“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
~ Sun Tzu
By now, most Internet users are wise to the ways of marketing, and kind of annoyed by it. The ubiquity of advertising means that many users have pop-up blockers, ad blockers, flash blockers and other apps that keep annoying ads out of their browser. The brutal truth is that ads are annoying. We page past them in publications, skip them when watching television, and get annoyed by click bait. Google has banished Flash support from its Chrome browser and iOS allows the installation of ad-blocking apps. So how is a business supposed to reach their customers?
Well, have you tried talking to them?
Come on, guys. The era of Mad Men, monodirectional, in-your-face and whaddaya-gonna-do-about-it ads is and has been over, and the only people who don’t seem to know that are the ad guys. Even Ad Week, the biggest magazine in the ad business showcases ads that are innovative and successful because they engage the viewer and draw them in, and bring the viewer to identify with the product being advertised. This is equal parts advertising and presenting content, which is defined as timely and relevant information that is fresh and readable, used consistently to keep customers engaged with your brand, and to engage browsers with your brand. In many cases, the people viewing the native ad might not even know it’s an ad – it looks just like a normal feature on your site.
The key to native marketing, in whatever form it takes, is that is has two clear qualities.
- Form: The ads – whether blog entries or in your sidebar – must look as if they belong on your site, as if they are something generated by you, and not placed from outside.
- Function: They have to act like something you would have created expressly for your site that your users would expect to see and interact with.
Placing these kinds of ads on your blog can be a great way to monetize, and while native advertizing is still finding its feet with respect to transparency and privacy concerns, some very big players have a very big interest in getting their ads in front of those eyeballs. Smaller businesses can also leverage native content to local audiences. It’s not just a game for the big shots.
Creating these ads is something that can pay off in a big way, blowing traditional forms of Internet advertising out of the water. They are less intrusive, and more engaging, without the annoying repetitive themes of click bait. People actually like them, and click through, and often go on to engage with the brand. Honestly, I’d love to know what you think is the most annoying ad of all time, and I’d also be very interested in learning what ads you didn’t know were ads until after you clicked.