Friday Chronicles #3: Advertainment, Desperately seeking Susan.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The press in most of western countries have their freedom of expression. And for many years, the public opinion has always be careful about how politicians influence journalists… Or not. So we know that in France, former President François Mitterrand had the entire press on the palm of his hand. Or that Silvio Berlusconi literally owns half of the media in Italy. I am not even wondering what Vladimir Poutine does in Russia. What everybody forget is that the biggest lobby in the press is advertising. How can you stay today free in your editorial guideline when hundreds of international brands pay millions to advertise on your newspaper, magazine and website? Complex matter. And the more things go digital the more complex things get when you need to identify what is really editorial and what is paid editorial, commonly called advertorial.

The Banner days are over, native ads content became the new deal.

With the rise of Digital media, Publishers became Digital moguls. Traffic became a challenge and visibility is at stake every day. So websites templates evolved within the years in order to place more and more banners. Even Google, which success came thanks to the clean and minimalist look and feel, needed to find a way to place advertising on the result pages.
So banners became the day-to-day tool for the online-advertisers.
Nevertheless, banners and display strategies are 2 completely different things. Display strategies will integrate something much more immersive and native to the user experience onsite.
From homepage takeovers, to on-scroll formats, integrated in-article ads or even video display units… The art of displaying your digital message evolved. 2013 was the year of native advertising. Exceptional formats tailor-made for a purpose, a Brand and a website. 2013 was also a year in which mobile first became a concern. Many websites adopted responsive design technologies or at least mobile versions of their desktop sites. The experience becomes richer and the goal was and still is to have a deeper immersion into a brand or website content. Since January this year, another trend took over the spotlights, it is the Advertorial.

Advertorial, you think it is edition content but actually… It is not!

When you try to be someone you are not, only the best can dare to think it can be done. Most of the time, it does not really work as people are not stupid.
Those who would really try to disguise it, would basically publish a piece of content from the editorial team side and make you believe it is not advertising. Of course it would be very dishonest and most of the important media would let you know by adding a identification label like:

> Advertising
> Sponsored
> Ad
> Paid media
> Advertorial

Most of this techniques come from the Print as it exists now for a while. So on digital media integrate this ads into the editorial section and they are more than simple banners. Some of them can be a 1000 words piece of content, a one minute video or a photo gallery. Are people ready to spend their time on advertising? Probably yes.

The era of Advertainment has arrived

As companies improved the quality of their digital content, advertising experience is improving as well. Ads become immersive and people can spend almost one full minute interacting with an ad unit. It is what we can call Advertainment. Advertising becomes interesting, fun, surprising or all of these at the same time. Some ads get even more popular than most of the articles of an online news site.
This could be associated to the Super-bowl ad syndrome. Millions of people would never miss the ads displayed during the breaks as they all compete to be the longest, the smartest and the funniest. We talk about it before the event and several month still after the match. You might miss a few minutes during the game, but you will not miss a second of the super-bowl ads.
As digital budgets are increasing constantly, the means for doing something greater and bigger also increase. According to Techcrunch, digital advertising represented 23% of total advertising in the USA in 2013. This means a $ 503 billion spent. This is almost a 4% increase versus 2012. In other countries like Brazil and some European countries, the growth is double digit. Are Brands taking the investments away from Print and TV to switch them to Digital? Not at all. It is an added budget. So brands become pretty much powerful.

In conclusion, while Rosanna Arquette’s character tried to take Madonna’s character place in the iconic fan movie Desperate seeking Susan, advertising tries to take the place of editorial but as the 1985 movie showed, this cannot last for ever. So evolution is at stake.

Mass digital media will need then to get into the groove.
LA
Advertorial techniques

Info sourced at Bloomberg, Forbes, Wikipedia and Techcrunch. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.

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