Why Ads Should Reward Buyers, Not Interrupt Them

Is advertising thriving? Nope. In its current state, the industry is heading toward doom.

Back in the Mad Men days, advertising was glamorized. Agencies were lauded for their brilliance and ability to determine what was popular in the market. For proof, take a look at the history of diamond ring advertising. Before an agency took control, few folks even thought twice about the stones. One campaign changed the way the world proposed.

Then the switch flipped.

TiVo emerged, enabling viewers to fast-forward past commercials. AdBlock rose in popularity, allowing surfers to erase ads from web pages. Now, gamers opt for premium apps over their free counterparts, so they don’t have to click out of interstitials in between levels.

We’re literally paying to remove advertising as an industry. As advertisers, this means that we have to alter our approach – and fast.

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Image: Flickr/Sonny Abesamis

To adjust our current path, let’s take a look at where we fail and where we succeed.

The Failures

We’re not revolutionizing metrics.

As of now, digital is bought primarily through cost-per-impression and cost-per-click. The industry has an obsession with frequency.

The harsh reality is that people get annoyed with the constant interference. This barrage hurts brand favorability, so likewise, publishers are getting paid to hurt your brand. Instead, we need to change the incentives around engagement.

We’re still using the same window.

We have access to all the data on the planet. Yet we’re stuck using the same formulas. Banners have abysmal click-through-rates and have created the issue of banner blindness. Freezing interstitials are intrusive. Native – often seen as the least annoying option – isn’t evolving creatively.

We need to view ads as a new mechanism for interaction. It’s not enough to know the pixel size of an ad; we need to consider the meaning behind it. Let’s give ad units a third dimension.


“We need to change the incentives around engagement.


The Successes

We’re innovating automation and relevance.

Improved data enables brands to target their audiences better than ever before. If people opt-in, Facebook gives brands access to your interests so they can reach you with products and services you actually like. Criteo, a “personalized retargeting company,” delivers ads based on what sites you’ve visited. And beacons can track your location to better serve information.

This access to data allows brands to show relevant content to the right psychographics.

We’re spending more money on new media.

Compare digital’s budget from 10 years ago to now. It’s clear we’re making strides. Facebook’s ad monetization model is indicative of this, but it’s still in a primitive stage. We need to advance beyond tools for app installs and give brands a way to utilize this new media to connect with their buyers on an emotional level.

We’re creating increasingly inventive ads.

Chevy’s latest ad made waves by running digital video inside of print.

At Cannes last year, Nivea won the Grand Prix for a makeshift wearable. Targeted at young mothers spending time on Rio de Janiero’s busiest beach, a strip of the magazine ad tears off into a bracelet, activated by your smartphone. The bracelet tracks up to a limited distance, so moms could keep an eye on their kids from afar.

And who could forget Moto X’s interactive print ad. The featured phone changed colors when readers played with the corresponding buttons.

This creativity – this playfulness – is where we flourish. We just need to bring this energy into an era filled with new mediums and more expansive capabilities.

The Predictions

In the end, I see room for brands to grow and evolve — to invent a new permission. By respecting the consumer relationship, we’ll embrace real-time needs addressing to deliver the right content at the right time to the right person. Advertising will become highly targeted and relevant.

This will exist on all forms of digital, from mobile to connected devices.

Consider, for a moment, how advertising should look.

  • When you log a completed workout on a fitness app, Propel congratulates your hard work with a free sample of its fitness water to replenish your system.
  • When your produce is about to spoil, your smart refrigerator will compensate you with a coupon for your next trip to the grocery store.
  • When your infant is developing a fever, Pacif-i, a Bluetooth-enabled pacifier that monitors baby temperatures, will offer parents a free sample of medicine.

These aren’t interruptions into your digital activity. They’re welcoming messages from brands who genuinely want to improve consumer lives.

Kiip first ignited this metamorphosis when it pioneered rewards four years ago. But I know there’s still much more we can explore, on mobile and beyond.


Kiip redefines how brands connect with consumers through moment-based rewards. Rewards increase engagement and purchase intent, and 84 percent of mobile users say they prefer rewards over ads.

Hundreds of brands already use Kiip. To learn more, visit kiip.me/brands.

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