Message to advertisers – give us useful content

message to advertisers give us useful content

Consumers don’t want to be interrupted by advertisements but they do want quality storytelling – writes Scott Guthrie

Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the 12 months to June 2015. In the UK ad blocking grew by 82% to reach 12 million active users in the same period according to a report by PageFair.

Ad blocking is what you get after 20 years of laziness by advertisers in the digital space.

First advertisers created the banner ad. We let brands know we hated banners by refusing to click through. So advertisers created pop-ups. Like an industry-wide brainstorming session focused on how to make digital advertising more irritating to consumers and less productive to their brands’ bottom lines.

Hugh MacLeod, co-founder and creative director at Gaping Void – a culture consultancy – summed up the sentiment with:

“If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face.”


Image by Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void shared under Creative Commons License.


Advertisers have had to find a less intrusive way of ‘smuggling’ their brand messages into the conscience of consumers. High quality story telling is the obvious answer.

RELATED: Don’t shoot! I’m a customer not a target

But storytelling has been seen as the natural preserve of the public relations professional – at least this is the view held by the public relations professional. So there’s been a lot of posturing about the ‘ownership’ rather than the ‘stewardship’ of PR and marketing disciplines.

This navel-gazing turf war is ultimately futile. Customers don’t care about the functions of PR and marketing. PR, advertising and marketing can learn skills from each other.

Consumers don’t want to be interrupted by ads but they do want to turn to storytelling so long as it’s:

  1. Relevant to them and their immediate needs
  2. Useful, adding value to them by answering their questions, entertaining them or providing more information about a subject they’re interested in
  3. Honest – if it’s native advertising it’s got to be easily identifiable as such. If its sponsored content via influencer marketing, disclose the commercial arrangement
  4. Good quality – created by talented storytellers
  5. Can help start a conversation with other like-minded people

RELATED: How to master native advertising best practice

Brands need to create compelling content. Content that doesn’t set out to tell the brand’s story in a more compelling way but compelling content that helps their customers and prospective customers to solve problems.

Consumers don’t like to be sold at. Brands need to discard banner ads and pop-ups and consider using:

  1. Native advertising on media sites;
  2. Influencer marketing on select influencer’s social media channel and;
  3. Content marketing on their brand’s own publishing platforms.

Consumers trust the opinions of people like us, so brands should develop meaningful relationships with influencers. Not for a short-term uptick in brand awareness but in long-term relations which move beyond content promotion toward content co-creation and further into co-created products.

Brands need to use social media to distribute this content. Paid media to amplify it. And earned media to provide it with third-party influencer authority.

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About the Author Scott Guthrie

Scott Guthrie works with companies to drive business growth in the social age through strategic insight and technical know-how. That's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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