By David Kiefaber
According to an AdweekMedia/Harris Poll, 75 percent of Americans have been confused by ads on television. This is readily apparent if you’re an ad blogger like me, but it’s not as serious as you’d think once the numbers are broken down. One curious result of the study is how little education matters to the final tally. College and graduate students are just as likely to be confused by advertising as people whose formal education ended in high school, so either we’re all getting dumber (possible!) or marketers have gotten too cute with their concepts at the expense of content, usually by overestimating their aptitude for absurdist humor or social-media navigation. I’ve been saying for a while now that “brand awareness” is a limited goal all by itself, especially in a grim economic climate where people are watching what they buy for entirely practical reasons. They need to know what it is they’re getting and why it matters, and how using it will impress other people (a sad but enduring truism of advertising). Besides, if we’re going to be surrounded by ads everywhere we go, they might as well be useful.