by Nigel Hilton



Open up your browser and visit your favourite website and you will more than likely find yourself flooded with ads from all sorts of different companies. Some of which you may never have heard of and others that are just entirely irrelevant to your hobbies and interests.

And this can be annoying, irritating, and intrusive. You just want to browse the internet in peace, and so the less selling companies want to do to you, the better. But in a world where we are glued to our devices searching for the latest update in our social lives, the prospect of reaching us through emails, texts, pop-ups and the like is too sweet of an opportunity for marketers to resist.

Digital marketing may have invaded our everyday lives since the internet became the behemoth that we know and love (and sometimes loathe) today. But it seems that we are becoming less and less patient with the continual bombardment of ads that we are needing to go to extreme measures.


First, we had adblock, that handy little add-on and extension for our browsers that eliminated the irritating ads bouncing on the side of the screen or pop-ups offering deals that appear, and most definitely are, too good to be true. They poisoned the screen so that any content we wanted to see was lost underneath a wash of neon lights claiming we were the one-millionth visitor and entitled to a vast sum of money. We were thankful once solutions were found.

But admen found a way to circumvent this. Instead of pop-ups invading our browsing time, we instead started receiving emails from businesses and companies we wouldn’t give a second glance to. How did they get our information? We asked. It was being sold.

Anytime we signed up to receive updates from a website, be it Amazon, Apple, eBay, or even smaller enterprises, these details were passed on, and so instead of our eyes being subject to the worse colour schemes imaginable, it was our inboxes that suffocated under a torrent of sales.

And now with every click, we wonder whether or not we are putting money in the pockets of people who only want us to learn about their product. They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, and perhaps they are right. They don’t care that we complain to our friends about how staggeringly irritating these tactics are; they are just happy we are talking about them.


But some companies have recognised this and are shifting from the accepted norm to instead provide us with insight into new deals and bargains through more traditional techniques. For the most part, this certainly seems less irritating, less intrusive, but that might just be because we don’t recognise that it is happening.

Instead of klaxons and ding-ding-dings, we instead receive physical proof of advertising, you know, like the good old days. Direct mail marketing has proven to be highly successful in spreading awareness about new offers and ways that you, the consumer, can take advantage of their generosity.

Furthermore, things such as fliers, billboards, even sign spinning students, looking for a bit of cash to fuel their weekends, are being adopted. This seems like a novelty, now. Whereas in the past you would go to great lengths to carve a path as far away from these folk as possible.

For businesses that adopt these techniques, it is cheap and easy, and while they won’t reach the millions that their digital marketing campaigns might, they get to connect with the person, and that seems to be something that online advertising has neglected. We are no longer humans who have their unique interests, but mere commodities that will buy eventually, we just need hammering into submission, first.


Digital marketing paved the way for information to spread. With the popularity of the internet, this was only inevitable. However, it seems that many agencies did not bank on driving customers away with their tactics.

It is similar to those ear worming jingles from commercials that permeate every break between TV shows - and this could be one of the reasons why streaming services have exploded, but that is an argument for a different day. We were put off these companies solely because of their annoying approach to enticing our interest. Even if we never used the service, we would balk at the idea of using them purely because of how absolutely furious we were every time we heard those first notes of the adverts.

This is seen now with the unskippable ads that dominate the majority of YouTube videos. We understand why they are doing it, the platform needs to make money somehow, but we are still upset that something that is often entirely irrelevant to us is interfering our enjoyment, especially if the ad is as long or longer than the video itself.

People do not like knowing that they are being sold to, and so eliminating this feeling, whether it be conscious or subconscious, proves to be more successful than the techniques that digital marketers employ to beg for our patronage.


While digital marketing is here to stay and is something that looks to dominate the industry until advertisers and market executives discover a way to beam their content directly into our brains, that isn’t to say that the ways of the past have no place in the present.

Companies are spending hundreds, perhaps thousands on ensuring that we know about their company and do not forget about, no matter whether we want to or not. However, just because we find our faces in screens a little bit too often nowadays, does not mean that there is the potential to reach customers in more traditional ways.

It might not happen that traditional advertising and marketing replaces its digital cousin. But for businesses looking to appeal to those who don’t trust or consider the slightest ad or pop up that appears on their screens, it could be something to consider.

Innovation in marketing has for so long been about moving forward, but the population are getting wise to these tactics. Perhaps innovation in marketing is now about moving backwards and re-establishing the tactics of the past if you want to spread awareness and build further towards the future.