By: Ryan Laffler, Account Manager & Digital Director
Display ads, the advertisements that you see on the top and sidebars of almost every webpage nowadays, are in decline. One part of the problem is that they are rarely relevant to the user. While this has changed somewhat with Google Adsense’s targeting algorithm, it started to run up against another problem: most users can now easily recognize what is an ad and what isn’t. It’s no secret that people tend to avoid advertisements if they can help it. Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today. That’s a LOT of advertising. Not only does this make it increasingly difficult for brands to reach their target audiences, but it also desensitizes people to advertising.
Take display ads, for example. Since most of us know where they’re typically located on a website, we tend to ignore them altogether and keep our focus on the middle of the page. According to SmartInsights.com, across all ad formats and placements, the average click-thru-rate is 0.17%. In other words, that means that for every 1,000 people that see an ad, less than two people will click on it. It’s not all bad news for display ads, though. While they may not be great at driving conversions, adept marketers and advertising agencies are now using them for targeted brand awareness campaigns.
This desensitization is not just limited to display ads – TV commercials are also struggling to keep up with the times. While TV advertising remains one of the most memorable forms of advertising, The Guardian reported in 2010 that nearly 90% of viewers skip through commercials with their digital video recorder (TiVo, for example). How in the world are brands expected to get in front of their target audience when they are actively trying to avoid ads? The keyword is relevancy.
Relevancy is at the heart of native advertising. According to ShareThrough.com, “Native Advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” Native ads must match the visual design of the experience they exist in and function just like natural content. This keeps the ad from disrupting the user experience, while simultaneously providing the user with high-quality, relevant content.
A great example of this involves Yeti, an outdoor cooler manufacturer, and the A&E Network, of which the History channel is a part of. Yeti just became the first sponsor of A&E Network’s branded-content block of programming and will air “Wild History,” a programming slate targeting the outdoor adventurer with limited commercial interruptions. The programming block will feature some of History’s original content as well as short-form films from Yeti. Billed “Wild History”, the partnership gives Yeti a chance to market themselves to a highly qualified audience less intrusively than with regular commercial programming. For users, they get to experience limited commercial interruptions. It’s a win-win!
Native advertising also has many forms online, with brands now producing sponsored content on highly-qualified websites rather than just pushing display ads. For example, Garden & Gun magazine may sponsor a blog post on Cabela’s website for a fee. Though the blog post is identified as “Sponsored,” if done correctly, the content of the post will be relevant to Cabela’s audience, likely driving traffic to Garden & Gun’s website and establishing them as an authority on the topic. This partnership between publishers and advertisers is the kind of synergy the Internet has been waiting for!
While display ads, TV commercials, and other forms of traditional advertising aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, it appears that native advertising is here to stay. And that’s a good thing! Fortunately, The Goss Agency specializes in content-driven marketing and native advertising. To get a project quote and find out how The Goss Agency can help your brand reach your target audience in the most effective and relevant way possible, email Dari Mullins at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (828)259-9910 x110.