We can learn a lot by studying bad things.
Spam is one of those bad things: We can learn a lot from its history, from a content strategy standpoint:
Spam knows how to discover what content is relevant enough to drive action within users. If you think about it, Spam has mastered the psychology behind what motivates users to click on an ad, a link, an email. Despite the terrible art direction and/or copy, users still click on it. And, it’s because spam always has an element of OMG, LOL, WTF that piques just enough curiosity to where users willingly accept the risks that may come with clicking on the content.
It boils down to the natural human fear of missing out.
Think about it: When you see OMG, LOL, WTF, you immediately want to know what is so OMG-, LOL- WTF-worthy, right? And, naturally, and almost immediately, we are willing to take on risks to discover what we’re missing out on. Spam always has elements of OMG, LOL, and WTF. And, that is what catches attention, interest and sparks conversations.
However, typically, after taking the risk in clicking on spam and suffering the negative consequences, users learn:
1. Interesting content is risky.
2. Something that’s too good to be true, probably isn’t true.
It’s comparable to when a child sees a burning flame, is fascinated by it, plays with it, and gets burned. The lesson learned is: do not play withfire.
As a result, consumers become smarter, more skeptical, and as a result, increasingly difficult to reach and persuade.
So, we’ve learned that elements of OMG, LOL and WTF are important in creating compelling content.
And, we’ve learned that consumers are more difficult to reach and engage with now.
But, now there’s a problem: If as advertisers, our job is to produce interesting content that inspires change in attitude, perception, behavior…and if consumers are increasingly skeptical about what catches their attention, how can we still produce results?
Who’s to blame?