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I just called 0800-086-9153 because digital advertising works, apparently

Since my days working in a mobile advertising agency, I’ve been pretty creeped out about the (potential) power of digital advertising.

We’re now all too aware that advertisers are linking our search behaviour to target us with display ads later (thanks for ruining the surprise gift, Google!). Facebook, meanwhile, is now using almost 100 different metrics to target ads at you.

Credit: Washington Post
Credit: Washington Post

And I’m pretty sure it can hear us talking. I’m reading Harry Potter right from the beginning for the first time, so I can win at a pub quiz, obviously. And now I’m getting Audible ads for Harry Potter and I SWEAR I NEVER GOOGLED IT.

Anyway, this morning I had the page open for a great article on Vice about how Uber is working with local regulators in the US to skirt the law, and I noticed a flashing ad unit:

Viceland ad

I’ve never knowingly (fat fingers aside) clicked an ad or taken any other call to action while out cruising the (‘free’ as in ad-funded) internet. There’s a stat floating around the internet that says you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad – but I called the number.

It turns out Vice is both gathering audio content from callers for its new Viceland TV channel, as well as using the automated call to advertise the new channel itself.

Simple ad unit + stimulant-hungry, idiotic millennial + gathering user generated content + advertising the thing = very good ad.

Vice was on course to make almost $1 billion in ad revenues in 2015 – mainly through big-brand content deals – but fair play if it can bring the humble banner ad out of the morgue and slap some lipstick on it.