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Why Even “Bad” Ads Are Actually Good

Why Even “Bad” Ads Are Actually Good

Have you heard the old saying “All press is good press”?  Well, the same is usually true in advertising.  With the exception of problematic or offensive ads, running pretty much any ad can help your business.  Whether your ads really hit the nail on the head or not, they can almost always be beneficial.  

Sometimes, you watch an entire advertisement, get to the end, and still don’t have the slightest idea what the company or product is that is being advertised.  The brand name comes up on the screen, and you have no idea how anything you just watched relates to them at all.  You may then wonder how that advertisement could possibly be effective.  It didn’t tell you anything meaningful about the product or service, and didn’t offer any real reasons why you should try said product/service.  If you remember ever seeing ads like this, you probably think that they had no bearing on your future purchasing behavior.  But that is where you are wrong.  

Or, how about another situation.  A company creates an ad, and they believe it clearly explains their brand’s value proposition, and why consumers should purchase their product.  However, as a consumer, you watch the ad, and are actually left a bit confused.  Some key information is missing, so you’re still not quite sure what it is that is being offered.  This is another case in which you would likely assume the ad did nothing to change your behavior.  But again, this assumption would be wrong.  

What can possibly explain how a seemingly “bad” advertisement can still provide some benefits to a business?  The mere exposure effect.  This is a psychological phenomenon that has been supported by a multitude of studies over the years.  It states that people tend to develop a preference for things based only on the fact that they are familiar with them.  So, merely being exposed to an idea, or in this case a brand name or product, can lead people to favor it in the future.  

Thus, your ad itself doesn’t need to be particularly extraordinary to lead to long-term benefits for your brand.  Even if people do not fully understand or feel a connection to your advertisement in the moment, merely seeing or hearing your brand name could be enough to lead them to become a customer in the future.  

Granted, positive feelings and goodwill alone are not always enough to gain a customer.  People also must be in need of the product or service you are offering and feel it adds value to their life before they’ll buy it.  But gaining that brand recognition and positive connotation associated with your brand name is a huge first step in growing sales.  

The mere exposure effect helps explain why companies continue to run attention-grabbing ads that don’t always seem directly related to their product.  If you can get people to see and remember your brand name now, you can work on the final steps of converting them to a full-blown customer later.  

So the next time you see a TV commercial that just doesn’t make any sense, know that it is still having an impact on you, and probably helping to shape your perception of the company or product being advertised.  You just might not realize it. 

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