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Ads. It’s A Love-Hate-Ignore Thing.
As a consumer you’re sick of being bombarded by them. As a business you need them to help you get noticed. For content publishers big and small, they’re what keep you in business.
If we want to continue to enjoy free content – and also market ourselves – ads are kind of a necessary evil.
Today we talk with Rob Beeler of AdMonsters about both sides of the marketing coin: the noise ads create but the need they fill for both publishers and businesses.
But I Love Free Stuff!
So do we, but if you’re creating content for your business then you understand the amount of work that goes into it. And you understand that you need to make money as a direct or indirect result of that content.
For many small businesses content makes them money by bringing in leads and customers.
For others, advertising itself is a source of revenue.
Without one of those, content creation is just a super time-consuming hobby.
It’s Not All Popups And Banners.
The hottest new trend in advertising is “native advertising.”
And by hottest new trend I mean something that has always existed but has a fancy new name now.
It used to be called “advertorial.”
Now it’s called “native advertising” and you’ll recognize it in papers, magazines and even on websites and blogs as “sponsored content.”
It’s caused a bit of a ruckus lately because the internet loves a ruckus, but it’s essentially brand-funded content published in someone else’s publication.
For example, you may be reading along, learning about the latest earthquake, the recent FIFA scandal and some great news in health that recommends eating whole grains for breakfast. Except that last piece is paid for by Kellogg’s.
Yup, it can be. The problem with sponsored content is that there is a very fine line between creating ad content that blends in without disrupting a reader’s experience and creating ad content that’s pretending to be news but is really just pushing a product.
Thus, the ruckus… especially about a particular piece placed in The Atlantic that was sponsored by Scientology.
Turns out there were a few problems with that. For one, the advertorial was indistinguishable enough from the regular content that it fooled people into believing it was an article written by the publication.
For another, the comments were moderated so that nothing critical of Scientology was allowed through.
But as Rob points out, perhaps the most egregious error was that The Atlantic has such a superior reputation for excellence that this poorly placed and managed ad has had serious ramifications for the publication’s credibility.
John Oliver did a great comedy sketch about the issue that you can enjoy here.
So How Do You Support Content Without Ads?
Good question. So far few people have figured that out. Rob mentions Business Insider as a good example of a company thinking past ads to event planning for revenue generation.
Other publishers have put up pay walls that require a paid online subscription if you want to read their content. Some websites ask kindly that you contribute to their funding if you love the content.
It’s a tough nut to crack, but even without the disruption factor, the truth is that on the flip side, businesses need to get their products and services in front of people, and one good way to do that is with ads.
Is The Internet Mummifying Us?
We brought up the question of whether it makes sense to retarget people with ads. You know how an ad seems to follow you across the Internet? You browse a pair of shoes at Zappos and next thing you know those shoes show up on Facebook, Google and everywhere?
That’s called retargeting and even the smallest of businesses can set up ad retargeting. But are those really effective, especially since you either don’t want the thing or already bought the thing?
Rob says… probably not, but it’s so darn cheap to do that it’s a pretty good option anyway.
But They’re Tracking My Every Move!
No, that’s the NSA. Actually, Rob says, ad servers (and businesses) have no idea who you are. You’re just a bunch of data.
“Entity who visited Zappos.”
Sometimes that data be cross-referenced as you traverse the Internet so you are also “Entity who clicked on ad for Carnival Cruise.”
But nobody knows your name or who you are or where you are.
Ads Are Dumb.
Literally. Ad servers and ad technology haven’t changed much in 15 years even though the Internet has evolved exponentially.
In spite of the fact that you may feel bombarded with ads on the Internet, TV is still your best bet if you’ve got a few million lying around. TV ads have a measurably high return, old as the technology is. Yet Internet ads, for all their ubiquity, don’t return as well.
In fact, Rob says, mobile ads give you the worst return of all.
Rob thinks the future of mobile advertising will be in great creative, video and even the dreaded sponsored content. The key is to make the experience seamless.
Rob Ponders Starting A Hello Kitty Website
He thinks there isn’t any scale there, but we beg to differ. Between Carol Lynn and SuperFred Tammie Rampley, they are bound to keep him in business.
What about Triberr?
One of the components of Triberr is campaigns, where a brand can hire bloggers to write about a product or service and pay them to do it.
We could get paid a couple hundred bucks for writing a post about a product right here on Web.Search.Social.
But what would that do to our credibility?
What does it do to the credibility of the bloggers who get paid to talk about products?
Rob thinks it all boils down to authenticity.
If the content is created in an authentic way, by authentic people who have already earned the trust of their audience then the content can be trusted, even if someone else pays it for.
Sounds true, but still we wonder: if we wrote an article about our favorite contact manager, Insightly, and then we wrote another article that Insightly paid us to write, would they be equally trustworthy in the eyes of our readers?
The good news about Triberr is that content creators have full editorial control so they can write about the good, bad and ugly without needing approval from the brand.
Authenticity plus editorial control can go a long way to resolving a lot of the problems with native advertising.
So What Does The Future Of Advertising Look Like?
Ads are noise, and lots of it. Rob thinks that businesses are just going to have to get more creative and create different experiences.
He mentioned the recent Budweiser “up for whatever” debacle and even though they missed the mark on that one, Rob is glad to see someone trying something different, experimenting and creating new experiences. Next time, though, maybe think it through…
Facebook: Delivering Quality Or Adding To The Noise?
Facebook lets everyone be their own ad operations manager. You can easily create, set up and hyper target ads to people based on geography, interests, gender and plenty more.
Is that better for keeping the noise level down, or is it just making it that much easier to add to the noise?
Good question, but Rob says everything on Facebook is noise, and that’s how they generate revenue.
Plus Rob admits to targeting himself with ads, which is kind of weird, but an interesting experiment.
Your Marketing Action Item
From Rob: He’s got two for you today!
Second, check your own noise level. Don’t believe that everything you do is essential to your consumer. You don’t need to bombard people with ads or content and chase them down. More can sometimes be less.
Go for thoughtful, high quality content instead, and that’s what will cut through the noise.
Links & Resources
- Visit AdMonsters.com for lots of content about ads and info about upcoming events
- Learn more about the ad event in New York on June 9
- Follow Rob on Twitter @rbeeler
- Follow AdMonsters on Twitter @AdMonsters
- Email Rob at [email protected] and get hooked up with the ad event in New York
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