If you’re like me, certain activities in your daily life require your undivided attention, while other tasks are more collaborative in nature and leave you more open to interruptions. What you may consider an unwelcome intrusion in one moment, may be treated as serendipity or a happy discovery in the next.

Agencies can learn a lot from picking the right message for particular moments, because in advertising — as in comedy — timing is everything.

Diversity and variety

It’s important to know what the right moment to serve the right message to the right person is. With so many new metrics to gauge user habits, there’s really no longer a reason to take the spray and pray approach to advertising.

This does, however, make it necessary to have a healthy inventory of messages to draw on to target more creatively, less obtrusively and more precisely. Agencies are then required to build a volume of messages at scale, and stress diversity to allow for a variety of applications.

We already know what happens when you saturate the audience with one-size-fits-all messages without a thought. It’s almost universally acknowledged that such annoying practices have led to the rise of ad blocking. Assaulting users with too many low quality, untargeted ads will only speed up the adoption of such tech. It’s hard to blame those wanting to opt out of something they find unpleasant or an annoying intrusion.

Quality over quantity

The industry has made attempts to recognise that yes, the user experience does matter.

A few months ago, the IAB launched an initiative called LEAN Ads (light, encrypted, ad choice supported, non-invasive), which brings me back to the importance of inventory. Following the LEAN guidelines means advertisers should select fewer messages, but more of the ones that consumers will be happy to see.

By offering the discovery of relevant goods and services — messages that actually help users through their daily journey — agencies can counter the swell of discontent about annoying and intrusive ads.

Avoid repetition

A less disruptive approach requires recognition to best serve clients; it’s important not to overexpose the user. We suggest a frequency cap of three of the same messages to the same user per 24 hours.

So if you are tracking across devices, for example, a typical messaging cycle could be delivered once on mobile, once on desktop, and once to a connected TV or other OTT device in a single day.

That requires a variety of messages on hand that can be rotated to not be annoying. So it’s ideal to have multiple relevant ads and simultaneous campaigns at scale to reach the people you want without repetition and wasted impressions.

The right audience

This is especially important when targeting millennials and younger audiences. Those communities value authenticity as much as collaboration and by serving the wrong message at the wrong time you risk turning them off, or worse, making them actively dislike and campaign against your brand.

Social media apps have become a conduit for young people to express short bursts of spontaneous creativity. Every day, millions of people, especially millennials, turn to social media to share in a positive, creative environment. Agencies have the opportunity to use fresh, first-person data to create unique, individually targeted and timed experiences for each person. Ideally, a healthy mix of relevant messages would be used, satisfying the diversity that the millennial audience craves.

Because of these apps’ global reach, that inventory would need to be custom-tailored, taking into account not just region, but age, gender and even the time of day in the group’s time zone. These messages shouldn’t just be traditional display ads, but range in variety themselves: from in-app native video to memes and hashtags.

With a deep inventory of messages, it becomes more feasible to find a good match between the range of emotions at any given moment with the diversity of messages you have available to serve. And that lends itself to targeting more creatively, giving the agency a powerful advantage — being able to place a message specific to that context without being annoying or disruptive.