Traditional advertising is quickly becoming less relevant; people hate interruptions, look for more information, and have more power than they have ever had before. I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but I cannot express enough how important it is to stay current. The sure way to become a market leader (and a marketing leader) is not just simply waiting to see what everybody else does. Yes, that means that you have to step away from your Mad Men ways.
Let me give you two things to sit and think about: programmatic ad buying and native advertising. First, let me mention they could not be more different, however, you will notice they have some similarities. Both are somewhat controversial and most people are on the fence about both techniques. Let’s talk a little bit about both.
Programmatic ad buying involves automated, auction based buying of ads online. Ad Week calls it “advertising’s newer, better mousetrap” because it allows you to get at specific audiences based on data. Basically, programmatic ad buying takes data, makes a selection of what screen it should be placed on, allows you to decide the best strategy and other non-manual choices. The reason why people are loving programmatic ad buying is the capability of the platform to optimize and automate. Its cross-device focus is arguably its most sought after quality. As a marketer in the twenty-first century, we know how important it is to use digital to reach audiences, and as a millennial, I know that most of these audiences are using multiple devices. The key takeaway here is while individuals are using multiple devices, their interaction with each device varies greatly. Cookies (not the chocolate chip kind, the computer kind) allow for data to be received and analyzed on the multi-device landscape. Like I said, this knowledge about interaction is huge, but the strength of programmatic is also it’s greatest weakness. Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical about privacy levels on the web.
Which leads me into a different approach…
Native advertising is the combination of reporting and advertising techniques to create an editorial-style promotion. Ads in their traditional form tend to rattle off their value proposition and hope the bate hooks. Instead of this, native advertising approaches advertising as an opportunity to do a little story telling. When people don’t buy into the cheesy overdone ads and want to hear more from real people, editorial is great for this, but lack of trust is a weakness. You’ve probably come across native advertising, you just didn’t know it, and that creeps people out. Another weakness among skeptics is the viability. In opposition to the data heavy programmatic, it is hard to get any telling metrics on native advertising. Usually targeted at a niche market, native tends to lack analytics based on audience targeting and success. At this point it’s kind of like throwing a line out there and without any knowledge for the chance of a bite. This is a data focused marketer’s worst nightmare; without a steady measure of ROI, native has hype and controversy.
One thing that both programmatic and native advertising can relate to is the power of buzz.
Not only do people love throwing around those terms to sound in-the-know, but both have captured attention of media. Native advertising seems to be a blurred line for many, and recently Alex Blumberg’s Startup faced some bad PR… and some good PR. Native ads are easily seen as manipulative or conversely as providing a more honest candid look at a business. An obvious transparency issue is ahead with native. The editorial style ads have the opportunity for deception and it becomes increasingly important for businesses to operate with humility. Never underestimate your capacity for self-deception people. The buzz behind programmatic ad buying focuses on transparency in a different way. Information protection is an online security concern for many and without this individual data, it is nearly impossible to get your ad in a relevant, quality spot. Big players like Facebook and Google inherently know these things about individuals, but what if you aren’t Google or Facebook? ComScore aims to alleviate this transparency problem by providing insights into the quality of space businesses are buying.
So what does this all mean? Now that we have these two new innovative strategies for advertising, how do we implement them? Transparency is one of the most important aspects of both native and programmatic advertising. The adoption curve of both methods has not been smooth; there has been some trouble crossing the chasm and gaining the loyalty of the skeptics in the marketing sphere. Older more traditional marketers hate the idea of automation with programmatic, and creatives are afraid of losing their job to a bunch of number obsessed people. These individuals should be less worried about losing their job, and more worried about how they can employ these techniques in addition to their current efforts.
Okay, I know your clients are on tight promotional budgets and your desk is slammed with copy and projects in progress. I’ll let you in on a little secret: you might already be making great native and programmatic material, you just call it something else. For example, Facebook and Google AdWord promotions translate nicely to programmatic, and blog content is a great start to native advertising. Creativity and people still fit into the equation, I promise. You will have a broader more encompassing strategy with native and programmatic, all you need is a smart (and creative) marketer to fuel the fire. Don’t let fear of new things leave you in the dust- you wouldn’t want to spend your career on the coattails of someone else, so be a part of the change!