Wolves, rivers and ad blockers (environmental and marketing ecosystems)

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This video has stuck with me for the last few days.

Posted by Atchuup on Monday, 28 July 2014

This video raises some intriguing questions and observations. It seems the reintroduction of the wolves — whose big thing is eating deer — has reinvigorated Yellowstone Park’s ecosystem in ways you may find surprising. It turns out the “big bad wolf” has restored life to the area — and even changed the river’s behaviour.

Now let’s switch gears and think about marketing ecosystems; where actions in one marketing area can impact others.

Right now, there is a trend towards the introduction of ad blockers on applications viewing websites. If you use one of these tools, the ads will disappear.

Not surprisingly, sites which depend on advertising for their viability are screaming “unfair” — after all, if you want free content, should you not need to at least pay for it with some advertising. But the argument goes that the ad blockers have become a valid defence against ignorant, offensive, and irritating advertisements — ones with loud sound, pop-ups that intrude on our viewing, and perhaps are so highly targeted so they seem creepy and stalking-like, or are outright offensive.

adblockers
Ad blockers: What is their impact on the online marketing ecosystem, and how will they influence your construction marketing decisions?

But who should determine what ads we should, or should not receive? Who sets the controls?

What will the implications of widespread ad blocker use be on both small businesses which depend/require the advertising revenue, or use the advertising to find new clients? And what will this trend mean for big businesses, like Google or Facebook?

I wish I could provide the answers and we could determine the solution by either reintroducing or removing one or two variables. There don’t seem to be wolf-reintroduction solutions at hand.

However, as marketers (and publishers) we can consider the likely impact of ad blockers and how they could change our strategies.

I expect the argument will be to focus less on advertising than content generation — producing useful, valuable and effective material that viewers/readers will not see as “advertising”.  And I expect publishers will move increasingly to so-called “native” advertising, really an extension of the print and broadcast media advertorial, where businesses pay publishers for controlled positive editorial content. (The advertorial has been the foundation of our business since its inception 20 years ago; and continues to provide value to advertising clients because of its ability to be multi-purposed with a relatively long and effective marketing shelf-life.)

If you sense a synergy between these two directions, I think you’re sharing my vision. Publishers will increasingly work with businesses to produce compelling content with intrinsic value and relevance, packaged in a manner to properly reflect their clients’ interests.

There will be ethical issues regarding disclosure — but these can be handled through disclaimers.

Of course, as the world/media space fills with more and more advertorial content, there will be less and less room, I fear, for genuine independent news/editorial content. Journalism, as we know it, may suffer. However, I expect the services and sites which publish enough genuine editorial content with real controversy and independence will attract the most eyeballs for the sponsored content, so we’ll end up okay.

Conclusion: Think content — the conventional ad, as we know it (at least online) may be an endangered species.

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