Digital display marketing is getting more intrusive and obnoxious. That’s not my theory, that’s the internet talking.

Years of lazy placements, lack of relevancy and ill-thought out targeting has given digital marketing a bad name. But the fact remains that digital ads get results. Explain that one, if you can.

Actually, 83% of people agree with the statement “Not all ads are bad, but I want to filter out the really obnoxious ones.” And 77% agree that “I wish there were a way to ad-filter instead of ad-block completely.” So consumers don’t hate ads, they just hate bad ads. Go figure.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy these not-so-secret secrets that are the key to nailing digital advertising first time, every time.

Stop being so intrusive

Have you ever left a webpage because of a pop-up or an auto playing video ad? Research shows that 4 out of 5 people have done the same.

The fact is that consumers have very little patience for ads that are invasive. And over the past few years, online advertising has become irritating to online consumers, with 91% of people reporting that ads are more intrusive than they were 2-3 years ago.

When consumers feel like they have a choice of whether or not to engage with an advert, they are more likely to respond positively.

Stand out in a busy newsfeed

Let’s talk about Millennials, Generation Z and the new kid on the block (literally) Generation Alpha, who will spend most of their formative years immersed in technology.

These are the digitally-native groups who were brought up with the internet, and you know what that means? Internal ad-block. Young people have mastered the art of assessing whether something is worth their time, and getting past that filter and winning their attention is becoming increasingly difficult.

Generation Z have a finite attention span of 8 seconds. Which is why providing immediately beneficial experiences that are relevant and bespoke to their interests is important. Impersonal, shallow messaging will be drowned out in a noisy newsfeed.

Don’t be a cliché

It goes without saying that you want as many people as possible to engage with your content, whoever they are. While your product or service might be designed for men, ages 20-35, that doesn’t mean you would refuse a sale to a 40-year-old woman. But segmentation is a necessary part of planning your digital campaign.

It’s important to define your target audience without generalising them. Recognising and avoiding stereotypes is essential, because consumers can spot a cliché from a mile away. People value originality and creativity from brands, and shallow targeting will put people off.

Getting up close and personal

When it comes to content, vague messaging is worse than pointless and consumers crave a personalised advertising experience, but over 70% of marketers are failing to target consumers using behavioural data.

There are marketers out there who rely solely on demographic-based targeting when planning campaigns, but a great advert in the news feed of the wrong person is the digital equivalent of handing out flyers for guitar lessons to everybody with two hands.

Consumer intentions are expressed everyday by where they go, what they watch and what they search for, and while gender, age, education and income segmentation may be important, focusing on signals of intent is can be extremely valuable. When consumers feel like they’re being communicated with on a personalised level, they are more likely to resonate with content.

But don’t take personalisation too far

Marketers can find out what websites you are visiting. They know where you work, where you have travelled and when. They even know where you live thanks to geolocation.

It’s possible to create a more bespoke experience for a consumer than ever, but don’t overstep the mark. There is a line between an ad that is relevant and an ad that is creepy.

Advertising giants like Facebook and Google increasingly find themselves under pressure to disclose more about their targeting practices, and it turns out that consumers are less likely to engage with ads that they know have been served based on their activity on third-party websites. So keep it subtle.

Final word

Consumers are hardwired to filter out the streams of sponsored content that they are presented with, but clever creative married with sophisticated targeting can bring brands out of the background to start making a lasting impression.