Who needs web banners in the evolving world of content advertising?

No one. That is the answer to this question. I ask this question and answer it when I’m on a website and my experience is interrupted by intrusive and annoying ads.

Case in point: Wanting to check out how the weather would be like this weekend for Saturday’s baseball game (Go Tigers!), I went to weather.com. When I tried to click on the “5-day forecast” link, an ad had loaded quickly and my cursor went to another link before I could click. Thus, I was taken to some other page (I forget what it was) and it took me that much longer to get to the content I was seeking out. Would I be a traitor to my industry if I downloaded Chrome’s add on Adblocker?

Rule of thumb for web ads: DO NOT GET IN THE WAY OF WHAT A USER IS TRYING TO DO!

Dammit you web banner! I didn't want to click on you but you loaded so slow that you moved to the location I actually DID want to click!

Dammit you web banner! I didn’t want to click on you but you loaded so slow that you moved to the location I actually DID want to click!

The web has changed, and so has the need to use banner ads. It’s a mournful notion, I know, as I work at an ad agency. But web advertising is one area that is evolving rapidly and advertisers need to evolve even faster.

For example, have you seen buzzfeed lately? No banner ads, but they have an “efficiency manager” from GE that organizes the site based on content you’re interested in.

Efficiency Machine by GE for buzz feed.

The GE efficiency machine on buzzfeed organizes the site for you.

Seen the NYTimes.com interactive ad for Prudential? You enter your birthday and you are shown the front page of NT Times on your day of birth. The lead into Prudentials’ site:

Prudential’s interactive ad on NYTimes.com lets you see the front page of New York times as it was on your birthday.

Banner ads won’t go completely away, but will go away as we know them. Instead of being that block of pixels we now avoid when reading an article or the slow loading nemesis for your click, banner ads will need to transform into a conduit between the content we already seek (or would already be interested in) into the advertiser’s intention.

Also, I won’t be downloading adblock for Chrome. If I can’t see how ineffective some ads are for site, I’m making myself useless in recommending what advertisings/sites/publishers should and should not be doing.

Happy writers, quality content, and a (hopefully) engaging audience

Recently, writers have been asked to write for free at reputable publications (like Nate Thayer and The Atlantic Affair). This is obviously an increasing problem for journalists who earn a living with writing.

Meanwhile, content marketing/native advertising is revealing itself to be the future of advertising (at least in the coming years). However, you can’t just whip up native advertising or content marketing (at least not good quality content anyways). It’s a new area that requires so much time to develop, and the ROI hasn’t been quite defined just yet.

Enter Contently, a new platform linking freelancers with brands wanting to engage on a deeper level with audiences. This is not only promising for companies, but may help instill the notion that just because there’s a proliferation of free content available these days doesn’t mean that writers should be running out of outlets where they can earn what is deserved for quality content.

Contently is paving the way for brands to find writers for content marketing.

Contently is paving the way for brands to find writers for content marketing.

The only question left is will content advertising work? Meaning, will the ROI be too low that brands/publishers pull out. Content marketing/Native advertising is relatively new, so we can only see how this new territory pans out for companies in the next couple of years.

My vote is that for right now quality content is king, and so the Contently model helps everyone win: The audience receives relevant quality content, brands reach their audience on a deeper level, and freelancers get paid for doing what they love when so many publishing platforms are unable (or unwilling) to provide the option.

Ad agencies should be in front of content advertising, not afraid of it.

I love buzzfeed. I go to buzzfeed at least once a day. I am not alone.

The articles/posts on the site are what people want to read/laugh it/gain info from/share with others. They’re also tailored for the increasing number of people with decreasing attention span.

The key though, is that the site offers information (be it entertainment/news/pictures of cats) that readers are interested in and have a high probability of sharing. Admittedly, this isn’t very difficult. People like seeing pictures of puppies and read articles like “25 problems that desperately need to be solved”. This key is an invaluable tool to advertisers on the site. I’m not talking banner ads, I’ve talking the digital version of the print advertorial. Just as the goal of a print advertorial is to blend somewhat seamlessly in a publication, the sponsored content on buzzfeed aims to blend seamlessly with the content of the site.

 

Content/Native Advertising leader?

Content/Native Advertising leader?

 

For example, headlines for articles of interest would include “The 42 Best Moments Ever on Maury“, “21 Shirts That Shouldn’t Exist in Kid’s Sizes‘”, and “38 Things to Drink Instead of Booze“. These would all be articles written by buzzfeed staff and bloggers for your entertainment. There could also be another article of interest with the headline “20 reasons to remember to log out” or “19 Mindblowing Historical Doppelgangers“. These two articles provide entertainment (or day wasting) to individuals. Actual content that individuals would click on and read (and maybe even share). Both are sponsored by Virgin Mobile.

These two articles are just sponsored by Virgin Mobile (you can join the conversation at the provide hastag #breakfree, but there is no explicit offer for a product or service. Other sponsors will have interesting content geared toward a product or service. Some sponsors aren’t so good with the interesting content aspect.

So, there are advantages to using this platform of social advertising.

1) Your branded content is among content that readers will be interested in.

2) Ad advertiser can tailor their content.

3) High probability of being shared online.

Anyways, according to this article on Adweek by Lucia Moses, this type of advertising is growing and is bad news for ad agencies. I must say, I wholeheartedly disagree. This is the type of advertising that ad agencies should be getting in front of and becoming the masters as (instead of the online publishers).