It’s time to tackle the viewability challenge
As we have seen this year, the buzz around “native advertising” and branded content couldn’t be hotter. Brands such as YouTube, Old Spice and Red Bull are ahead of the pack, producing slick, compelling content that offers real value to consumers who happen to engage with it. But something is missing from this equation. Why aren’t we seeing the disappearance of the standard, boring banner ad in this groundswell of exciting branded content? Due to the very same factor that’s making display ads less and less effective: the viewability issue.
It’s all well and good for a food brand to produce great recipe content that people - all things being equal - should want to/need to read, watch, look at and click on. But the missing step is about getting that content surfaced, viewed and discovered.
I’m already preaching to all the converted brands out there investing millions (some in the industry estimate that up to 25% of marketing budgets are shifting to social media and content production); you are spending a lot of money, so why not make the most of it?
Get in the content
As Mathew Ingram said recently in GigaOm, in this world of “streams,” with Twitter, Facebook and new content platforms eating up more of our time, everyone wants to create native ads that are non-intrusive and break out of the banner box. As well, if we move toward a “prettier” and cleaner Web (as Choire Sicha has anticipated), with fewer display ad boxes, there will be an even greater rush toward native content-ad opportunities.
What’s the best model to follow? Folks from Tumblr to Buzzfeed have been getting traction for sponsored content or sponsored image galleries and they will continue to be effective for certain brand and publishing platforms. But my colleagues in the industry say that what really has them excited is “in-content” contextual placements: literally going into the stream of editorial images and text to create discovery among consumers.
Let consumers drive, but don’t roadblock
Consumers are reading articles on their laptops, desktops and tablets. They are checking out images on mobile sites and apps on their phones. All of these become contextual branded content and advertising opportunities. It’s time for brands to be focused where consumers are focusing their attention: the edit well.
Research conducted by Vibrant and others proves that consumers want to engage with ads and content that are contextually relevant, when they have the choice whether or not to engage (user-initiation), and when they have control over the text, video or rich media experience. This is a good lesson for marketers who, as consumers themselves, can recall the many points of frustration when an irrelevant ad came between them and the content they wanted to consume.
It’s also critically important that we as marketers have our “Peter Parker” moment and keep in mind that with great powerful contextual technology comes great creative responsibility – you have asked the consumer to engage, you better be engaging.
And that is what’s most important to remember: the consumer must be at the centre of everything we do. As marketers, it is our responsibility to create advertising and content that is in the interest of these consumers.
Vibrant Media is the world’s leading provider of in-content contextual technology that gets brand content and advertising discovered across platforms. With over 6,500 premium publishers, reaching more than 250 million unique users per month (comScore, 2012), Vibrant gives top brand marketers the opportunity to deliver highly targeted advertisements and branded content within text and images. Vibrant works with top brand advertisers such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, P&G, Sainsbury’s and Unilever.
The company was founded in 2000 and has offices in New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, London, Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf. For more information, visit www.vibrantmedia.co.uk or www.facebook.com/vibrantmedia or twitter.com/vibrantmediauk. Vibrant’s blog with insights on the digital marketing industry can be found at www.RelevanceMatters.com.