Are billboards still effective

Advertising's greatest enemy is itself

She's always in her own way - How advertising really works - Part 1

How advertising really works
Starting with this issue, the Allensbach science journalist Wolfgang J. Koschnick writes a series of articles in "Telepolis" about advertising, market communication and the status of research into advertising effectiveness.


If the language turns to advertising, then every man and woman is an expert and knows exactly when, how, where and whether it works at all. Or even when it doesn't work at all: namely with yourself. Advertising only works with others, with the stupid people. You yourself are absolutely unaffected. At least that's what you think.

Even the true communication experts know much less about how advertising works or whether it works at all. You are just saying so; because this is the only way to earn good money with it. In truth, they have little or no idea. Would you pour your customers pure wine and admit: "We can't really say whether it really works in the end. It is more likely that most advertising just sucks without a word. But sometimes it shines really work. "

Then nobody would buy their fabulous advertising strategies from them. And maybe that wouldn't be so bad - except for the advertising freaks. Most of the questions about advertising effectiveness are completely unanswered. Scientists know that, but it has not yet reached the advertising industry and consumers and advertisers.

Should you mess up or should you rather plop? Should one apply particularly thickly and exaggerate profusely, or should one inform soberly and perhaps even truthfully? Do you need massive advertising pressure or, rather, an accurately chiseled target group strategy? Does advertising really sell the last bit of crap with sex, or is that just a common lie? Should one really be emotionally beating the drum or is it more effective to provide purely factual information through advertising? Can you actually deter smokers from smoking with horror images of tarry lungs, or is it not more likely to trigger defiant reactions? Do funny advertisements work better than dust-dry ones?

All these questions and many others are scientifically in principle unanswered. But there are tons of gurus who proudly proclaim that they know exactly how it works. The advertisers in the agencies and the researchers in the market and media institutes tell their customers the blue of the sky to make them believe that they have all advertising effects under control. But they don't at all. You're just lying about it.

Those familiar with the context and serious advertising researchers are pretty much in agreement: You don't know exactly how advertising really works, or at best just roughly.

In principle, all knowledge about advertising amounts to the not exactly breathtaking statement: Yes, there are incredibly ingenious advertising that has a strong impact. You can sometimes recognize ingenious advertising at first glance when you come across it. But most of the advertising is just big shit ... and fizzles ineffectively in the mass of senselessly wasted money.

There can be no general theory of advertising effectiveness

The problem is mainly due to the fact that for a long time it was believed that there was such a thing as a general formula for advertising, just as the natural sciences have long searched for a general world formula that explains everything that holds the world together at its core. Econometric research on the effectiveness of advertising once tried something similar and immediately made the whole econometrics ridiculous ...

There are next to no general rules about the effectiveness of advertising. The only general rule is that there is no general rule. And if there does seem to be a general rule, there are hundreds of exceptions.

A general theory of the effects of advertising cannot even exist based on the logic of the connections; because the effectiveness of advertising depends on a vast number of different influencing factors that interact with each other vividly and from case to case with varying degrees of strength and intensity. In the best case scenario, the models developed by media and advertising research represent excerpts from this network of effects, but not the overall context.

That speaks very well for the fact that every single advertising campaign, every single advertising medium and every advertising activity in general follows individual rules. And that can only mean: The whole approach of all advertising effectiveness research to formulate general rules for processes that do not follow general rules is fundamentally wrong. It comes from a time when it was believed that there was such a thing as a single formula for advertising effectiveness. But in the meantime it is certain that it cannot exist.

A connection between the communicative-psychological effect of advertising and the act of buying is always implicitly assumed, but has not been proven. And even if it can be assumed that there are some connections that cannot be completely dismissed, the correlation between changes in attitudes on the one hand and purchasing behavior on the other hand is low according to the state of the art. Either way, advertising is a weak factor. Only the advertisers themselves and the left-wing cultural critics claim that they seem powerful and manipulate the stupid consumers mercilessly.

Defecation model of the advertising effect: What comes out at the back is the success

The measuring instruments with which complex social issues could be examined are now quite sophisticated. But the advertising industry and market research still prefer to measure with the most primitive equipment: once at the beginning of an advertising campaign and then again at the end. And what comes out in the end is considered a success of the advertising. As an impact model, however, at best it follows the flow of bowel movements ...

In fact, an almost unmanageable number of factors influence the purchasing behavior of consumers, which are not taken into account when measuring the communicative advertising impact - from the weather to the advertising materials used and the general economic situation.

It is hard to imagine enough: Whether advertising has an influence on buying behavior is scientifically not certain - regardless of what the advertisers, advertising agencies or even the media say, all of which have a sustained economic interest in that every man and woman believes that.

Every advertising activity, every advertising measure and every advertising campaign is unique. And in each individual case different rules apply: sometimes a large ad works, sometimes a small ad works even better; sometimes a long spot, sometimes a short one. Sometimes an emotional advertisement, sometimes an informative one. And that is the only really certain truth about advertising and the only really certain finding of all advertising effectiveness research: It always depends ...

However, ignorance of the true context has not prevented the advertising companies and their agencies from drowning consumers in a veritable flood of advertising. However, they did not anticipate the consequences that this would have for themselves: the reluctance of the broadest sections of the population against permanent rain has never been as strong as it is today. And all the signs indicate that it will continue to grow sharply as advertising continues to spread unchecked. In such a case, the social sciences speak of self-destructive momentum: the more a phenomenon spreads, the more it contributes to the fact that sooner or later it disappears completely. The factor driving self-destruction is the phenomenon itself.

There is a deep rift between the advertising industry and consumers: the advertisers and the advertising companies tore it open with their own hands. Now they are amazed that consumers no longer want to see, hear or hear anything from them. Today the gap is deeper than ever and it will continue to break.

If you ask people what gets on their nerves the most in the world, it comes off like a shot: advertising - advertising on television, on the radio, in the cinema, on the Internet, on athletes' jerseys, on shirt collars Gangs in football stadiums, in the streets, on and in trams and buses, in waiting halls, train stations and airports.

With the flood of advertising came first the disenchantment with advertising and then the hatred of advertising

People simply can no longer see them, the many spots, giant posters, advertisements, banners, pop-ups, mailings, inserts, flyers, brochures, which advertise things that people are indifferent to from the bottom of their hearts and that they will never, ever buy - even if it is only out of spite, because the clumsy turn-on steals time and quality of life.

Consumers avoid the constant flood of advertising with a variety of tricks and techniques: switching off, looking away, zapping, zipping, grazing, channel hopping, fetching beer, going to the toilet, fucking during the commercial break, ignoring, pushing away, ad blocking and whatever else there is so everything is there. They behave like the three monkeys who wisely overlook anything bad and see, hear or do nothing bad. In short: a life as far as possible without advertising and without advertising.

But the advertising industry still pretends that none of this is their business, and increases the number of strokes in tumultuous ignorance: even more advertising, even more advertising pressure - meanwhile also in the most remote places and the quietest places: even the toilets are in front of them The obtrusiveness of the advertisements and their shit house slogans are no longer certain.

But what do you achieve with it? They sow intrusive advertisements and reap naked hatred. The audience feels harassed. It doesn't want to be constantly sullied with advertising. It defends itself by fleeing from her or by showing her naked hatred.

In the age of democracy nobody can do without democratic legitimation in the long run. Only advertising claims the special right to incessantly harass majorities and large minorities and wants to be loved for it. It acts as if it does not need the approval of majorities or the acceptance of minorities. Advertising has long since moved away from democratic culture. That happens often in commercial enterprises and would not be tragic. But advertising uses public space to get its message across. If she ignores what the audience thinks of her, it has to catch the eye in the long run.

Advertisers haven't even given a lot of thought to what they can do about annoying a growing number of consumers. They do not have a majority and are fundamentally not democratic. They impose themselves usurpatically. They are, so to speak, the Trumps, the Kims, the Putins, the Erdogans and the Xi Jinpings of the international business world.

Advertising was once considered a high art of communication. Today it has degenerated into the obtrusive siege of a reluctant audience. Just stupid advertising. That can only generate rejection and hatred.

The interruptus has not given anyone any pleasure

You can comfortably watch a funny entertainment program or an exciting crime thriller on TV. But as soon as the plot has grabbed you, a commercial comes along. In the middle. Just when it gets really so exciting. You can't run to the toilet all the time, and there is still plenty of beer. So the commercial is immensely disturbing.

From the point of view of the advertising industry, this seems like a mistake in thinking: How on earth are you supposed to develop a benevolent attitude to an advertised branded item when it breaks your best dreams? Can you even find sympathy for a product that suddenly pulls you out of your TV trance during the most exciting scenes in the film?

Interrupt advertising just pops in there. By the way, on purpose. The stations deliberately interrupt at the most exciting or romantic point because they want to captivate people in such a way that they endure all the annoying advertising so as not to miss the time when it finally continues. They are really mean. They are not really interested in the television audience.

Over time, advertising bombardment has increased tremendously. Years ago it was assumed that the average consumer would somehow come into contact with 3,000 advertising messages in the course of a day, this year it should be 5,000. Some estimates even speak of 10,000 advertising messages per day. The amount of advertising - email, spam, banners, pop-ups, tweets and the like - has almost doubled through the Internet alone. Even the modest 3,000 messages were at least two and a half thousand too many.

Countless studies and studies always have the same result: Advertising on television and elsewhere is extremely annoying - regardless of whether it is block advertising or commercial breaks. But absolutely nothing bothers you as much as commercial breaks in the middle of a film. 80 to 90 percent of TV viewers always or often zap advertisements. Just one to two percent find television advertising attractive: a minority.

Advertise where you don't get sympathy

The numbers fluctuate from year to year, but in terms of magnitude, they remain more or less the same. The annoyance about taking a break becomes a little bigger every year. It can be said with absolute certainty that far more than 50 percent of the 4.75 billion euros that are put into television advertising in Germany alone are wasted pointlessly because they either receive no attention at all or angry hatred of advertising and the generate advertised products.

TV commercials are intrusive. It's annoying because it interrupts people doing something they'd really like to see. A third of the viewers switch to as soon as advertising comes, a quarter are ready to boycott the advertised products, and half of the viewers use the interruptions to leave the room.

Why are the advertisers so unprofessional and continue to advertise completely impassively where you do not show them any sympathy? Where they cannot gain sympathy either? You want to create a favorable mood for your brands. That can't go well in places where hardly anyone wants to know anything about them. They persistently saw the branch on which they are still comfortably seated.

But the advertising industry continues to invest tirelessly and unimaginatively in television advertising and especially in interruption advertising. She would be well advised to use her money more wisely; because nowhere does it create more disenchantment with advertising than here. Yes, it even contributes to the television disenchantment of the audience, if the terrible quality of the program did not contribute even more. Above all, however, it itself has the effect that its own advertising does not reach consumers at all and certainly does not have any positive effect.

Advertisers often believe that all of their advertising has a powerful effect on the audience. If you really believe this, your belief should include annoying advertisements. Advertising that annoys just as easily sticks in the mind or even in the subconscious as pleasing advertising. With every annoying advertisement, the list of brands that are disgraced in the consumer's associations grows. Yes, which cause consumers to suck up. The advertising economy spends a lot of money adding to the masses of people they suck. That is not wise.

A more sensitive solution has now been found in Sweden. If a television station wants to interrupt a feature film with commercials, it needs the express consent of the director. Otherwise he violates their copyrights and interferes in an impermissible way in the personal relationship of the filmmaker to their work.

The rationale for this regulation focuses on the interests of the audience: The interruption of a feature film breaks the holistic experience of a film in two, and the audience runs the risk of losing the thread of the narrative. The interruptions also lead the audience out of the film environment and into other environments and moods created by the commercials.

It's a completely different world. These dramaturgical breaks are made with the intention of drawing the audience's attention away from the film scene and towards commercial messages. That could not be expected of the audience.

Happy Sweden where someone else is interested in what the audience wants ...

The advertisements eat their children

There is one thing that advertisers and their agencies like to keep silent about in a chaste way: There have never been so many people who refuse to advertise as there are today, and their number has been growing for decades. This is a countermovement generated by advertising itself. Advertisers and their advertisers themselves are the main culprit in ensuring that this resistance in the population continues to grow. It is downright a popular movement that rises against the dictatorship of advertising wherever it is possible.

Almost a third of the entire population today either doesn't want to be showered with advertising at all or only very little.In metropolitan areas and larger cities, it is often over 50 percent of all households and sometimes even more. Even in the countryside, the stickers "Please no advertising" are no longer too rare.

The flood of advertisements today took on the force of a tsunami and set in motion a real mass exodus. People are fed up with being bombarded with advertisements all the time, everywhere. There is practically only one place where one can refuse to endure the advertising bombardment with any prospect of success: at home. You can do this with a sticker on your own mailbox "Please no advertising" or via the Robinson list.

How intensely people otherwise defend themselves against too much advertising can only be found out through laborious research. Whether you pay attention to advertisements in newspapers and magazines at all, look at posters, watch one or two commercials while watching TV or listen to the radio - all of this is difficult to determine, especially when the research is carried out by the advertising companies itself is commissioned and it is to be expected that the results will be extremely positive about the incessantly growing enthusiasm for advertising. When in doubt, research can be bought.

This is easier to do if you want to ward off advertising in your own mailbox. There are regular surveys. The proportion of those who refuse to advertise in Germany is now over 30 percent, albeit with highly dramatic regional differences. In the flat country it is significantly lower, in the cities it is significantly higher. Years ago it was "only" 20 percent. All indications suggest that the number of objectors will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Advertising that is stuffed into the mailboxes against the will of the citizens does not work at all, even in the best of cases. But it probably has an extremely negative effect: The anger at advertising is growing. Brochures, catalogs or advertising letters that end up in the mailboxes every day are unprofessional, also from the point of view of the advertiser, because they generate aversion when they are supposed to arouse sympathy.

Every year 1.3 million tons of advertising mail end up in the mailboxes. That is almost two and a half kilograms per month per household. It takes about as much energy to produce a ton of paper as it does to produce a ton of steel. The annual advertising mailings produce as much carbon dioxide as 840,000 cars in a year. More than half of these advertising mailings end up in the garbage unread. A waste of murder ...

In our time of a worldwide flood of advertising, advertising represents an ecological catastrophe. It prints insane amounts of paper that hardly anyone wants to read. Worse still: Which nobody reads objectively. She makes commercials that nobody really wants to watch on TV or in the cinema. She produces radio spots that almost nobody is interested in. Yes, it keeps ad servers ready for online advertising, which use up bandwidth senselessly and which every reasonably savvy Internet user can still suppress with an ad blocker. She plastered entire cityscapes and landscapes with giant posters and billboards that hardly anyone noticed.

Advertising spreads wherever only minorities can tolerate it, but the vast majority reject it. And it consumes a lot of material and resources for something that only interests a small section of the population. Advertising in public places is a filthy form of harassment against majorities by a minority.

Where do private-sector advertisers and their advertisers who only want to sell or otherwise market something derive the right to make themselves known in public and in public places and to force people to advertise a product who are not for it Are you still interested in advertising? Who are not even asked whether they want to see the advertisement at all? On the contrary, they would even be happy and grateful if they weren't bothered in the first place?

One of the largest metropolises in the world, São Paolo, put a stop to it a good ten years ago and almost completely banned advertising in public spaces. Today, Brazil's largest city with its almost 12 million inhabitants and over 20 million inhabitants in the greater region is practically completely free of advertising in public places.

It all started in 2007 as a kind of act of desperation against the total disfigurement of the Brazilian economic and cultural metropolis. Before that, every street corner in São Paulo was paved with illegal billboards and billboards. The "Lei Cidade Limpa" (Law of the Clean City) removed all 15,000 billboards, 1,600 signs and 1,300 giant posters. Neon signs, billboards, flags, signs, logos, even flyers or advertising tubes on taxis and logos on the freight tarpaulins of trucks - none of these exist anymore.

At first there were even violent protests. It was even feared that economic life in the cosmopolitan city would collapse if advertising is no longer allowed. But the enthusiasm of the residents grew from year to year. In the meantime all protest has ceased. Two thirds of the residents think that their city has become more beautiful.

The tenor of the public discussion is clear: Nothing better could have happened to the city. The decision of the city administration has led to a better quality of life. Advertisers and advertisers all over the world have good reasons to keep the example of São Paolo in mind - also as a wallet - this can happen if they continue to spoil entire cities with advertisements. At some point the population has enough and then it is too late.

Today, similarly radical measures are also being discussed in major European cities such as London and Paris, even in Berlin and Cologne. For the time being, the only metropolis that has consistently implemented a ban on outdoor advertising is Grenoble. In 2014, the city was the first European city to drastically restrict advertising in public spaces, similar to São Paolo.

The next city in which a general advertising ban in public space could be enforced is Berlin. Resistance to the undemocratic use of the city centers by the advertising industry is also growing in London, Paris and Stockholm. In Helsinki in 2011 a spontaneous citizens' initiative was formed against the commercial occupation of public space by the private sector.

At the moment there is a legal absurdity: Telephone advertisers are not allowed to bother private households with unwanted calls, but on public streets and squares you can put up advertising posters and neon signs that nobody wants to see but cannot escape. Why do people in public spaces have to endure commercial advertising that they do not have to put up with in their home? As soon as you leave your own four walls, you come across advertising at every turn, plastering the public space.

Everywhere there is opposition to the flood of advertising. There is nothing to suggest that it will wear off. One can only advise advertisers to read the signs of the times at an early stage. Otherwise at some point the development will roll over them as it does over the advertisers in São Paolo ...

Wolfgang J. Koschnick is considered one of the best-informed critics of international advertising research and advertising in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He has written over 50 recognized reference works in the broad field of marketing, management, market communication, advertising and media planning, market, media and social research, with which several generations of young recruits, marketing experts, advertising and media researchers are trained. In doing so, he always retained his independence and a certain controversy. If necessary, he messes with advertisers, advertisers, advertising agencies and other stakeholders without regard to the people, organizations and institutions.

[Link to entry 2433569]The 2nd part of the advertising series:

Great jumping art of the geeks
In order to explain the puzzling connections in their own trade and, above all, to get to the bottom of the facts of the advertising effect, the advertising freaks have undertaken a lot of cerebral gymnastics to summarize in a simple formula how the devil's stuff actually works. The result is a big laugh, which even the less well-to-do in the industry laugh at. The rest of the world too.

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