With a plethora of connected devices available in the market and our lives becoming increasingly mobile and digital, access to different forms of content available online is pretty much instantaneous and unlimited.
There is too much content to choose from, leaving consumers struggling to select what to read, watch or listen to or simply just notice. Coupled with very limited time and short attention spans in a content heavy and crowded digital space, this makes it very hard for advertisers to be noticed, registered and remembered.
We wanted to get more insight into how audiences were shifting in this new content era. Our comprehensive study has identified a fast-growing group we’ve labelled the Unbound Audience – a group that actively rejects traditional media, spanning mainstream audiences from Generation Z to Baby Boomers. Our findings revealed how consumers navigate this crowded and often overwhelming space, and more importantly, what implications it has for content producers, distributors and advertisers.
Living in an Unbound Audience world
The Unbound Audience is shrewd when it comes to marketing activity and advertising. They can recognise innovative marketing techniques such as sponsored content and they are fully aware it is a brand speaking to them and willing to accept it if content is relevant. We found more than half questioned (55 per cent) of the Unbound Audience will happily accept adverts. Nevertheless this acceptance often comes at a cost to brands. This audience knows they can trade some of their time and attention in exchange for free content, with our study revealing nearly two thirds (64 per cent) agreeing that online advertising is fine if the content is free.
The Unbound Audience, identified in this study already forms a sizeable part of our society and is only going to grow in the future. They are heavy media consumers but a lot harder to reach with traditional print or TV advertising campaigns as most of their media consumption is in a digital format.
Programmatic advertising, which offers algorithm-driven targeting and adaptability to the context of websites visited at any given time, seems like a perfect, cost effective solution to reach them. However, this type of marketing doesn’t come without any flaws. The problem with algorithm driven advertising content is that it can be repetitive and monothematic for the target audience. And the last thing the Unbound Audience wants to see is something that is no longer relevant to them.
The Ad-blocker Debate
Another challenge to advertisers is the widespread usage of ad-blockers among the Unbound Audience, with over half of them (55 per cent) banishing ads with ad blocking software on their laptops.
At the same time, our study shows that approximately a third (31 per cent) of the Unbound Audience use ad-blocking on their smartphones so there is still a sizable opportunity to reach them through well targeted and executed mobile first campaigns.
The Unbound Audience may not be the easiest group to market to but effective engagement with this group can be very rewarding for brands. We found that two thirds (66 per cent) of the Unbound Audience happily share online recommendations for the latest things in media and culture, this group clearly have a high potential to act as influencers for many brands.
We know that the Unbound Audience has simple goals, they want tailored content to meet their needs. Therefore, we know that advertising campaigns with more weight on traditional media such as TV and Print in the mix will struggle to reach and engage this audience. From this research it is becoming clearer and clearer that blatant and repetitive digital ads will most likely be blocked or avoided.
Reaching this audience requires clever, well targeted and mobile optimised campaigns combined with influencer marketing. It’s time all media outlets sit up and really think about their campaigns so they do not get left behind.