Okay, so that is a slight exaggeration. As long as there is money to be made in advertising in websites willing to give up space, traditional advertising will continue. Billboards haven’t disappeared after all. But the digital sphere has never been anything like the physical one. You can’t ignore a billboard on the highway as it is just there. Thanks to ad blockers, website ads are a whole other story.
Ad blockers first came into my periphery over a year ago when I was still in graduate school. The most tech literate people I knew were aware of them, but no one else outside of that community seemed to be really interested in them. Jump to about a year later and I find some of the best selling apps in the App Store next to the games are ad blockers. Good ideas fly like that.
Ad blockers are a good idea for consumers. They make their browser experience faster. They aren’t spammed with yet another annoying fifteen second ad. Their web experience falls more under their control. Then there is still the truth universally acknowledged (besides that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife) that…
people hate ads.
Despite this obvious fact, we’re going to see some more crazy schnanigans from advertising and marketing for some time to come. How about ad-sponsored ad blockers? Personally I fail to see the point but there we go.
Then there are native ads, the stuff that blends into the media and the aesthetics of a website. These have got to be some of the best examples of advertising on the web. The only ads I personally haven’t loathed in some fashion are those stupid but so fun Buzzfeed-created ads for Purina. I have actually sought out these videos for more than finding that link. They appeal to my cat lady personality, knitting when I should be doing laundry with my fat tabby lounged over my legs on the couch. Buzzfeed is really full of ads. They know this. They also know they’d never exist as they are without them. Rather than treating them as an afterthought and cluttering their content, they are given them as much attention as the profit-generators they are. They are fully a part of the content. Suspending consideration of bias journalism ethics issues, I respect them for that.
Even with as much praise as I’ve got to give native ads they are still in danger. Unfortunately, they, too, must suffer because…they are ads.
Here’s a spoiler. If you’re putting up an ad and pushing it for people to see it, just expect them to try to avoid it as they would walk around mud puddles and use umbrellas in the rain.
I think native ads are up to something. They are the best way I can currently think of a company putting out their brand as a straightforward BRAND. But people aren’t just buying stuff. The want a lifestyle. They want a narrative. They want experiences. The Purina commercials touch on this I think as do all really good commercials. They don’t just say buy our cat litter because we have an ear worm jingle and cool graphics to make you think of us while you’re out shopping. The cat litter is part of a much bigger story that is going on. It is the life of your cat and your relationship with them. It is about you, too. Purina is just there along for the ride.
But there’s still the question of the not-Buzzfeed videos and articles. What becomes of them?
That is what I’m not sure about.
The gaming industry has demoed the pitfalls and criticisms of microtrasactions (proof there is a South Park episode for just about everything here and very appropriately on Hulu). The have have also proven that microtransations can work.
Now there’s Blendle, which is coming to the States soon. We’ll have to see who jumps on board. Like WoW, you’re not showered with ads but you do have to put up your dues. Maybe I’d be willing to pay $.20 for a longford article on Wozniak in something like Time or write a review explaining why I didn’t like it. As always the trick with the Internet is that if something can be consumed on it, there is a free version of it.
What are you willing to pay?