Ads Are Like Weeds

shutterstock_188702624_940x528In botany we were taught how plants invade new environments quickly. Anywhere that there is light, water and a few nutrients, plants will fill the space, a new gap in the canopy, a fire, a flood. Anything that creates a niche, plant life will fill.

Of course this is how biology works. Species compete, reproduce and adapt.

Yet, when this happens in a man-made environment like a garden, where we are deliberately trying to create space, the invading plants are known as weeds. So what is a weed? It is really just an unwanted wild plant that invades a space created in a garden.

So why is this relevant for advertising? Well, it’s just a nice analogy. Advertising tends to fill any available space: just look at what’s happened to the online world, every conceivable digital ad format, shape and size has evolved to fill every available niche.

Some of these ads are wanted, well targeted and relevant. But most aren’t, they are just invading space. They are advertising weeds, irrelevant, unwanted and irritating. And just like garden weeds the problem is often not with the ads themselves, it’s just they are in the wrong space at the wrong time in an environment where they are not wanted.

Advertisers should think like botanists. Don’t just judge the plant, judge the environment too. Ask yourselves if you are propagating advertising weeds rather than nurturing a brand garden. And if you are, put the hard work in to get rid of them.