Mark Suster, a VC at GRP Partners, has posted a great article on TechCrunch entitled The Future of Advertising Will Be Integrated. You can (and should) read it here.
The points Mark raises are hugely valid, and actually mirror (in some cases almost word for word) what we’ve been saying here: that banner ads might have been successful back in 1994 when they were invented, but they don’t work anymore due to banner blindness and falling CTRs.
The article is even illustrated with the same screen cap from Jakob Nielsen’s eye-tracking studies (reproduced below) that we’ve posted here many times before.
The solution Mark suggests to fix ineffective online advertising? More integration with the content people actually want to engage with:
The reality is that advertising has got to become more integrated with content in order to drive efficacy…
I believe that “integrated advertising” is one of the more effective types of advertising out there. You have to find a way to get your audience to actually “engage” with the content in the way that Solve Media is doing, in the way that in-game advertising works for video games or the way that celebrity endorsements work.
Well, there’s no doubt there’s a place for sponsored celebrity Tweets, affiliate links, in-text, and in-image advertising.
It’s already a huge industry that generates billions in revenue, and it will only get bigger. We know some of the main players and admire them.But… in-content advertising isn’t right for everyone. For many publishers it’s a step too far in blurring the line between advertising and editorial. Ads that appear within content can make it look editorially suspect. It can make opinions look sponsored, rather than independent. And for readers, that can be poison.
Beyond perceptions of integrity, another issue is that in-content advertising can be plain interruptive. When engaging with an article it’s just not a good experience to have the words obscured or the meaning skewered by a commercial message.
With Respond we’ve found a ‘third way’ – something that is most definitely not an easily ignored banner ad, but also something that is not embedded bang into the content itself.
The route we’ve taken to increase brand engagement and recall is through the use of contextually relevant call to action buttons that sit in the place where visitors are most likely to look for their next action – immediately by content (often with the Facebook Like button).
Respond provides advertisers with a way to capture people with a compelling message when they are most engaged in a format that publishers know works best – the call to action button (that’s why the world’s most successful publishers user call to action buttons for their most critical actions – buy now, subscribe, register, etc).
Respond isn’t interruptive because it’s user initiated. But it is noticeable, and it beats banner blindness.
There’s no doubt the future of advertising is integrated to one degree or another. It will be fascinating to see the different approaches we all take to get there.