There are many secret tactics that marketers use to win customers over and sell their products. Some of these can include triggering customer’s ‘pain points’ or weaponizing the fear of missing out. Whilst these play on the subconscious minds of potential customers, they’re not necessarily questionable practices.
But there’s one type of advertising we’ve never heard of before, and it’s slightly more menacing. Although it’s probably unintentional, these adverts definitely evoke some strange feelings deep within us.
We’re talking about Ads With Threatening Auras and the Facebook group of the same name. People share the bizarre yet funny adverts they’ve encountered online or IRL that give off chaotic energy. Scroll through, vote for your favorites and you’ll see what we mean.
Bored Panda spoke with Áron Somos, the founder of the group, to learn more about how it got started. Being fond of finding niche interests on Facebook, he explained how it's actually the second popular group that he's created.
“I created this page based on previous experience and on the back of an idea,” he said. “Roughly ten years ago, when Facebook introduced the group feature, I created one for a particular car model, solely to experiment with this function. A year-and-a-half in, that group started to explode and is currently at 112K members.”
One thing led to another and Áron had the idea to start another group that he’d enjoy working on even more. “With the growth of the group came the increased responsibility of moderation,” he explained.
“I'd been doing it for a while when I started to think, if I'm spending that much time on daily moderation, why not create something that's equally fun, funny, and possibly monetizable?”
However, Facebook’s policies on content monetization are incredibly specific. So, whilst the group isn’t a cash cow, Áron made a point that money isn’t everything and the real treasure is what the page brings to himself and others.
“Although I'm yet to see a penny from the group, it never failed to give me a good giggle,” he said. “It can sometimes be time-consuming to moderate, but getting that daily laugh I'd say is a well-worth payoff.”
Many people may not realize it, but Facebook can be surprisingly lucrative for creators meeting those monetization policies. In a post shared from his page, founder Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to make the platform even more enticing to creators.
He said, “We want to build the best platforms for millions of creators to make a living, so we're creating new programs to invest over $1 billion to reward creators for great content they create on Facebook and Instagram through 2022. Investing in creators isn't new for us, but I'm excited to expand this work over time.”
And whilst Facebook also owns Instagram (another cornerstone of social media), the company faces stiff competition from other digital giants looking to bring in users. With YouTube being the established place for video creators and Twitch spearheading the streaming movement, Facebook has reinvented itself in some ways to keep up. For example, videos are now easier to find through the ‘Watch’ tab on its homepage and Facebook Gaming is bridging the gap for its users to get into different video game streamers.
The company also focused its efforts on more video content by introducing the Reels feature to Instagram. This was in direct response to the astronomical rise of TikTok. In fact, TikTok was the most downloaded application in 2020, beating out both Facebook and Instagram for the top spot. Its popularity has shown us that short-format, user-created videos might not just be a fun way to pass the time but also a profitable one.
If anyone is still in the dark about how Facebook is making its money to pay its creators, the answer is in the title of this article. Adverts. Well, maybe not always with threatening auras, but adverts nonetheless.
Facebook makes almost all of its money from selling advertising space to businesses and marketers. According to reports from Statista, Facebook made over $84 billion in advertising revenue in 2020 alone. It’s a big leap from previous years (in part to the various lockdowns worldwide) and those numbers are set to grow.
With almost anyone being able to advertise on Facebook, it feels like no thought goes into the process anymore. This is probably why we see the bizarre examples here and Ads With Threatening Auras has popped up as a result of this too. Carefully constructed campaigns are gone and you see these advertising atrocities here instead.
In trying to define what makes the group so interesting and engaging to users, Áron noted this as well: there’s plenty of adverts with creepy photos or poor word choice that highlight the importance of an editor or an approval process.
“We are surrounded by so many advertisements that just don't feel right. They're either odd, cringe, or weirdly funny,” he said.
“Either way, a somewhat professional team or a big dog at a firm signed it off. That fact highlights that we're only human, and being higher up in the food chain doesn't mean that we're evidently better at PR. I believe the group filled a gap in our lives and created a platform for everyone to go to when they encounter such an ad.”
So long as there are weird adverts, there will always be plenty to share in the group. With over 73K members, I asked Áron to give us his insights into the type of people posting there.
“Our community is very diverse,” he explained. “It's not revolved around a certain age or ethnicity. Most people are there to have a good time and never fail to engage in a conversation with others on a particularly funny or controversial post. I truly enjoy building a like-minded, yet diverse community that can sometimes disagree but express it in an appropriate way.”
Áron said that the “good old Wish ads” are a recurring theme seen in the group too. For those who haven’t had the fortune of seeing one themselves, there are often strange items for sale at incredibly low prices. Check out an earlier article on it here to see more.
He also highlighted how Facebook is to blame for some adverts not reaching their intended audience. He said, “It's also quite thought-provoking how the algorithm offers some absolutely outrageous suggestions, like a bondage bed for elementary students or post-nut clarity article for a father of two.”
Áron finished off with his favorite picks from the group that capture the mood best: “It's hard to pick a favorite but I like the terrible ones like the funeral ad in the subway saying ‘come a little closer’. Or the one passive-aggressively commanding you to download the app because they paid for the ad.”
Let’s hope that “Threatening Aura” is a term that stays a meme and isn’t added to the ‘Marketing 101’ book. All the same, it makes for some great laughs.