The Future of Advertising will be ‘Authentic’

By | May 2, 2011

In Mark Suster’s recent post entitled “The Future of Advertising will be Integrated” (which appeared on TechCrunch a few days earlier) he discusses how the traditional interruption marketing (my term, not his) — for example, banner ads, things that take our attention away from why we are viewing the material — are not as successful as “integrated” advertising, or ads that are intertwined with the content we want to view.  He cites as examples of this companies like Solve Media (ads located in captchas), Adly (celebrity endorsements via social media) , GumGum (in-image ads), and, my favorite, Pixazza (making images interactive).

Through all of his post he focuses on the word “integrated” (11 times, including the title), but in one of the closing sentences, he introduces a subtle but more compelling word: authentic (which really only appears once).

I believe will be one of helping make ads both authentic & integrated

I certainly agree with him that effective ads are those that are woven into the content, but I think that when we see celebrity endorsements, or overt product placements (things that don’t seem to belong in that place), we react a bit negatively (‘that person has sold out’).  When the ads are authentic, however, our radar is less likely to be set off, because the product endorsement seems natural.  Therefore, I believe that we should be striving for ‘authentic’ advertising — advertising that positively complements the content because the content is the advertisement — rather than focusing on its integration.

This is easier said than done, obviously.  So how do we make advertising for shampoos and bandages more authentic (hint: it’s what I have been harping on for years)?  It points back to education: we need to use advertisements to educate potential buyers.  Essentially, the educational content is the advertisement, and vice versa.  If a product helps solve a common problem people have (and one in which they are looking for solutions), then there is a natural fit — even if that product doesn’t necessarily uniquely solve that problem.  People need education even about commodity items.  By making advertisements educational about a product, we craft them into a vehicle both for awareness/promotional purposes and a reason why prospects should care.  Of course the difficulty is that it can limit placement regarding where such education shows up (after all, where is the right place to educate people about Coke?), but I would believe if we find such places, that the message would resonate better than any distraction/interruption-based effort.

The approach I suggest is to take educational/training material about the product or service and reformulate it in a way to be appealing to buyers who are looking for that type of product, in a marketing/advertising context, to appeal to prospective buyers’ needs (persona needs and problems).

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