All of it has combined to create a real-time, real-life messy situation
that leaves the IAB and advertisers at large the unenviable task of
trying to recoup an estimated $21.8 billion in publishers’ lost ad
revenues in 2015 – that projection floated last August by Adobe and
PageFair (an anti-blocking agency).
But, while those numbers all indicate a growing trend of a shrinking
appetite for advertising, especially through mobile, what then should
marketers take away from the juxtaposed reality that even basic
analytics prove somebody is clicking, liking, and sharing their ads?
For marketers, it underscores the crucial necessity for well-executed
marketing concepts that fall outside of basic, blockable ads but still
market a brand, service, product, or, for auction professionals, assets.
Consumers: Give us a quality experience
Regardless of your marketing medium, advertising doctrine these days
dictates two things: quality matters; and, you are only as good as your
next ad. Look no farther than the annual, highly-anticipated advertising
showcase also known as the Super Bowl.
Consumers clamor for the event – many of whom have no interest in
football. They want the ads. It’s just that they aren’t afraid to rip
apart ads – including those from longstanding power brands – that don’t
meet high entertainment standards. Digital advertisers now have that
pressure, along with ad blockers, as they continue to try to wedge into
and enhance the consumer experience.
As we go on, let’s keep in mind that an optimal consumer experience involves their:
1) Exploration and discovery – While okay with brand familiarity,
consumers are more willing than ever to explore and educate themselves.
Reward them for that courage by showing or teaching them something of
real value. It will keep them interested.
2) Aversion to disruption – The usual digital ad killer for consumers?
Pop-ups, hard-to-find close buttons, and loud audio – it is all
intrusive and disruptive. Your ad is a guest in a consumer’s online
house. It should act accordingly. If not, it annoys the consumption
experience and gets ignored and/or blocked. The end.
3) Control – Most of the experience is based here. Consumers want to
navigate where they want, when they want, and see what they want. If
your advertising hinders that flow (including if your ad takes a long
time to load on a page), you’re going to be identified as a foe, not
friend. If that happens, you can kiss the rest of your chances at
winning a new client goodbye.
Thankfully, all three of these core characteristics can be achieved
through a couple of evolved concepts – native advertising and content
Beat Ad Blockers: Native advertising
Traditionally, native advertising is a form of paid media (you pay for
it to be placed) in which your ad behaves just like its surrounding
environment. The easiest examples are social media feeds.
Think of “suggested posts”, “promoted”, or “suggested post” items you
see in your Facebook timeline. Those ads, called “In-Feed Native Ads”
(as defined by the IAB Native Advertising Task Force), act like posts
and follow all the rules of a regular post. The only difference between
those and regular posts is that someone paid for them to show up in
front of you.
Other acceptable forms of native ads per the Task Force include: Search
& Promoted Listings; Content Recommendation Widgets (“from around
the web” or “recommended for you”)*; and, Custom Content Units (landing
pages presented as content but with obvious brand placement).
*In 2016, NAA has successfully used content pusher Outbrain – a native
ad Widget. Working on a cost-per-click model, NAA content has been
pushed more than one million times to a national audience over dozens of
major sites that include: CNN.com, Answers.com, The Dallas Morning
News, The New York Post, Health.com, and ESPN.com. The “50 days of
Outbrain” campaign achieved a cost-per-click average of $.12 and cost an
approximate, very budget-friendly $309.
All of those native options achieve the three characteristics explained
above. And, as you may have noticed, content is a major theme, which
leads back out to the broader concept of content marketing.
Beat Ad Blockers: Content marketing
If it hasn’t become obvious by now, content drives the bus in a lot of ways in today’s marketing environment.
Content marketing has become popular because it may very well be the
purest methodology in terms of its ability to educate, avoid annoying
disruption, and provide control for a consumer all while marketing your
service or product. In other words, it is the premium way to enhance the
optimal consumer experience.
While you certainly can employ a paid-media approach (i.e.,
advertorials), maximizing your owned-media opportunities is the
budget-friendly way to go. Put content – videos, blogs, images, etc. –
on your own site and then push it out. Let your site become a content
& educational destination. It will become part of your brand image,
and as your content is discovered, may lead to additional earned-media
The consumer landscape has asked for connection and storytelling as
two-way B-2-C relationships have developed. Consumers want to know more
about “you” as opposed to simply buying something from you. You have to
be ready to cater to that need.
Smart content and solid native advertising approaches will do the trick,
and you’ll have the added bonus of knowing you’re adding to consumer
experience instead of getting blocked from it.