Why Advertising Needs To Change

Advertising isn't what it used to be. Sound ambiguous? Well, it is. On the one hand, if you’ve been around a while, you'll agree that ads have lost much of their pizzazz in the last decade or so. When I was a kid, lunchtime conversation was as likely to focus on TV commercials as on the shows that aired in between them. In the evenings, we’d watch TV hoping to see, for example, one of the now-iconic Alka Seltzer ads (watch it -- it's still hilarious nearly 50 years later).

For pure, unadulterated ad fabulousness, today’s ads fall short. On the other hand, advertising isn’t what it used to be because it's actually so much more, in so many ways. It’s more present in our lives, more dynamic and variable, and more reflective of our tastes and interests. Today's ads can help you decide what to wear, share music with friends, or find a cheaper flight. But the problems are bigger too.



Consumers have more decision-making power when it comes to when and where to watch ads, for one. This is fantastic for consumers, and for brands that understand how to manage and engage their target audiences. But it means that so much of what we produce is not actually seen. It’s no coincidence that viewability has become a top concern of marketers in our industry. And it should be -- when more than half of all ads are not even being seen by consumers, the system is broken. And it's up to us to fix it.

I'm thrilled to see the IAB advocating for better metrics about which ads consumers can see, but I think they should be setting their bar even higher. There’s no reason that we can’t as an industry create advertising that’s 100 percent viewable -- and that consumers want to see. Change isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort. For an example, look to the enhancements that were recently made to a pioneering contextual ad solution: in-text advertising.

In-text has been a reliable source of revenue for publishers and a brand-safe way for advertisers to get in front of qualified users. We wanted to be able to build on what was great about in-text -- the contextual relevance, the brand-safe delivery, the premium publisher network -- and update it to address some of the most pressing issues facing the industry today: viewability, user engagement, and the need to create advertising that works (and works well) on tablets and other mobile devices. A year and a LOT of whiteboard time later, the new in-text puts users first, gives brands the dynamic multiplatform canvas they deserve, and delivers 100% viewability for advertisers.

Are we done? Not even close. The industry keeps changing -- and we’re going to keep changing with it. That's the only way we'll be able to keep up with the constantly evolving needs of marketers, publishers, and consumers -- our fearless colleagues and partners in this topsy-turvy media world.

3 comments about "Why Advertising Needs To Change".
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  1. Steve Schildwachter from Enterprise CMO, LLC, October 16, 2012 at 10:31 a.m.

    Cella, can you please define "brand safe delivery"?

  2. Kevin Horne from Verizon, October 16, 2012 at 6:04 p.m.

    You wrote this whole column about the future of advertising, only to make "in text ads" the payoff? One of the most peurile and useless types of "contextual" advertising extant.

    In-text hasnt made the rounds yet on the "CTR", "ROI" or "media allocation" circuits Surely the IAB has better examples of its efforts...

  3. Jeff Lekieffre from Casale Media, October 17, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

    @Steve the classic example of a brand safety issue is when an ad for an airline is delivered next to -or in this case within- an article about a plane crash... I suppose, "in-text" makes it easy to identify such trouble before it happens as everything -ads and content- is text.

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