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Bango buys worst-viewed billboard in UK to protest ‘broken’ search advertising

The billboard near Manchester is Clear Channel’s least-viewed

An intentionally awful advertising campaign has been launched by Bango in a sly dig at the pitfalls of search advertising, where it claims up to 35% of ads fail to reach their target audience.

The behavioral targeting company has used a junk billboard to illustrate how as much as $60bn of marketing spend is squandered out of sight and out of mind on search ads.

The low-impact campaign demonstrates how over a third of search ads fail to find their intended audience. Of those ads that do punch through, over a quarter miss people with purchase intent and 20% pass key decision makers by.

The hit-and-miss nature of digital advertising is encapsulated by one Bango case study, which found that an ad targeting senior marketing professionals found its way to students, supermarket cashiers and a dog breeder instead.

Into this dismal environment, Bango has unleashed what it terms ‘The Worst Ad Campaign in the World’ by acquiring subprime real estate on Clear Channel’s least-viewed UK billboard near Manchester to make its message – not with a bang, but rather a whimper.

Dubbing the unpromising locale as ‘still a better use of budget than many search ads’, Anil Malhotra, chief marketing officer at Bango, told The Drum: “We wanted to run this campaign because I do genuinely believe that search advertising is broken. Search marketing captures billions of dollars of ad budgets in exchange for supposedly targeted marketing. But it’s increasingly evident that it is not well-targeted – not in the way those selling search advertising suggest.

“The lesson digital marketers must absorb is that what people search for is a poor indicator of what they want to buy. On its own, it is not enough to show purchase intent. The same is true for a lot of social media advertising. What people ‘like’ on social isn’t always what they like in real life, or what they want to buy. It’s one reason people express irritation at irrelevant online advertising.

“While our billboard ad may be the worst in the country, I hope it jolts marketers into rethinking their approach to targeting customers.”

Bango positions itself as a trusted guide for brands wishing to navigate this minefield by applying purchase behavior targeting technology to better understand how consumers spend their money by drawing upon real payment data.

Taking the guesswork out of what can amount to digital sorcery, the technology allows marketers to target audiences based upon what they’ve previously bought.

Adding to brands’ misery online is the risk of association with unsavory content, such as Covid misinformation, as recently befell Nike, Amazon and Ted Baker.

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