Every movement begins with a moment.
If 2014 was the year of mobile, 2015 is definitely the year of content. It is more challenging than ever to captivate an audience with a banner ad. The path to purchase is no longer linear, and brands are having a difficult time attributing sales to a click. Consumers are jaded because they are bombarded with ads on a daily basis, inviting them to take an action that brings little if any value to their daily lives. And when consumers do engage with ads, brands are instantly wary due to the fraudulent activity in the space. That’s why content marketing reigns supreme.
Content marketing gives brands a platform to organically engage consumers. It’s one-on-one communication between a brand and a consumer, with limited interruptions. It’s also a great alternative to standard display, given the foretold fall of the banner ad. Most digital advertising is a turnoff — it’s blatant, obtrusive and interrupts the exchange of value between a site and its reader. When content marketing is done right, it becomes a bridge that connects the brand with the consumer in a meaningful, relevant way, without negatively disrupting the experience.
The problem with native
Native is paid content — videos, articles, images, etc. — that emulates the look and feel of the publishing platform. Executed properly, it fulfills a utilitarian need. New players are entering the space on a daily basis, providing brands with different ways to approach native. As advertisers, we are challenged to sift through native’s myriad options to find the best solutions for our brands. Whether you are working on a direct response or a branding campaign, the key is to have really good content. If not — and this happens a lot — you end up with native ads that are out of place. Although these ads look as if they are a part of the site, they bear a close resemblance to traditional media, as the focus of the message is very product oriented.
Native must live up to its name
Native advertising should be seamlessly inconspicuous. Creating content that mirrors the experience of the environment is not enough. It has to be compelling, and it must bring about value. The ads should give consumers a reason to believe in your product or, at the least, spark a bit of curiosity. Sci-fi film “Ex Machina,” for example, made its debut at SXSW on dating app Tinder. The marketing team for the movie created a Tinder account for Ava, the half-robot, half-human lead character in the film. Unsuspecting swipers were asked a few questions and then driven to the movie’s promotional Instagram page. Although the campaign has received mixed reviews from the public, it effectively drove awareness of the film leading up to its premiere at SXSW.
The opportunity for brands
Now is the time to turn marketing budgets into content dollars. The advent of social has created an opportunity to engage consumers in real time, and there has been a huge shift in media consumption. Forrester has projected that digital will represent 36% of all U.S. ad spending by 2019. Netflix streaming has increased 350% during the last ten quarters, and it is expected to grow fourfold from 2010 to 2020. As digital advertising continues to grow, the need for content will follow suit. If brands are able to merge the two, they will win in 2015.
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