Hey Businesses Do You Want to Lose Customers? Advertise on YouTube

And Please Stop Your Whining About How Tough it is in the Digital Age

I understand how difficult it is to be a business in today’s economy. Competition is fierce, raw materials costs are high, money is tight, etc. Honestly though things are not that different from how they have always been in a capitalist economy like the United States’ and they are not likely to change anytime soon. It is thus incumbent upon the modern business to build a solid reputation and maybe even a recognizable brand. The easiest way to do this it to deliver a high quality product that meets or exceeds your customers expectations at a fair price each and every time. This is very hard to do and so many businesses think they can shortcut the process and spend a little less money by advertising instead of doing those other things. To the company executives and investors it seems like a no brainer. Ironically enough it is, but only in the pejorative sense, particularly when digital advertising is the selected venue for an advertising campaign.

I only started using YouTube in a regular way in the past year or so. Mainly this is because I am poor now so services that offer “free” entertainment have become much more important in my life. Particularly with music YouTube is now my go to source. Most often I find myself watching long form music streams, live shows, full recorded sets, etc. Luckily, my favorite music genre, drum and bass/jungle, is the opposite of popular so it is not the most attractive to advertisers. However, even in this most obscure and backwater corner of the music world the advertisers have been worming their way into the streams with 5s, 30s, and longer cut-in ads. I know I am not just speaking for myself when I say how freaking annoying this is and how pissed off I get every time it happens. I have seen literally hundreds of articles, blog posts, etc. about this very issue and all are extremely negative on the practice particularly as it relates to the longer versions of these ads.

In my head I keep a list. That list consists of the names of every company that has ever cut in to a stream I was enjoying and ruined it with a shitty ad. I will never buy a product from any of those companies again. Not only that but I will actively and regularly bad mouth said companies and their products. If I am in a particularly bad mood I might even tell a story about a really shitty experience I had with the company or one of their products. Heck, if I am really annoyed I might even write such a story and post it here on Medium. Is that slander? Honestly, I don’t know, slander is a complicated legal term with many different interpretations depending on where you are in the world and it could take years in court to figure out who is in the right. All of my stories are at least “based” on “facts”. I have plenty of free time and would love to participate in such an interesting discussion if any company is interested.

I am sure if Mr. Big Shot at Ford ever were to stumble across this post he would read that and laugh. No doubt, he would still be chuckling to himself as he lit his Cuban cigar with a $100 bill and kicked the neaked supermodels out of his bed before inhaling the giant line of primo Columbian white on his bedside table. In my life, however, Ford is now a persona non-grata. I will never buy one, rent one, or drive one again if possible, and so it goes for a number of other “popular” and highly thought of brands. I may be poor now but it is at least theoretically possible that someday I shall have money again. If that day ever comes currently there are 12 companies that will never see any of it if I can help it.

Finally, I do not want to hear any more CEOs or business big wigs complaining about how their sales are down or they can’t compete because they can’t figure out how to advertise online. Here’s a novel idea, take all that money you can’t figure out how to spend advertising online and invest in R&D, and/or quality. Take all those people you were going to have standing around some whiteboard pitching ideas for the next big ad campaign and instead have them pitching ideas for the next great product innovation. Fuck advertising, you can succeed without it. Yes, it is hard, but it can be done and unlike advertising an improvement in quality does not look stupid ten years from now, and more importantly will never piss anyone off so much that it causes them to swear off your products for a lifetime.

Authors note: I give free business advice M-F 8–9am EST. Any other time my rate is $250/hr. Free technical/scientific advice only given at my discretion, all other times my rate is $350/hr. You know how to reach me.

Written by

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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