Beyond ads – Cannes highlights two native content musts for publishers

June 26, 2014 3:00 pm

Last week at Cannes banner ads were as popular as a McDonald’s on la Croisette.

One paradox: plenty of those doing the trash talking work at agencies and publishers that book millions of digital display units each week. The view du jour in France seemed to be about a bright future around native advertising instead.

La CroisetteDon’t get us wrong – for publishers, or those working closely with them, we get that. We have plenty of good things to say about native advertising, when it’s done correctly, even if there are those who would rather write it off at an early stage like so many poor advertorials that filled print pages for decades.

Digital display has poor recall rates and poor click-through rates – and that’s for those who even see the ads. Ad-blocking software filters out 10 per cent of online units, probably higher.

Meanwhile the best native advertising has rates of engagement better than display if not the same as editorial.

The issue is that native advertising will always only be one tactic employed by brands embracing content marketing.  Brands are increasingly doing their own thing, either through channels they own – their websites, email lists, events and so on – or through relative new channels they rent such as social networks. Native, on publishers’ pages, is just one other channel.
Publishers and media agencies have two main options, given traditional display advertising will decline.

The vast, automated network of display units must be used as distribution for native content. That’s partly about using them (derisory term warning!) as ‘traffic drivers’ but will increasingly be about in-ad content, especially as industry standard display units start to cater to that use.

The second option, which publishers are only in part getting, is for them to become agencies in their own right. This isn’t quite the same as the arms publishers are setting up (called labs or studios or similar) to create content that sits on their sites and apps. It’s about being big enough to compete with all the agencies out there – this is classic co-opetition – so that what’s created might sit on their own publisher pages but could equally live elsewhere – on brands’ sites, social media or even other publishers’ pages.
That’s a brave new world to consider beyond Cannes.

*photo credit: marsupilami92 via photopin cc

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