My colleague Prem Gyani has told me the best time to write a blog post is when I am emotional or feel strongly about something, so, here goes:
I’ve just read this article about Uber’s plans to ‘entertain’ and engage with us (translate as further monetise their customers) and it made me feel overwhelmed and exasperated.
Maybe it’s because I spend hours of my day online, or that I know a bit about digital advertising and marketing, but I am the sort of person who would have the following at the top of their hate list, all of which negatively affect my relationship with the product or brand in question. And in a world where it’s word of mouth or social share that is the most powerful recommendation you can get, that just seems crazy:
- Those intrusive ads on the free version of music streaming services – like you can sit through those!
- The way each new version of the operating system on my mobile devices switches all the notifications on my apps to ON – meaning I start to get annoying ‘salesy’ messages from all 50 direct to my home screen – isn’t that just a sure way to drive us all bonkers?
- TV or advertising screens in a bar or restaurant – anything that disrupts my precious social time, especially when the rest of my day I am bombarded with marketing in different forms
- The fact that as soon as I have bought another cardigan (I collect them) on a well known clothes retailer’s website, I get ads persuading me that I would like to purchase that exact same product for days afterwards on every site I visit – how ridiculous is that?
- Email lists that will not unsubscribe me even if I have done what they ask (even if highly convoluted) millions of times – that is just such a no no!!
- Grocery websites (whom I depend upon to help me avoid supermarkets, and spend a small fortune with every year) who still try to sell me nappies 12 years after my daughter was born
Anyway, ranting aside, I think my main point is that, although I understand that businesses need to be profitable, that they should proceed with extreme caution when they push advertising out to their existing or potential customers. Unless they are sure that their messages or product is targeted accurately, and that they are not being aggressive or intrusive, then they should not press that button, to ensure they don’t alienate as many or more people than they attract.
So, Uber, remember I might just want some me time in the back of your cab, and if I don’t get it I’ll probably go somewhere else next time.