Advertising Week Europe: Reasons to cut out the advertising jargon

Have you ever asked someone to engage with you? Were you proposing marriage?

We’ve been thinking about the language that people in advertising, marketing and media use, and how it sounds to people outside of the industry, ahead of our panel at Advertising Week Europe.

What does engagement mean? It’s not a view or a click or a like to these non-media folks. Source: Bloomberg Media Studios

In her recent article in Campaign, Bloomberg Media’s EMEA head of sales Viktoria Degtar asked why advertisers have constructed a language full of jargon and buzzwords that’s meaningless to the people who the industry wants to reach. 

Why, indeed?

Take, for example, the word ‘engagement’. When you’re at Advertising Week, play a little jargon bingo and listen to how many people say it. 

We’re sure it’s one of those words that you’ll hear countless times. But one person’s ‘engagement’ could mean someone liking a Facebook update while another person’s definition might be how long someone watches a video.

Watch next: Start your advertising jargon detox

That’s part of the issue with jargon and buzzwords: they can be confusing, excluding and subjective.

To test our theory, we put three of these advertising and media buzzwords to the test with a few folks in London, asking them to simply define what each word means to them.

“Engagement… is that to do with a ring?” one said.

One of Maxus UK’s CEO Nick Baughan’s “personal bugbears” is agnostic, so we tried that one out too.

“Is it someone who kind of believes in a god, but not any particular god?” one said.  

Jargon isn’t the advertising industry’s only issue, and these folks said there’s more that advertising can do better. Their suggestions tended to skew towards providing more relevant, unobtrusive messages.

“Sometimes it’s a bit of a stretch to make the connection between what the message is behind the advertising,” one said.

“When I’m trying to read a news article, there are ads distracting me away from trying to read a news article. That really annoys me,” another said.

What advertising jargon drives you mad? Let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #jargondetox.

– Shannon Doubleday | April 19, 2016