Digital Marketing

Is Online Clutter Killing Digital Marketing?


Digital marketing is non-negotiable in the modern world, right? For over a decade, this is what we have been told. Marketers and tech expert alike have been insisting that traditional advertising is dead. But according to a compelling piece recently published by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), the scales could be tipping in the other direction. One of the possible reasons behind the trend back to traditional marketing is online clutter.

The HBR piece discusses seven factors explaining why marketers are beginning to shift back toward traditional strategies. The number one item on that list is online clutter. For the record, the piece also cited reliable statistics that clearly show increased spending on traditional marketing and slowed spending in the digital space.

What Constitutes Online Clutter

To understand why online clutter is so bad, we first need to define what it is. A single word lays the foundation: ads. If nothing else, digital marketers and web developers have figured out how to make the internet one large, digital ad space. Consumers have figured it out, too. They are not dumb, and they do not like being bombarded with ads.

Clutter comes in many forms. It is presented as ads viewers are forced to endure before they can watch videos. And by the way, HBR cites statistics suggesting that more than half of all internet users are unhappy about video ads while 43% do not even watch them.

Pop-up ads are annoying enough that your typical consumer uses ad-blocking software to stop them. Then there are all those annoying side bar ads, and the equally annoying banner ads that disrupt the flow of written content. And don’t forget the icing on the cake: the new pop-up windows that accosts internet users whenever they do anything that indicate they might navigate away from a page.

A Place for Information

Consumers have never been big fans of advertising. This is no secret. But generations of us have accepted the idea of advertising on radio and TV. Both media are considered entertainment media. People are willing to be marketed to in exchange for being entertained. The internet is viewed differently.

The internet is a place for information. It is a place to shop and find hard news. It is a place to keep in touch with your friends and family. People want to do all these things without constantly having to deal with advertisements. But because we are bombarded with ad clutter with every online adventure, we have become desensitized to the point of simply ignoring it.

Subtlety Wins the Day

It is clear from the statistics in the HBR post that marketers are turning their attention to traditional strategies once again. There is only one logical reason to do so: their digital strategies are no longer returning the desired results. Marketers are going back to what worked in hopes that it will work again.

Does that mean digital marketing is dead? No, not at all. But it is changing. At Webtek Digital Marketing in Salt Lake City, UT and Austin, TX, they suggest a more subtle approach. Digital marketing works best when the emphasis is on high quality, relevant content and effective SEO.

Furthermore, brands should focus their digital marketing efforts more on lifestyle branding and less on direct selling. The lifestyle strategy is a more subtle way to market without letting consumers know they are being marketed to.

The marketing scales are tipping back toward traditional marketing strategies. That much is clear from the data. Meanwhile, if digital marketers aren’t careful, the amount of clutter they are putting online will ultimately kill their very livelihood.

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