant. In addition to incremental
revenue opportunity for an operator, the service can also serve as a customer retention tool,
through the perceived delivery of value to end-users. For advertisers, the attractiveness of this
medium undoubtedly lies in the immediacy, cost effectiveness and increased engagement. With
the increasing adoption of smart phones, a number of mobile advertising firms have emerged in
the full screen display segment.
The mobile advertising market continues to draw a lot of buzz and excitement with so many
initiatives being launched in the industry, however to realise the full potential of this market
segment, ensuring advertising is done properly remains the major challenge for mobile operators.
These developments mean an increase in the opportunity for mobile advertisingand an increase
in spending. Thanks to the power of the internet, advertising is becoming less wasteful and its
value more measurable By contrast, the new advertising models based on internet technologies
amount to innovation. The idea is based on consumers themselves taking the initiative by
showing up voluntarily and interacting with what they find online.
Because this advertising model is so lucrative, all internet portals want to catch up with Google.
Then Microsoft, which owns MSN, another large internet portal, built ad-Center, its version of a
―monetisation engine‖, which has now replaced Yahoo! as the advertising system for searches on
MSN. In addition, eBay, the largest auction site on the web, has a version called Ad-Context.
Nonetheless, pay-per-click remains much more efficient than traditional marketing for many
advertisers. It is the fastest-growing segment of the online advertising market (see chart).
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Fig 2: The Power of search engine optimization
Meanwhile, Mr. Gross, almost famous from his first innovation (and not at all bitter that Google
got most of the credit), is once again busy pursuing what he considers the ―Holy Grail‖ of
advertisingthe complete elimination of Wanamaker waste. He calls this cost-per-action, or
CPA, although he means cost-per-sale, and says that it ―just makes too much sense‖ not to catch
on. His start-up this time is called Snap.com, a small search engine. An airline, say, that
advertises on Snap's search results would pay not when a consumer clicks on its link but only
when he buys a ticket. Google, which is researching almost all conceivable advertising methods,
also has plans for CPA. Its new Google Checkout, an online payments system set up to rival
eBay's PayPal, will allow Google to know more about how many users who click on one of its
advertisements subsequently go on to complete a purchase.
CUT THROUGH CLUTTER AND CONSUMER APATHY
Marketing clutter refers to the very high volume of advertising messages that the average
consumer is exposed to on a daily basis. "We've gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day
back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today." Jay Walker-Smith, Yankelovich Consumer
Research. Even if people do happen to cast their eyes on your advertising messages, whether they
actually take any notice or process the information is a different matter.
So, how do you get noticed in the crowded modern marketplace?
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1. Engage with customers emotional or practical needs
Certain themes strike an emotional chord with the vast majority of the population. These wide
appealing subjects can be used in marketing to make the message strike a personal note while
generating interest with the widest possible audience. Examples of such themes include love,
money, health, career, hopes and dreams. The features and benefits of a product are usually the
focus of practical advertising, and although these may not be as exciting as more emotive subjects,
they can appeal equally well to the customer if executed correctly.
2. Use media effectively
Mass media such as TV, billboards, radio and posters are all completely saturated with marketing
messages and competition is high, and this makes them costly. Media space is usually priced
depending on the number of people who are likely to see your advertisement, however it's much
more important to be noticed by the right people rather than simply playing a numbers game.
3. Fight dirty try new approaches to promotion
Innovative approaches to marketing are evolving every day but these are some of the most
popular:
Guerrilla marketing is a term for the most daring approaches to advertising. Many ideas
have been tried, including illuminating buildings, sponsoring car, or even sky diving into
a stadium with a branded parachute. Possibility for PR exposure is high.
Experiential marketing involves physical interaction with individuals using live events.
If done well, these can be the most powerful marketing medium so are well worth
considering.
Viral ads require clever thinking and a fair amount of luck but a successful viral can
bring vast amounts of attention to a business or product. Ensure the ad is humorous,
shocking or likely to generate strong opinions.
Gaining exposure is great but you need to generate sales, so when designing a campaign consider
things from the customer's point of view.
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4. Ensure the message is obvious and easy to achieve
If people do take notice of you, it is vital that your message is clear. Consider the next steps you
would like the potential customer to take, whether this is dialing a number, visiting a website or
even turning on their Bluetooth. Make it obvious what you're offering and make it as easy as
possible for customers to achieve the goal, which this means looking at your internal processes.
Even the best produced adverts can fall on deaf ears if the message isn't clear and appealing.
5. Appealing to Senses
Another clever way to stand out is by engaging a consumer's senses through touch, smell, sound
and sight. These strategies are most often implemented in high traffic areas such as airports, or
at retail locations and kiosks. Create extra large and visually appealing images or models of your
product. Engage consumers with touchpad computer screens, where they can move objects around
and play with certain features. Make the experience enjoyable so they remember your product or
company name.
6. Selective Retention
Selective retention on the part of consumers can be achieved by repeating your advertising
messages and associated images so people remember them, according to marketing experts at
Hausman Market Research. To be effective, consumers who are most likely to use your products
must be targeted either by age, income, certain personality traits, beliefs or lifestyles. Create
messages that appeal to your target audience. Include in your content key benefits consumers can
gain by using your products or services. Repeat those messages often through various media,
including print and the Internet. Use unique slogans or catchphrases that stress key benefits.
Make it easy for people to recognize your advertisements with logos, characters or jingles.
7. Advertising on Popular Objects
You can also cut through the clutter by advertising on ubiquitous vehicles or objects seen by the
public such as taxicabs, buses, restroom walls, subway tunnels and parking lot stripes or blocks.
Consumers are often more captive and attentive when in transit or standing around idly. They are
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also continuously exposed to your ads, which can make your brand or company more
recognizable. Advertise on objects or locations within your trade area. However, stay within your
advertising budget, and always test these ads on a small scale to determine effectiveness and
profitability.
8. Understanding the new connected generation today
How are consumers changing today? The diversity of today's technology had given consumers an
exceptional capability to decide what they want to view and not to view (Jaffe, 2005). Thus, with
the ever-growing change, there is a need to understand the mind of the consumer today as it is no
longer an advertiser telling consumers what brand they should purchase but more to consumer
deciding which brand to choose. Advancement in digital technology that results in the change in
consumption patterns in consumer today
9. Addressing consumers' short attention for effective advertising communication
The consumer's short attention span was something, which the advertising industry has been
looking into. This could indicate getting an image to the consumer's attention had become shorter
than before due to the immense exposure of all the media that had been available in the present
day. Hence, it is very important to choose the one thing to be conveyed due to the time limitation.
In particular of the television commercial field, there is no doubt that there was a shift in the
commercial trend in order to address the short attention span issue as well. In the early days, all
the commercials were 60 seconds long before the 30-second spots were introduced which then
brought about the availability of 15-second and 10-second spots as well (White, 2003). Hence, the
shrinking attention span of the consumers introduces the shortening of commercial length.
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Fig 3: Overcoming impact of shorter attention span
Commercials that are shorter than 30-seconds are embedded with surprise value way before
commercial-haters can do something about it, while those that last longer than 30 seconds are
more towards story-telling in a bid to appeal to the consumer (Elliott, 2005). Thus, this could
show how the industry tried their means and ways to get the message across to the consumer in
order to address short attention span for an effective advertising communication.
10. Consumers' response to advertising appeal and tone
Engaged in consumer's emotions is a powerful tool in advertising where it allows no cogent
reason for them to purchase product that they do not need. (Danziger ). This is because
consumers make purchase decision at an emotional level where they are highly receptive to,
without being consciously aware of what is happening. (Danziger). As a result, this could result
that for every advertisement, with an input of emotion, it stands a higher chance of appeal to the
consumer as consumers usually make buying decision at an emotional level.
CONCLUSION
For consumers Advertising clutter may turn out to be the biggest challenge of the present times.
The kids in ―Generation Y‖—young people who tend to be adept at using media, constantly online
and skepticalare increasingly immune to the clichés of prime-time television and radio and
mentally tune out these nuisances. Online, however, they may accept advertising, if it is
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unobtrusive, relevant and fun. As they take some action to invite the advertisement, they may
even find it useful.
The concern among media people, of course, is that an increased number of ads vying for a
viewer‘s attention; means that each advertisement becomes less effective in getting its message
across. A viewer‘s ability to recall an advertisement goes down by about 45 percent, for example,
in commercial breaks with seven or more spots compared to breaks with three or fewer
(According to a report from Nielsen Media Research and the Cable television Advertising
Bureau).
In reality, the solution for advertising might be to turn back the clock, to a time of sponsorships
and fewer commercials. Advertising writers say that the solution is more creative advertising that
breaks out from the advertising clutter. They are partially right, since the problems of clutter are
compounded when the exact same, dull message is seen multiple times within the same vehicle.
But for advertisers, they need to realize that a less cluttered environment is worth more money.
People throw out direct mail messages because it is irrelevant to them; spam is the plethora of
email you'd never want to read.
The solution for clutter is for advertisers to be willing to pay the
price for messages surrounded by less of it.
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VOLUME - 3, ISSUE- 6 (June 2015) IF-4.316 ISSN: (2321-1709)
A Monthly Double-Blind Peer Reviewed Refereed Open Access International e-Journal - Included in the International Serial Directories.
GE- International Journal of Management Research (GE-IJMR)
Website: www.aarf.asia. Email: editoraarf@gmail.com , editor@aarf.asia
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WEB REFERENCES
1. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4189025
2. www.myuniverse.co.in/ Zip SIP
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