What to do when your refrigerator starts advertising

  • Photo 1 of 5

    Jung von Matt, an advertising agency in Germany, created this ad for Mondo Pasta

    - Mondo Pasta/Jung von Matt

  • Photo 2 of 5

    Gimme a break of that Kit Kat Bench!

    - Kit Kat/Nestle

  • Photo 3 of 5

    A Mini Cooper ad placed in front of train station in Zurich, Switzerland

    - Mini Cooper

  • Photo 4 of 5

    The Indian Distributors of the film "The Day After Tomorrow" decided to advertise the global-warming themed movie appropriately

  • Photo 5 of 5

    Nivea premiered this "Good-bye Cellulite" couch at Miami Fashion Week

    - Nivea

Google, in a letter to the SEC, imagined a world where ads would be delivered in some pretty odd places: refrigerators, car dashboards, and thermostats, for starters. 

Which raises an interesting question: How will we ignore ads when they are in our thermostats, our cars, and our dashboards?

We’ve gotten pretty good at shooting down popups and closing video ads before they’ve even loaded and we know who they’re for. 

“When I’ve tested experienced users, one sees extreme results,” says Ben Edelman, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. “One in 10,000 college graduates clicking a banner ad.”

Part of growing up and becoming familiar with the internet, is learning how to put up blinders to the internet. 

Some advertisers have tried coercion – forcing you to watch a video before you can get to the content you actually want to see. We’ve learned to ignore those too. 

“What I end up doing is switching browser tabs, muting  the ad – I’ve seen so many friends do this – and coming back to it later,” says Jeff Harmon, with Harmon Brothers Inc. He was behind one of the most famous ad campaigns of 2013, for bathroom deodorizer Poo-Pourri. 

But that’s really clinging to the old TV mindset, says Harmon, which doesn’t translate to the internet where ignoring annoyance is just a click away. Plus, many advertisers – Google among them – have been moving away from that kind of force-feeder advertising. 

These days, most video ads, for example, make you sit through just 5 seconds of an ad. So if you like it, you can watch the rest, and if you don’t, you move on. 

So really, the strategy that will win in the future will be the strategy that wins today:  “Being relevant and engaging,” says Harmon.

Perhaps in the future, we will turn to our Google-refrigerators and iCoffee makers for content: hilarious ads, dramatic ads, or companionship, friendship, and love. Oh sorry, not the last parts. But the content part.  

Check out the slideshow above for some especially creative advertising solutions.

About the author

Sabri Ben-Achour is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the New York City Bureau.


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