when advertising works

I consider myself an expert at ignoring advertising. I have never once clicked a link in an email ad, I don’t sign up for anything unless I’m 100% sure it’s legit and will get me no spam, be it a newsletter, website account, whatever (I still refuse to get a YouTube account), and most forms of advertising simply have no effect on me, because of the effect many studies have found — repeated, irrelevant advertising in the same location is very easy to tune out as noise for pretty much everybody. (Note: I do have one friend, who shall remain nameless, and when she sees a commercial on TV for almost anything, she wants to try it.) When I watch TV, I often mute it during commercials, depending on what channel I’m watching, and ads like those little videos that play before the video you actually want on some website, I always open up some other browser window or something else to do while the video is playing, I refuse to even give them my attention.

However, I realized the other day that some advertising does work on me. I thought about the situation as it was happening (I was quite aware that the advertising was working, but this did not lower its effectiveness level), and I came to the conclusion that I imagine the same thing happens for a lot of people, and it is that very situation which causes things like mailers to be effective. (Of note: I do NOT believe the same tactic works for spam email — I have encountered this exact same situation with spam email and it had zero effect. I believe that as internet users we are trained that all spam is evil and probably a scam to steal our identity/money/very souls).

So what happened, you ask? Well, a brief backstory: I love movies, and have been a member of Blockbuster’s online movie rental for a long time now, maybe 2 years or so, I don’t remember exactly. Several months ago, sometime last year, I decided that to be fair, I should compare the Blockbuster online movie rental service to Netflix, its biggest competitor. Now, this is not about my thoughts on which is better, if you’re interested, feel free to ask, but after a couple of months of using Netflix and comparing it, I cancelled the service for financial reasons (and again, if you’re interested in comparing the two, don’t read too much into this, there is a lot of other backstory here I’m not telling), even though I really enjoyed it. Recently, I have been considering restarting my Netflix membership for various reasons, but I had not yet decided to do it. But then the advertising happened. I got, in the mail, a flyer from Netflix, saying that I should renew my membership and reminding me of all the benefits and blah blah blah. It didn’t offer me any special prices. It didn’t offer me any more free stuff (new members get a 2 week free trial). And it didn’t tell me anything about the service that I didn’t already know. I enjoy being well-versed in anything I do, so I do my research on every product I buy and every service I use, to a reasonable extent of course, depending on what they are. But the very same night that I got my Netflix flyer, I went online and renewed my membership. Am I a sucker for advertising? No, of course not. Had I received that flyer at a random time, I would have simply thrown it away and not given it a second thought. But I was currently considering restarting my membership at Netflix. So did the flyer tip me over the edge and make the decision for me? Perhaps, nobody can say for sure what tips them in situations like that. But I know that the flyer had at least some effect, be it small or large.

So that, in my opinion, is when advertising works the best. There are other situations for different people where it works in other ways, but I think that it works the best when the potential customer is already considering the product or service offered.

And now I’m off to enjoy my unlimited Watch it Now service :)