Stop interrupting what people want to engage with

James Procter

We're starting to see the answer - sponsored content that is compelling in its own right.

There’s a lot of talk in the industry about the rise of the ad blockers in digital channels and changes in the media landscape. Sure, there is a lot of truth to the argument that advertisers pay for the media engine to run and as an unspoken agreement, we put up with interruptive messaging to get the content we want. But is this really the future? Do we really think we can continue to force our messages down people’s throat whether they like it or not?

I think we all know the answer to this. But it’s not completely black and white. We can’t just switch out advertising models mid race. We need to introduce new ways of doing things and blend methods as we move to a place that is more sustainable.

In the last 5 or so years I think we are starting to see the answer. Sponsored content that is compelling in its own right. Brands and businesses that demonstrate what they are about by doing and sharing. Sure, we will still need to pay for reach sometimes but here’s the thing- the better we are at creating content that is truly compelling, the less money we have to use to share it. It’s enticing isn’t it?

Brands that can distil what they stand for and the role they play in people’s lives are in the box seat. Then it’s really just a matter of showing not telling. One of the greatest examples of this is is the Redbull Stratos project. The equation is simple: Man flying to Earth from Space = Extreme version of Redbull gives you wings + who doesn’t want to see a guy free fall from the stratosphere?

Another great example of this closer to home is UBER in Australia. Firstly, disruptive and customer centric business model – tick. But at the core of their product, they are a business that moves people and things around in an effortless way which is, well, pretty boring. So to maintain their talk-ability, they quite literally use their brand as a vehicle to deliver content. Last year they delivered kittens for about 15 minutes of office loving on behalf of local animal shelters. And last weekend, for Australia day, they teamed up with Optus to offer to deliver a professional umpire for your backyard cricket game – hello to you Billy Bowden. Not as cute as the kittens but super relevant in showing understanding of the local market. And more importantly, they have made their product the communication medium.

So, where are we now? Probably somewhere in between. In transition if you like. We still have brands with ads that will make your eyes bleed, but we have pockets of resistance. And the secret that really good marketers know, is that times of great change are times of great opportunity. Massive hunks of market share to be won and lost in rapid time.

Let’s cheat a little and sit down before the music stops.