Negative Branding and PPV: No Cause for Alarm

Not everyone loves pay per view (PPV) advertising. In fact, some people really don’t like it one bit. While there may be some legitimate arguments against the use of PPV in some circumstances, many of the criticisms leveled against it just don’t hold up to any level of scrutiny. Those who claim that PPV participation risks so-called “negative branding” are a perfect example of those not-so-persuasive arguments against PPV.

The negative branding argument is based on the assumption that people just don’t like popunders, which is how most PPV companies serve their ads. The critics maintain that consumers view these ads as sneaky, intrusive or “spammy” and that being associated with the practice is more likely to turn people against your brand than it is to transform them into paying customers.

While there are undoubtedly cases where intrusive ads could “turn people off”, that argument really doesn’t apply very well to PPV. There are a number of reasons why PPV advertisers don’t need to worry about negative branding.

First, the people who are on the receiving end of PPV ads aren’t necessarily representative of the general public who has negative sentiments about popunders. PPV audiences actively agreed to receive the ads. There’s a big difference between being shocked to see that your browser is surreptitiously opening new windows with advertisements and knowing it’s going to happen because you made a conscious decision to allow it.

Second, critics fail to recognize the fact that any negative feelings associated with the method of advertisement delivery can be nullified by the actual content of the marketing message. In other words, people may not like popunders, but they sure as heck love a great deal. If you’re putting a fantastic offer in front of them, they’re not going to spend a great deal of time sneering at the fact you delivered it via a PPV popunder. McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” only extends so far. The actual message does have an impact.

Third, it’s all but impossible to measure the idea of negative branding. How much impact will exposing a PPV audience to ads really have in terms of one’s overall brand and, more importantly, how much will that matter in terms of the bottom line? You can’t really say. You can, however, quickly determine that a $1,000 PPV ad spend can yield $1,350 in new business, for instance. When the bottom line shows a real profit, that should probably take precedence over a theoretical instance of slight brand degradation.

Those are just three of the many reasons why PPV advertisers should sleep soundly instead of pacing the floors worrying about their brands every night. The negative branding is one of those PPV criticisms that sounds interesting on its face but that falls apart when closely analyzed.

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