"...they are stealing from publishers, subverting freedom of the press, operating a business model predicated on censorship of content..."
Please. Spare me the spin. There is no defence for the horrific user experience created by digital junk advertising and attempting to paint the other side as the bad guys is disingenuous.
"But you're in advertising!" you say. Yes, I am but I don't create or advocate this type of junk and actively counsel clients against this work. I can tell you no advertiser has come to me and asked me to annoy the crap out of their target audience. Publishers should not be trying to pass this off as effective use of an advertiser's money.
Ill Conceived display ads create terrible user experience
If you look at the two examples below, you can see why (click for the full joy):
- Advertising obscuring the content that can't be moved
- Advertising so poorly matched to the website design it makes it hard for your eyes to track which part is actually the content text
- The majority of the screen real-estate being used for useless content
- Advertising that is absolutely of no interest and almost completely random
Data costs to load these ads is more than the content
The size of the advertising is so large in comparison to the real content that it's costing the user more to download the advertising than the articles, which has led to some mobile carriers protecting their consumers by blocking at the network level.
Ads double the battery drain
In addition to the download cost, with an adblocker you double the battery life whilst browsing according to testing done by The Wirecutter
And poorly secured ad networks have been used to deliver malware
On more than one occasion ad serving networks have been used to deliver malware
All this despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that banner advertising doesn't work.
The solution is not native advertising
Some industry commentators (working for native advertising companies at a guess) have suggested that the solution is to start attempt to deceive readers using ads disguised as real content, i.e., native advertising. They can't be more wrong.
The print industry tried this and got slapped pretty damn by regulators years ago and bodies such as the FTC banned running print ads as editorial, requiring advertorials to be clearly marked as such and to appear in different print. Well they have now made the same mandate for digital advertising
There are no simple solutions, but there are definitely solutions that good marketers are already familiar with.
Spend more on less
In an effort to embrace "omni-channel" marketers spread themselves too thin so media budgets are divided up arbitrarily so that there's a chunk of TV, a dollop of out of home, little bit of digital, a splash of social. The result is a mish mash of stuff that doesn't particularly work well but covers all bases.
Is it really necessary to dump 5 pieces of Facebook content a week, a bunch of banners and the TVC jammed awkwardly into YouTube?
A better approach is to get focused on a smaller number of channels most relevant to the people you're trying to talk to and spend more in those channels. Better still, create stuff that is channel agnostic by...
Solid Planning leading to great creative work
Great, insight driven emotional storytelling works. It taps into that primordial part of us that has told stories for millennia. One of my favourite advertisers is Thai Life Insurance, an Ogilvy client. They communicate their brand values very clearly through emotive storytelling. Typical executions are like the film below. Rather than obsess about the channel they've obsessed about the storytelling so regardless of whether this piece of content runs on TV or online it's going to get shared. It's been shared on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Mashable, you name it, it's there. On Thai Life's own channel alone it's been viewed 27 million times and probably the same again on Facebook and other people's channels.
Publishers, go innovate
The onus is on publishers to develop better monetisation models and better advertising units that put user experience at the core because then you create a mutually beneficial environment for users, advertisers and the publishers. Suck it up, evolve and do a better job,