The key to your digital ad strategy? Be the content…

So there it is! I’ll just go home now. My work is done.

Well maybe not but I did get thinking about this after reading thisfascinating article that promoted the fact that “you’re more likely to survive a plane crash than click a banner ad”. So how come so much money is spent on a format that annoys and irritates consumers (especially on mobile where up to 50 per cent of clicks are accidental) and generates such a measly return for brands? Why do we still pursue it? Surely there’s much more worthwhile digital things to invest in?

If some of the facts of this article weren’t depressing enough, I was recently reviewing a piece of creative work for a competition that was a massive overlay ad on mobile. Initially, I thought this was interesting (I have to hold my hands up and admit that in the past — under the guise of creativity — I’ve made ads where crazy things jump out uninvited and cause chaos on the page) but this just went on and on and on and on. Several lifetimes later and it’s still going. A creative in my team who was watching it with me, remarked the he “hated these bloody banner ads”. He’s not alone. God forbid that this becomes the standard on mobile.

So how do we stop getting in the way of what consumers want and start being what they want? This is a pretty fundamental shift in advertising thinking and still pretty pioneering. For an eternity, traditional advertising was about shouting brand messages at consumers through media portholes. The world’s changed though and the brands that understand this are already starting to reap the rewards.

Let’s talk about Red Bull for a second. A brand that has invested hugely in branded content and recently ran a TV ad showing it all off. They’ve tapped into the niche area of extreme sports and become a valued broadcaster of the subject matter (mostly on their You Tube channel — read and weep — 2,074,263 subscribers & 540,185,454 video views).

So their advertising is the content — it’s the thing that people want to watch — the stuff that entertains them. It’s not an ad but actually it is. It’s a very modern digital ad that recognises what consumers want and how they want to engage with brands. All the effort the brand would have spent on media and interruption has been spent on content and entertaining their audience.

You could argue that banners increase awareness but I’d argue back and say “What did the Stratos Jump do for Red Bull’s awareness? Sent it into the bloody stratosphere is what it did! 0.1% Click through? Try 8 million people worldwide watching your YouTube’s live stream!”

So how about it? Shall we stop trying to use old fashioned (and partly print-based metaphors) for online advertising and start creating experiences that consumers actually want? Be they entertaining or helpful ones (like branded utilities).

Now here’s the twist: to make those new form digital ads work you do need traffic driving techniques. They don’t need to be banner ads, though. Social media ads have a much more contextual feel to them. They are also much more tailored to promoting content (they offer few gimmicks and really force the content idea to shine). Plus (back to my original reference) there are talks of things like sponsored content posts. And I like the sound of them.

So let’s turn our back on interruptive ads and put the consumer and the medium first. Be the content. Let’s put our efforts into creating something the consumer wants and then use sympathetic traffic driving techniques to show the world our wonderful brand creations. See — there’s life after buying 10 million banners and it’s exciting.

We might not all reach the giddy heights of Red Bull Stratos but there’s lots of room for success below that. Be inspired by…

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Ideas old and new — digital advertising that consumers can get excited about. Content that gives them value.

Links:

Original article – http://www.digiday.com/publishers/15-alarming-stats-about-banner-ads/

Red Bull Stratos numbers – Ol

Red Bull Channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/redbull/

[0]:http://www.digiday.com/publishers/15-alarming-stats-about-banner-ads/
[1]:http://www.youtube.com/user/redbull/
[2]:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/15/red-bull-stratos-marketing_n_1966852.html
[3]:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ3D4CqHbJM
[4]:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE
[5]:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJGk
[6]:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dofacvjRkc
[7]:http://www.mtvunderthethumb.com/
[8]:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87BmETSqxcY