Why Advertising Must Be More Consumer-Centric

Advertising may be impressive, clever, smart or catchy. But does it deliver value for consumers?

By Patrick Hong


Multi-platform, multi-screen digital experiences are providing more opportunities than ever before to create fun and engaging advertising campaigns. However, it's customer-centric advertising that fundamentally enhances consumers' digital experiences in an impactful way, serving relevant adverts at the right time. But what is meant by consumer-centric advertising? The question brands need to be asking themselves is whether their advertising efforts actually deliver value and aid consumer purchase journeys.

Advertising is one of the longest established means of marketing communications, and many brands have forged a culture and identity via the medium. The most memorable campaigns have even entered popular culture as reflections of society at a particular moment in time.

For many decades, advertising was primarily the domain of broadcast media and print, but digital marketing has meant new opportunities for brands to deliver relevant advertising at the right time. Data driven marketing, and the ability to target consumers at particular moments of their purchase journeys, has set a new precedent and a new standard of expectations amongst consumers for personalized advertising experiences that are in tune with their needs.

Infectious jingles, clever catchphrases, and ingenious slogans certainly have their place, but there is an argument that it can underutilize the insights gained from digital marketing. Often it seems that the high-budget TV spots prioritize the maximizing of reach rather than engaging consumers at relevant moments of the purchase journeys to influence decisions and encourage a conversion.

What Exactly Is Customer-Centric Advertising?

Amazon Media Group, writing for Digiday, suggests that customer-centric advertising fundamentally enhances consumers’ digital experiences in an impactful way:

“A customer-centric ad speaks to the consumer at the right time and with a relevant message. It informs and engages without making unwelcome advances on the customer’s device or shopping experience. It announces itself clearly and concisely, never cloaking its message.”


“Every communication should meet a need and ultimately drive action. The needs of someone buying shampoo will be very different from that of someone making a more involved purchase such as a TV. Are you helping or hindering the shopping process? Or, are you delivering something of value that will be appreciated?”

Where Advertising Often Falls Short

The problem that often plagues advertising practices is that brands see a need to be catchy, creative, and popular. It’s true that such ads can brilliantly raise awareness.

Perhaps there’s a element of competition between brands operating within similar industries to be perceived as the funniest, coolest, or sexiest. However, brands that push too hard in this direction can occasionally overstep and run the risk of annoying consumers.

A case in point:

Catchy it may be, but according to a survey of 1,600 UK consumers by Toluna, this was the most annoying advert to hit British screens in the last 15 years.

Insurance and comparison is a tough, highly competitive industry, and there’s an argument that brand awareness is critical to businesses operating in the space. However, advertising can be so much more than a catchy song. After all, do these kinds of adverts actually helps consumers in their decision-making journeys, and improve their overall brand experience?

Customer-centric ads don’t obsess over the cleverness of their messaging, or promote products with unnecessary complexity. They don’t intrude on consumers’ online shopping experiences or purchase journeys. With regards to this particular example, not everyone is looking to purchase car insurance at the same time, and much of the population doesn’t even drive.

Of course, these are principles that apply to advertising across many different kinds of media, whether it be TV advertising, print, or digital display.

Delivering Ads With Relevancy And Timing

When it comes down to it, all brands identify with values that are considered positive or endearing to their audiences. The problem arises when advertising compromises on these with the aim of spreading their message to consumers who aren’t currently evaluating a brand or engaging on a relevant purchase journey.

Personalization and customer relationship management, driven by the data revolution, means that we’re at the stage now when brands and businesses should be thinking about ways to deliver the relevant messaging at the right time.

Advertising As A Reflection Core Brand Values

Perhaps the most important consideration here is to utilize advertising that offers a true reflection of one’s brand. When you consider what consumers really value in a brand, it means there’s a genuine need for brands to implement values such as authenticity and simplicity, as well as those that distinguish the unique characteristics of a brand.

It may mean not chasing quick wins, or jumping on the latest trending social media bandwagon. Finding these kinds of values in a brand’s advertising messages need not be a hindrance. After all, it’s a long established fundamental of marketing theory not to overcomplicate the value proposition brands are offering consumers.

Consumer-centric advertising should be an extension of this concept, letting a product or an idea speak for itself.

Apple’s “silhouettes” for the first generation iPod advertised with a elegant portrayal of the products core value proposition. It didn’t seek to do anything clever, or create a need that didn’t exist. Apple simply presented an image of what the revolutionary device sought to be for consumers. And it did so with hardly any words at all:

Be clear. Be concise. Never cloak the message.

Words to live by.

Not every brand has the luxury of advertising iconic products like Apple. However, all brands can aspire to deliver relevant ads at the right time that enhance and nurture purchase journeys rather than grabbing at share and attention in an attempt to disrupt them.

Do you agree that advertising needs to be more consumer-centric?