Why Advertising Must Be More Consumer-Centric

One impor­tant ques­tion brands need to be ask­ing them­selves is whether their adver­tis­ing efforts actu­al­ly deliv­er val­ue and aid the con­sumer jour­ney.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Mul­ti-plat­form, mul­ti-screen dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences are pro­vid­ing more oppor­tu­ni­ties than ever before to cre­ate fun and engag­ing adver­tis­ing cam­paigns. How­ev­er, it’s cus­tomer-cen­tric adver­tis­ing that fun­da­men­tal­ly enhances con­sumers’ dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences in an impact­ful way, serv­ing rel­e­vant adverts at the right time. But what is meant by con­sumer-cen­tric adver­tis­ing? The ques­tion brands need to be ask­ing them­selves is whether their adver­tis­ing efforts actu­al­ly deliv­er val­ue and aid con­sumer pur­chase jour­neys.

Adver­tis­ing is one of the longest estab­lished means of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and many brands have forged a cul­ture and iden­ti­ty via the medi­um. The most mem­o­rable cam­paigns have even entered pop­u­lar cul­ture as reflec­tions of soci­ety at a par­tic­u­lar moment in time.

For many decades, adver­tis­ing was pri­mar­i­ly the domain of broad­cast media and print, but dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing has meant new oppor­tu­ni­ties for brands to deliv­er rel­e­vant adver­tis­ing at the right time. Data dri­ven mar­ket­ing, and the abil­i­ty to tar­get con­sumers at par­tic­u­lar moments of their pur­chase jour­neys, has set a new prece­dent and a new stan­dard of expec­ta­tions amongst con­sumers for per­son­al­ized adver­tis­ing expe­ri­ences that are in tune with their needs.

Infec­tious jin­gles, clever catch­phras­es, and inge­nious slo­gans cer­tain­ly have their place, but there is an argu­ment that it can under­uti­lize the insights gained from dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Often it seems that the high-bud­get TV spots pri­or­i­tize the max­i­miz­ing of reach rather than engag­ing con­sumers at rel­e­vant moments of the pur­chase jour­neys to influ­ence deci­sions and encour­age a con­ver­sion.

What Exactly Is Customer-Centric Advertising?

Ama­zon Media Group, writ­ing for Digi­day, sug­gests that cus­tomer-cen­tric adver­tis­ing fun­da­men­tal­ly enhances con­sumers’ dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences in an impact­ful way:

A cus­tomer-cen­tric ad speaks to the con­sumer at the right time and with a rel­e­vant mes­sage. It informs and engages with­out mak­ing unwel­come advances on the customer’s device or shop­ping expe­ri­ence. It announces itself clear­ly and con­cise­ly, nev­er cloak­ing its mes­sage.”


Every com­mu­ni­ca­tion should meet a need and ulti­mate­ly dri­ve action. The needs of some­one buy­ing sham­poo will be very dif­fer­ent from that of some­one mak­ing a more involved pur­chase such as a TV. Are you help­ing or hin­der­ing the shop­ping process? Or, are you deliv­er­ing some­thing of val­ue that will be appre­ci­at­ed?”

Where Advertising Often Falls Short

The prob­lem that often plagues adver­tis­ing prac­tices is that brands see a need to be catchy, cre­ative, and pop­u­lar. It’s true that such ads can bril­liant­ly raise aware­ness.

Per­haps there’s a ele­ment of com­pe­ti­tion between brands oper­at­ing with­in sim­i­lar indus­tries to be per­ceived as the fun­ni­est, coolest, or sex­i­est. How­ev­er, brands that push too hard in this direc­tion can occa­sion­al­ly over­step and run the risk of annoy­ing con­sumers.

A case in point:


Catchy it may be, but accord­ing to a sur­vey of 1,600 UK con­sumers by Tol­u­na, this was the most annoy­ing advert to hit British screens in the last 15 years.

Insur­ance and com­par­i­son is a tough, high­ly com­pet­i­tive indus­try, and there’s an argu­ment that brand aware­ness is crit­i­cal to busi­ness­es oper­at­ing in the space. How­ev­er, adver­tis­ing can be so much more than a catchy song. After all, do these kinds of adverts actu­al­ly helps con­sumers in their deci­sion-mak­ing jour­neys, and improve their over­all brand expe­ri­ence?

Cus­tomer-cen­tric ads don’t obsess over the clev­er­ness of their mes­sag­ing, or pro­mote prod­ucts with unnec­es­sary com­plex­i­ty. They don’t intrude on con­sumers’ online shop­ping expe­ri­ences or pur­chase jour­neys. With regards to this par­tic­u­lar exam­ple, not every­one is look­ing to pur­chase car insur­ance at the same time, and much of the pop­u­la­tion does­n’t even dri­ve.

Of course, these are prin­ci­ples that apply to adver­tis­ing across many dif­fer­ent kinds of media, whether it be TV adver­tis­ing, print, or dig­i­tal dis­play.

Delivering Ads With Relevancy And Timing

When it comes down to it, all brands iden­ti­fy with val­ues that are con­sid­ered pos­i­tive or endear­ing to their audi­ences. The prob­lem aris­es when adver­tis­ing com­pro­mis­es on these with the aim of spread­ing their mes­sage to con­sumers who aren’t cur­rent­ly eval­u­at­ing a brand or engag­ing on a rel­e­vant pur­chase jour­ney.

Per­son­al­iza­tion and cus­tomer rela­tion­ship man­age­ment, dri­ven by the data rev­o­lu­tion, means that we’re at the stage now when brands and busi­ness­es should be think­ing about ways to deliv­er the rel­e­vant mes­sag­ing at the right time.

Advertising As A Reflection Core Brand Values

Per­haps the most impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion here is to uti­lize adver­tis­ing that offers a true reflec­tion of one’s brand. When you con­sid­er what con­sumers real­ly val­ue in a brand, it means there’s a gen­uine need for brands to imple­ment val­ues such as authen­tic­i­ty and sim­plic­i­ty, as well as those that dis­tin­guish the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of a brand.

It may mean not chas­ing quick wins, or jump­ing on the lat­est trend­ing social media band­wag­on. Find­ing these kinds of val­ues in a brand’s adver­tis­ing mes­sages need not be a hin­drance. After all, it’s a long estab­lished fun­da­men­tal of mar­ket­ing the­o­ry not to over­com­pli­cate the val­ue propo­si­tion brands are offer­ing con­sumers.

Con­sumer-cen­tric adver­tis­ing should be an exten­sion of this con­cept, let­ting a prod­uct or an idea speak for itself.

Apple’s “sil­hou­ettes” for the first gen­er­a­tion iPod adver­tised with a ele­gant por­tray­al of the prod­ucts core val­ue propo­si­tion. It did­n’t seek to do any­thing clever, or cre­ate a need that did­n’t exist. Apple sim­ply pre­sent­ed an image of what the rev­o­lu­tion­ary device sought to be for con­sumers. And it did so with hard­ly any words at all:


Be clear. Be con­cise. Nev­er cloak the mes­sage.

Words to live by.

Not every brand has the lux­u­ry of adver­tis­ing icon­ic prod­ucts like Apple. How­ev­er, all brands can aspire to deliv­er rel­e­vant ads at the right time that enhance and nur­ture pur­chase jour­neys rather than grab­bing at share and atten­tion in an attempt to dis­rupt them.

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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