It’s time for ‘old’ and ‘new’ media to stop fighting and start talking – the future of advertising depends on it.
This week, whilst trawling Twitter for my regular fix, I stumbled across the launch of a new device called Adtrap on CNN. This newborn US product promises to block all digital advertising by sitting between the router and modem and blocking any ad call to a device using that connection.
This could become a very “big deal”, and it made me think about the implications for advertising if the price dropped and became mainstream (AdTrap is currently in the think-twice-before-buying price point of $140 (just over £85).
The web has been built on the principle that content is free and ads and data collection are the value exchange. The trade-off is that users expect and accept advertising in exchange for services such as Gmail, Facebook or, indeed, CNN at their fingertips. But what happens if people stop tolerating this because the advertising is overly intrusive and annoying ? We have all visited web pages where there are more ads than content, or been hit by re-targeting where it feels like an ad is stalking you based on previous browsing behaviour.
The premise of our (Havas) Meaningful Brands belief is that brands today have a much tougher task to have resonant relevance, and therefore must become more valuable to people’s lives to cut through. A product like AdTrap adds another layer of resistance to the widespread mental block – out of brands; only 7% of Brits would care if a brand vanished overnight. (Source: Havas Meaningful Brands Study)
But what is interesting to me about this new anti-ad technology is that it emphasises how essential the current technology and data revolution is to the future of marketing, as it provides the ability and agility for relevant, useful advertising to be put in front of the right people at the right time. In short, it provides the platform for brands to be meaningful.
However, the two warring factions in the media owner fraternity are getting in the way (save a few progressive properties that digitised early). Those that have a successful legacy models built on the back of selling mass reach fear this digital and data revolution will unfairly undermine their business models. Meanwhile those which have a data driven, digital model promising precision targeting are desperately trying to convince they can deliver scale.
It’s time for the conversation to change and move away from a debate about content versus technology (as many broadcasters are framing it). Smart brands are looking to leverage content combined with the power of technology because it promises both impact and efficiency. Sky’s Adsmart is a great example of an invention that unites the two, but the debate is whether it will ever be stretched enough to deliver the broadcast scale needed by many brands.
For me, the really smart thing about bringing technology and content together is when you are unable to tell the difference between content and advertising. We already have a nascent term for this; “branded content” refers to an advertising message with takes the form of entertaining content. Technology furthers the opportunity by allowing a brand to deliver a relevant “experience” through content, not simply advertise the fact that this experience exists.
Good advertising blurs the lines hence the rise of the term “native advertising”, which is smartly placed advertising that camouflages itself beautifully within the environment around it. Today, branded content and native advertising only account for a single digit percentage of ad spend, but they offer a window in to the future of all advertising.
If you combine this developing advertising creativity with the power of data, you get contextual fit plus an optimised experience based on previous behaviour, significantly increasing the likely relevance of the message.
If all advertising was like this, why would I even consider forking out 85 quid for AdTrap ?
I ,for one, am getting a little tired of the vehement claims from the legacy media owner world that channels like search and social are the emperor’s new clothes. I’m equally dismayed by the digital pretenders who talk about all TV consumption now being digital.
Neither is true. It’s not about one or the other. The best opportunities exist when brands leverage the power of all of these channels to enhance the experience (in fact it is becoming increasingly difficult, rightly, to describe a media plan by channels). The impact of TV, combined with a social experience, easy to find Google content, all delivered via a tablet, is just undeniably better and sexier than a 30” TV spot alone. How many broadcasters do you hear telling you this story though? In contrast, if you look to the OOH industry, there are more vocal advocates of the opportunity that digital brings to a broadcast medium.
There is no excuse for a dead end in media anymore; any impact is a chance to extend a dialogue and engage with a consumer. So can we please do away with the scrapping between ‘old’ and ‘new’ media and instead talk about how technology and data can connect both?
Marketers, media owners and agency folk; we all need to be able to talk two languages and to translate between the two. Being quintessentially British and refuting the need to speak more than one language is no longer good enough.
Let’s elevate the conversation to be about how we deliver more relevant, valuable experiences for people, not obsess about which medium is the best. That way, we will collectively protect the industry against the potential ambush from technology such as Adtrap.