Sometimes you just have to ask…."What were they thinking?" Have you ever read the msnbc news section? These days, the news is so graphically disturbing and cruel, you never know what horrible story may end up there. Like the recent cases of young girls ripped from their homes, sexually assaulted, and murdered. And yet in every msnbc news story – there’s some bright cheery ad right there next to these horrific headlines. Ads similar to the one I’ve displayed selling everything from better bodies, to online dating, to home equity loans.
Now – I’m sure if you look at the numbers – msnbc news pages must get a gazillion views. But I have to ask – when people are reading about rape, murder, war and unsepeakable acts of cruelty – does that content affect their frame of mind? Are they going to be open to your warm fuzzy upbeat advertising message? (they will be if your message is fear or anxiety based – if I were a home security company – this is exactly where I’d be)
What if the above ad ran next to the story of the little girl killed in Florida? (it didn’t – but it could have) The 30-45 year old mother who this ad is probably targeted at is reading about her worst nightmare. Is she really going to be receptive to your message?
It’s not just online ads. Look at network TV’s prime time line up. Crime drama after crime drama. And they’re adding even more. Just look at CBS’s new line up. Media buyers are openly concerned about "the number of police procedural dramas one schedule could carry." I’ve watched a lot of these shows and it’s common to go from some gruesome scene of a dead body to a bright cheery ad for some prescription drug .
How much does the content surrounding an ad affect the audience’s receptiveness to the message? I don’t have the answer, but if I were an advertiser, I’d want to know.