6 Kinds of Advertising that Scares off Customers


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With the internet at our finger`tips, advertising has taken on many new faces. Companies have to fight to be noticed in an age when everything is only a click away. Some have resorted to scare tactics or extreme imagery, but do these actually work? Here are some forms of advertising which often do more harm than good.

Behavioral Marketing

This is probably the newest form of advertising, and possibly the scariest. Marketing agencies have an obsession over collecting consumer data and using data to market specifically to consumers. Retargeting demographic specific, interest specific marketing has taken over the internet. Consumers aren’t fooled that easily and know when internet ads are displayed to them because of some information a company has gotten a hold of.

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Over-Sexualized Messages

Though research supports that sex sells a product, the average consumer actually doesn’t like being bombarded with sexual images. Ironically many consumers are turned off by sexual ads, particularly when they have nothing to do with the product. Students who are researching consumer applied psychology at the University of Southern California have found that ads with romantic, or sexual messages tend to be quite polarizing. Single people react most poorly to these kinds of ads.

Spotify has been one of the worst abusers of this form of advertising allowing “soft-pornographic” banner ads to be displayed on their desktop app. Axe Body Spray is also notorious for their marketing campaign: “buy our products and beautiful women will want to have sex with you”. However these messages are quite polarizing and tend to encourage loyalty to other companies with a cleaner, classier image.

Sounds Ads

There is nothing worse than signing on a website and unknowingly starting a video or sound ad just by opening the page. Whether the consumer is at work, wearing headphones, or unaware of the volume of their speakers, these ads are not only annoying, they can be downright terrifying.

Political Banter

The main problem with political advertising is that the consumer likely has a stance already on the topic at hand. Google has quietly been advocating rights for gay marriages in California, and even broadcasted some commercials in support of same sex marriage. Regardless of who agrees, a company that involves themselves with such a hot moral and political issue often leaves a bad taste in most consumers mouths.

Often, adding politics to a product or service simply turns off consumers who support a separate political group or idea. There is little chance someone who supports the political view will buy a product or service based solely on that.

Shock Ads

Though many of these ads are ways to raise awareness, often these ads use shock tactics that make viewers feel uncomfortable. Many consumers find it unnecessary to broadcast images or videos of women breastfeeding, taboo images such as a white priest kissing a black nun, or a newborn baby still covered in blood and fluid. Companies and organizations who choose this form of advertising paint a picture of loud, obnoxiousness. These ads are meant to grab your attention, which they undoubtedly do, but often not in a positive light.

Highly Repetitive Advertising

One principle of marketing and sales is that a consumer must be touched multiple times by a company before they will buy a product. That principle has led companies to run media advertisements over and over again until consumers can’t stand it anymore. Customers don’t want to see the same commercial of men and women happily partying on the beach with beers in hand 10 times.

It would be more effective for a customer to see the ad on TV, see the product in the store, see a banner ad for it online, and hear a commercial for it on the radio. The same message can be delivered, as long as it’s not the same one over and over again.


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