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How to communicate in the era of digitisation - why to say "no" to adverts

By Kazimierz Piekarz, Binaria Upgrade Marketing
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The customer is king? Not necessarily. Publishers will do a lot to satisfy advertisers. After all, they pay the bills. But consumers are defending themselves. Here is how to help them and win.

Industry had high hopes for online advertising that is accepted and expected by the recipient and consistent with the trend of permission marketing, characterised by consumers’ informed consent to have commercial messages directed at them.

However these hopes didn't fulfill so the race began for various technical and technological tricks, ever larger surfaces, clever layers, scrolls, rich media, etc., to display as many ads as possible to the largest number of internet users. The struggle for attention is fought at all touchpoints, but nowhere has it gone as far as on the internet, where there are no legal limits on advertising as on radio or television.

Until now, few brands respected the attention and privacy of consumers, listened to their wishes. The result is the rebellion of media users who are increasingly aware and ingeniously repel the increasingly aggressive attacks of advertisers on their privacy.

Barriers to the development of advertising

Advertising reached a ceiling where people reflexively started skipping it, and with the help of technology can easily block it. According to the IAB report, The Phenomenon of Ad Blocking, the percentage of internet users in Poland using ad blocking add-ins is increasing from year to year - in 2017 it was as much as 42% (source: https://iab.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Raport-IAB-Zjawisko-blokowania-reklam.pdf). In this respect, Poland is at the forefront in the world.

Advertising is affected by ad fraud, deleting cookies, and increasingly stringent legal regulations.

Ad fraud is an artificially generated traffic on websites (both by robots and people) which is bringing budget losses (advertisers pay for "empty" views or clicks unsupported by users' activities). According to the WFA report, Compendium Of Ad Fraud Knowledge for Media Investors, in 2016 advertising fraud accounted for up to 30% of the money spent on digital media.

Internet users increasingly understand how browsers work and what "cookies" are – 37% of respondents admitted to blocking or deleting them (IAB, Online privacy, 2016/2017, source: https://www.iab.org.pl/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IAB_Polska_Prywatnosc_w_sieci_2016_2017_raport.pdf).

A serious barrier to the freedom of advertising are the legal regulations of recent years. Tightening the protection of personal data resulting from the GDPR requires the use of permission marketing principles – obtaining voluntary, informed, unambiguous and withdrawable consent of the user to send marketing messages and the use of cookies. Entities breaking the rules are subject to high penalties.

In turn, the ePrivacy Regulation, which will enter into force in EU countries, supplementing the GDPR with regulations on electronic services, will impose more restrictions on unwanted advertising, greater transparency of cookies and protection of metadata, such as information on the location or history of the browser. Such fortifications can significantly hinder the precise targeting of advertisements to potential customers, especially in automated campaigns such as programmatic or those using machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, as well as hyper- or microtargeting.

Marketing communication must take into account the above phenomena. It can't be reduced to advertising. It's time to say "no" to advertising. Time to show respect to the consumers, to put them in the centre of attention of marketing, time to create useful content for the users, so engaging that they will not be able to do without it. The recipient's involvement is the key to effective marketing.

An original approach to engaging communication

To engage the recipient and skilfully establish relationships with him, certain actions are required. For example, using the proprietary approach to engaging communication developed in our agency - SOCOMOPR (an acronym for the names of four channels and types of marketing communication: social media, content marketing, mobile marketing, public relations).

SOCOMOPR has been successfully tested in communication with demanding users, target groups that are not easily influenced by advertisements, for example in a global promotional campaign for an IT software producer, in the regulated industry of law, with the launch of a new brand on the Polish market, or in the automotive industry –  with image promotion and creating customer experience for a luxury-car brand.

Our approach differs from integrated communication with such elements as: omnichannel (coherent communication in all touchpoints instead of simultaneous communication), two-way communication (instead of one-way monologue) and engaging types of promotion (instead of unwanted advertising).

Social media – acquiring and maintaining audience engagement

Social media is a powerful tool not only for communicating with users, but also for obtaining important information that consumers are looking for. They have great potential to build relationships with brands and allow them to stay close to their customers. Thanks to them, consumers can almost immediately get opinions about products and services that interest them. Potential recipients expect not only convenient and quick contact, but also the opportunity to settle matters without providing information that could be used for marketing purposes in the future.

We find out about the power of applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., feeling discomfort and even concern in cases where we do not have access to them for a while.

The dominance of Facebook and Google has reached such a scale that the plan to divide both digital giants into parts has entered the policy programme of one of the US presidential election candidates.

Content marketing – high quality content educates recipients

High-quality content on websites in the form of blogs, guides, webinars or infographics influence a targeted audience in a completely different way than advertising content. Unlike unwanted advertising, which attacks users at every step and encourages them to shop, content marketing is not intrusive, but it is a value for the recipients because it answers the questions that bother them. High-quality content can also be social and environmental campaigns, or sharing research and reports. Unique and valuable information is willingly shared and cited on other pages, which allows to increase brand awareness and website traffic. Content marketing gradually but effectively builds the brand's reputation and credibility, putting it as an expert in its industry. Through paid amplification, content can be guaranteed to have a sufficiently wide reach to precisely selected target groups.

Video content is even more powerful than images. The State of Video Marketing 2019 report published in the USA gives a clear picture of the growing impact of video marketing on brand perception. As many as 87% of companies currently use videos as a marketing tool (in 2017 this percentage was 63%), 96% of people watching guidebooks admit that they learn more about the products and services presented in them, while 79% of respondents say that the film created by the brand convinced them to buy software or an application (source: https://info.wyzowl.com/state-of-video-marketing-2019-report).

Mobile – a precise reach to the recipient

According to StatCounter data for 2018, the average share of mobile in generating online traffic in Poland increased to almost 62% (up by 10 percentage points year-on-year). However, the traffic that takes place within mobile applications is not included, and these are experiencing a real boom – they have taken over the lives of users and the business world. The average user devotes an average of two hours a day to applications, which gives an annual total of around of one month. According to our estimates for the Polish market, taking into account data on traffic in mobile applications, the share of mobile in online traffic is 80%, which means that mobile applications are increasingly at value for marketers, and that the division into stationary and mobile internet has lost its justification.

SMS and social media, especially messengers, are one of the best channels for exchanging information due to their speed and efficiency. Dynamic targeting of messages via SMS and MMS allows the brand to precisely reach users in a specific place (geotargeting) and direct them to a store located nearby.

Public relations – building brand credibility

The presence of the brand in the media and its good image are invariably important. Establishing relations with the press, speeches by company representatives at press or industry conferences, and publishing information such as about sponsorship of a local sport club, are activities that build trust to the brand and evoke positive associations with it. A good PR strategy creates the desired image of the company for many years, solving current issues such as product failures, negative opinions or appropriate intervention in the case of black PR, when a brand is being discredited in the eyes of recipients.

How to secure a triple win?

Consumers are more and more aware of marketing activities and increasingly demanding about the content. Ads are not perceived positively, so users are finding more and more effective ways to avoid them. All of this forces marketers to change their communication. To meet the expectations of recipients, the brand must take many actions aimed at attracting attention and maintaining consumers' interest. Today, an ideal brand is present wherever its users are, acts as an expert, listens to its customers and provides them with valuable content in an attractive, engaging way. Trust in the brand built in this way results in consumer loyalty and winning in the win-win-win model, which becomes the share of consumer, publisher and brand. This result can be achieved through omnichannel activities, and at the same time consistent, using alternative to advertising types of marketing communication, putting the good of the consumer first. Because the customer is our king!

More information on www.binariaupgrade.com

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