How Brands Can Deal With Increasing Ad-Blocking

Earlier last week, a Financial Times report claimed that several mobile network operators in Europe were planning to block online display ads as a way to attack Google’s domination of digital ad revenue. Whether this will actually be implemented is still up in the air, but the tide of ad blocking continues to rise this week as popular ad-blocker maker Adblock Plus launched its Firefox-based web browser for Android with built-in ad blocking. The first of its kind, this new Adblock Brower promises shorter load times, reduced cellular data usage and better battery life. No longer is ad blocking an add-on feature—it is quickly becoming the default and extending from desktops to mobile. Therefore, brands advertising online needs to adapt accordingly.

One good way to cope with such changes is to explore the newer formats of digital ads, such as video or native ads. For instance, yesterday Pinterest unveiled a series of new ad products and services that include an in-house creative arm called Pin Factory, improved audience targeting tools, and a new animated ad format dubbed “Cinematic Pins”, an interesting way to incorporate video ads into the usual static pin boards. As noted in the aforementioned Financial Times report, social “in-feed” ads on the likes of Twitter or Facebook will not be affected, presumably because they are native to the platform. For brands and marketers alike, the right way to combat ad-blocking tools expanding beyond add-ons is to stop making digital ads that look like add-ons.

Event Recap: AdWeek — What Is Newsworthy?

On Monday, Michael Roth, the Chairman & CEO of IPG, moderated an Advertising Week panel with Rebecca Blumenstein, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Wall Street Journal; David Pemsel, Deputy Chief Executive, The Guardian; Pete Cashmore, CEO & Founder, Mashable; and Greg Coleman, President, Buzzfeed; in which they discussed the future of the news and advertising’s role.

Trust and Mission

Throughout the event, panelists kept returning to the importance of trust—the need to consistently deliver timely but reliable information. Building and maintaining that trust with the audience is a challenge for both traditional publishers and digital upstarts; as Cashmore explained, “new media companies got the business model and distribution right and are now trying to get trust right; others got trust right and are trying to move into digital.”

If “trust” unites publishers, “mission” distinguishes them from each other: Mashable believes its community is an essential part of the platform, whereas The Guardian emphasized its 200-year history and commitment to independence.

Native Advertising

Of course, advertising remains a crucial (though sometimes controversial) revenue source for news publishers. Ideally, native advertising is simply a story about a brand. At Buzzfeed, in fact, “the creative team talks to the client… Sounds kind of like an agency,” according to Coleman. Brand sponsorship can translate into longer lead times and higher production budgets, resulting in high-quality content; Cashmore noted that some of the ads on Mashable are shared twice as much as original content. That said, panelists agreed that it’s important to maintain trust by making clear what’s sponsored content.

Organizational Culture

Attracting the best talent has always been difficult, but the popularity of startups has made it even more of a struggle.   Ultimately, though, it comes back to trust and mission: if people believe in what your organization stands for, they will be inspired to produce the high-quality content publishers seek to deliver.

Contently Raises $9 Million

Content marketing platform, Contently raised 9 million to empower brands as publishers. The self-service model connects writers with agencies and publishers to produce brand content whether they be white papers, sponsored articles or blog entries. While the industry seems to be shifting towards programmatic, there is also equal interest in custom, native experiences, putting Contently in a sweet spot. The Lab conducted some research on branded content on behalf of Forbes last year that found it to be most successful on publisher sites opposed to the brand’s own channels.  

What Are Native Ads, Anyway?

The term “Native Advertising” has officially lost its luster and its meaning for that matter. As the industry becomes more polarized towards programatic display and custom creative, it appears that every publisher has some form of advertising they are labeling native. A great post from Ad Age mentions the various forms of Native ads from advertorials, promoted tweets, search ads and sponsored content. While they are not all created equal, they will definitely become more prominent in the next year or so. Check out the full story to hear the differences.