Consumer behavior moved to a more intolerant stance with the advent of ad blockers. Arguably, however, they were not trying to block ads, but something else. Online, what masquerades as ads are weaponized packages of spyware that destroy hardware systems, track activity, and steal personal data. They are not ads, but viruses. And they should be blocked.

Imagine if that was how ads worked in the real world. We recently got a taste of that with the news that Visio televisions were collecting data about us behind the scenes and selling it to third parties. That’s not advertising. It’s illegal. Visio was forced to pay fines and cut it out. These days, you don’t watch TV as much as the TV watches you.

Consumers have a right to protect themselves from intrusive spyware. Calling it advertising does not make it any less sinister. So rather than turning consumers into combatants against you, why not get the word out in ways that do not drive consumers to rage. Here are a few suggestions:

Creative Signage

A sign that blocks an otherwise breathtaking view is a bad thing. And consumers will not reward you for doing it. A sign that forces you to look at it is very different than a sign that invites you to look at it. You want to make inviting signs that people want to stop and look at, not signs that block and interrupt.

When you exhibit at a convention, your booth is already visible. It just may not be interesting. You don’t need to make it bigger so that it blocks the aisle. What you need is one of those custom tents that pulls the eye to your exhibit and your message.

Creative signage is all about making signs that people want to stop and look at. Make a sign that attempts to force people to interact, and you lose engagement while creating hostility.

Nonlinear Marketing

Nonlinear marketing is less about getting the word out, and more about brands weaving themselves into the lives of consumers. Red Bull and Starbucks are just two prominent examples of this approach.

The traditional sales continuum begins with the awareness of need and ends with a purchase. In between are things like knowledge of options, brand preferences, and conviction. But nonlinear marketing puts brand preference even before the awareness of need. Engagement with the brand can be the thing that creates the need.

Brand advertising makes people want to engage with the brand. Nag advertising tries to force engagement by interrupting what the consumer is trying to do. Brand advertising is respectful of the medium. Nag advertising is not.

Some TV and radio shows are un-consumable because of the ads. The same is true for the content of many website. The medium only exists to deliver ads, not consumable content. This creates a user hostile environment where the consumer hates both the advertiser and the content provider. This is a no-win situation.

Nonlinear marketing requires the kind of approach that draws people into the brand, and makes the brand a part of their lives. It works with the consumer and the medium, not against.

Native Advertising

Native advertising doesn’t have to be sneaky. The fact that a sponsor is mentioned in the body of the content does not impugn the integrity of the content. If anything, it makes it more honest. This way, the reader knows the boundaries of the advertiser’s influence.

The truth is, all media is effected by advertisers. If a soap opera takes the programing to a place that sponsors do not like, they pull out, taking their ad dollars with them. Broadcast news is paid for by advertisers.

Good native advertising reduces the role of the advertiser, sandboxing it to a small, natural mention that does not interrupt the flow of the content. It is better to watch your favorite superhero sip a Coke on screen, than to stop the movie for a Coke commercial.

Creative signage, nonlinear marketing, and native advertising are the keys to ads that don’t anger the people who see them.