No More Disruption, No More Ads?

By Echelon.

Published on March 10, 2015 with No Comments

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Advertising has traditionally relied on a simple strategy – find a newspaper article or TV or radio show that will attract target consumers and disrupt them with ads while they consume the content. This was a simple and efficient model which gave birth to a media selling industry worth billions, global advertising agencies and the world’s first mass consumer brands.While still largely practiced for the lack of a better alternative, disruptive advertising is becoming increasingly less efficient at commanding eye-balls. If current trends continue the practice is likely to become completely obsolete within the next few decades.

Media no longer has the power to hold audiences captive the way it once did. Readership of almost all printed magazine and newspapers in the world is in steady decline. In response most publishers have gone online, but the internet is a harsh landscape for advertisements. Readers scroll past ads and have a plethora of alternative sites when they are bombarded with ads or forced to wait/watch ads before accessing content. Competition to attract readers is immense and has given rise to a new genre of ‘click bait’ styled online journalism. Increasingly sophisticated methods of defrauding pay-per-click advertising campaigns such as using electronic bots to click on ads is making advertisers rethink online investments.

So what does this mean for the key players in this market? People are increasingly turning to online streaming services and digital recording devices (DVRs) to watch their favourite shows at their convenience. These methods are allowing viewers to by-pass ads and at the same time restricting opportunities for advertisers to capture live audiences. Some technologists predict that in future only sporting events will attract large scale live audiences. Overall the future for television as distributors of content looks bleak. Investors will be better served by buying into content creators – studios and sports teams. Big money already backs most large studios, but this line of reasoning should drive more investors to sports going forward. As captive audiences become scarce, the demand for anyone who can deliver one should increase. For this reason radio stations are set to do well. At least until traffic jams exist, leaving cooped up passengers with few other choices for entertainment. TV screens on buses, trains, waiting rooms – just about anywhere where people are forced to wait long enough to be engaged, are likely to attract more advertisers.

For studios, artists and other media content creators the death of disruptive advertising will throw up both opportunities and challenges. Designating a few slots for advertisers within their content and selling these to the highest bidder is a simple and straightforward route to revenue. However as advertisers become less interested in ad slots and more interested in mixing their message into the core material, artists and producers would have to think about product placements etc. to commercialize their content, at the risk of becoming a mouth-piece for a brand.

The strict line between content and advertising is already blurred. Besides paid for media slots, advertisers are increasingly striving to reach lager audiences through viral campaigns. For an ad to go ‘viral’ or be shared by viewers with their friends the content must be either useful or interesting. Thus, advertisers are increasingly coming up with ads that resemble short films, stories etc than the 30 second plugs we are more used to.The decline of disruptive advertising is levelling the playing field for advertisers. Bigger brands with deeper pockets have less of an advantage as high spending on media no longer guarantees high visibility. Smaller more daring and creative competitors may even have an edge over larger more established brands as sharing over social networks plays an increasingly important role in determining visibility.

As cutting through the clutter of modern media becomes increasingly challenging, the concept of advertising itself is changing. Instead of bombarding people with ads, the focus is shifting to ‘permission advertising’ the term coined by marketing guru Seth Godin for media campaigns that require people ‘opting-in’ to receive useful content from advertisers. Brands that buy into this philosophy are seeking to become sought after consultants and thought leaders that consumers reach out to, rather than the other way around. This would indeed be a far cry from the irritating disruption that advertising is today.

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