Advertising Offset Credits: Calculating the Cost of Ad Pollution
Advertising is like pollution. It’s noxious, obtrusive, and seemingly ever-present. Sure, there are exceptions — no one minds an ad that is creative, clever, or genuinely entertaining. But consumers have learned to ignore, bypass, and tune out ads. The admen have countered with even more aggressive techniques, interrupting everything we do… to talk about themselves. Is that really the way to get me to know, like, and trust you and your brand?
If we look at advertising like pollution, then here’s a parallel concept to explore: Advertising Offset Credits. In the terrestrial world, environmental polluters can purchase Carbon Offset Credits to compensate for the damage they’ve incurred. What if we did the same thing for the most annoying advertisers? Would that make a difference?
I explore this thought experiment here in Episode 116 of my podcast (listen to mp3 file directly).
Another thing that bugs me—when companies have a “not-for-profit” arm, doesn’t it contribute to profit in some way? Are these charitable programs and foundations legit, or are they just a form of Corporate Offset Credit? Wouldn’t it be better if the corporation just did some lasting good instead of being exploitative and then “covering” for it?
Ten Principles for Better Advertising — Inspiration to Do Better
This concept of Advertising Offset Credits was inspired by a quote from Andrew Essex’s Ten Principles for Better Advertising:
Measure what actually matters: How about calculating the real damage incurred by being annoying? Traditional ROI metrics put us in this predicament, so let’s fundamentally redefine ROI. It’s time for the industry to toss out our old reporting techniques and invent an entirely new measurement system rooted in hearts and minds and humanity. No one actually pays a price for making bad ads. Imagine if we could precisely calculate the long-term cost of your irritating people.
SOURCE: The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come by Andrew Essex, pp. 205–8. (Spiegel & Grau, 2017).