Online advertising is a relatively new, complex format, and it is continually changing and adapting to the needs of the industry. The new formats and capabilities inherent in the digital realm are opening up a huge opportunity for publishers and content providers to make a significant contribution to this new protocol. As innovation in advertising technology continues to evolve, the old, tried-and-true approaches of the past no longer work.
The companies that were first to understand and implement the new methods are reaping the rewards, and they get to influence the direction of the industry. Advertising has always been by far the primary revenue generator for the publishing industry, especially for the legacy print publishers, but also in the digital arena. Advertisers have always both driven revenue and influenced consumer behavior; their tools are just different now.
The big push-back against spam and disruptive, low-value online advertising created a surge of gatekeeper products and ad blockers have become ubiquitous, but they might be doing more harm than good at this point. Publishers need advertisers; they just need good quality advertisers, and the trend seems to be that ad-blocking companies are beginning to be proactive and promote valuable ads while at the same time filtering out bad content. Advertisers are always looking for new ways to create deeply engaging experiences for consumers.
Content-driven marketing campaigns are still evolving, and native advertising which is de facto the print version of infomercials is still big business. According to some industry forecasts, native ad spending will most likely increase from just over $3 billion in 2014 to almost $9 billion by 2018 in the United States. Native ads take many forms, including blog articles and infographics. They are usually identified as sponsored content so the line between information and advertisement is clear.
Advertising and marketing have until recently been two very different things.
Advertising gives you the information, and marketing invites you to seek out the information. The enormous amount of data available to the industry through analytics and CRM is beginning to integrate the two models. A good ad is obvious to all who see it, but the challenge right now is getting the right eyeballs to see the right advertising at the right time. Technology is enabling marketers to engage audiences in so many new ways. The big questions now are where consumers engage with technology, what an interactive experience looks like, and how can target audiences be reached.
The most exciting aspect of the internet as a whole is that it is interactive, and that very trait opens up so many opportunities for advertisers. No longer are publishers dependent on someone reading a hard copy of a magazine and taking the initiative to reach out to advertisements that pique their interest. With digital publishing, the truly interactive experience is at hand. How much easier is it to click on a link in real time while reading an ad? The emergence of live-streaming video takes interactivity to a whole new level, and it is one new component that is making advertising and marketing proactive as well as reactive, and the customer becomes a big part of the process.