Mar 14 2019
Kristin Furjanic

Advertising Needs to Give Consumers More of a Choice


Advertising has been around since the beginning of time. While it’s evolved as technology has come into the forefront of our lives, its intent has always been the same: to convince people they need something so badly, they can't live without it. As time has passed, though, consumers have caught on to marketing tricks.

Due to increased consumer knowledge, companies have been forced to adjust the ways they approach their audiences. After all, if brands don't listen to buyers' needs, rest-assured - their competitors will.

How Did GDPR Change the Way Companies Operate?

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into play in May 2018, it was a game-changer as far as advertising was concerned. This was the first time a unified set of strict rules was put in place to govern how people's data was used. The regulation also offered ways for consumers to easily opt out of communications if they disagreed with marketers' intentions.

Ad blockers simply weren't enough for online audiences anymore. They called for greater security with less effort and demanded control of the way their personal data was being used. Only a month before GDPR went live, the famous Cambridge Analytica scandal occurred. It was discovered that some 50 million Facebook users' personal information had been facilitating marketers' tactics for years, unbeknownst to the social site's users.

This was a turning point for consumers and advertisers alike. Consumers stopped allowing their personal data to be used as marketers began implementing more secure measures of protecting their privacy. Businesses worldwide were forced to respond by formulating new marketing strategies, driven by transparency. Reputable companies own the responsibility of keeping users' data safe and secure.

How Some Advertisers Use Manipulative Tactics

Advertising is built on emotional responses to certain images, phrases, or actions. It's not inherently bad, but some manipulative tactics are so subliminal, people don't even realize their decisions are being swayed.

When you were little, the candy at the checkout counter elicited an emotional response and made you feel like you needed that sugar right then and there. The same is true for trinkets strategically placed at the register, that are meant to incite impulse buys. This is similar to what happens with digital advertising, but online marketing takes a layer deeper.

Manipulative advertising is intended to take rationale out of the picture. Instead, it relies solely on emotions to justify buying behavior. When you're not prepared to think, decorative words can go a long way in convincing you to do something.

How Consumers Can Combat Bad Advertising Behaviors

People need to think logically rather than emotionally. Once people recognize the tricks used to elicit feelings instead of thoughtful buying processes, they can break the cycle of bad advertising behaviors.

  • Be wary of your emotional response, and know that you can have a good online experience.
  • Watch for indirect marketing that's directly targeted at you.
  • Implore the use of ad blockers. Ad blockers are the best way to stave off unwanted pop-up ads that are built to provoke unplanned responses.

Consumer expectations in today's world demand more. People want increased personalization in their advertisements, but they mandate better privacy in their interactions with companies with which they consider doing business. As a marketer, your job is to instill confidence in your audience while finding ways to use online data the right way.