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People Hate Advertising — Can We Blame Them?

A piece in today’s New York Times (subscription required) examines new Forrester research that contends, in essence, that advertising is dead.

The article hones in on the routine opting out of advertising messages by today’s most sought after consumers — the young.

Perhaps they’re not opting out of advertising messages as much as they’re saying no to a barrage of irrelevant, inauthentic messages adding zero value to their lives. Who can blame them, really?

They’re used to conducting conversations on messaging platforms and in social media. They’re used to having direct one to one conversations with companies on Twitter. And they’re focused on having their head buried in their mobile devices — experiencing life one app at a time.

So what does this have to do with local? A whole lot, I’d say. Local is what defines our physical experience — even our physical existence.

If advertisers can’t figure out how to make their messages relevant to me as I sit on my phone drafting this post in the Astor Ballroom on the 7th floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel — then the industry is destined to fail. I mean, really. How hard can it be for an advertiser to figure out my whereabouts? They’re tracking me day and night.

Here’s the rub though. We as consumers actually want personalized, relevant messages. As I sit here preparing to moderate a panel at Onward19, YEXT’s two-day search festival, I am receptive to messages that understand who I am and where I am. Yet the notion of allowing advertisers to know my location is coming under more and more scrutiny and potential (some say inevitable) government regulation.

As we learned at the LSA’s recent Place Conference, leaders in location-based media are proactively setting the stage for what’s acceptable in location tracking and how to put measures in place to protect all of us. This is a wise move by these companies to define a workable policy before it gets defined for them.

This is all well and good, but for one nagging problem. Most of the panelists at the event said the national brands they interact with have no idea how to leverage location.

Perhaps Forrester’s view of considerable disruption to the advertising industry would be less credible if advertisers took to heart the notion that relevancy, authenticity, and transparency will be the keystones of a viable future for the advertising industry.


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