Display's Woes Will Fuel Mobile, Native And Social

With all the news about ad blocking, ad fraud and viewability over the past couple of weeks, I thought it was about time to help out the beleaguered brand marketer and publisher alike and ask the question on everyone's lips. Is native and social the way forward? Turns out that most agree it is. While display will keep on growing as budget moves from traditional media to digital, a lot of agencies and publishers alike are realising it has its limits.

It's easy to have sympathy for brands that must scratch their heads when they see reports like this week's study which found that viewability had dipped to 49% and other reports suggesting that half or more of the traffic on the Web is non-human. So, that means only about a quarter of the media they buy has the opportunity to be seen by a person rather than a robot. Figures vary, but even those who claim things are better than some make out would likely agree that at least half of all adverts will either be positioned in a spot where they are not viewable by a human. 

It's not the sort of stuff that fills you with confidence, is it? And to hear today that JICWEBS is still trying to come up with a list of viewability measurement vendors that conform to a common UK standard, and not just the MRC's, is a little surprising. Viewability has been an issue for years -- why wait until Q4 of this year to get a list together? I know there have been complications in the process, but I'm sure brands will be asking that question.

So with all this in the background, I've been asking around and opinion seems pretty aligned that display has a strong future but its woes are going to give native and social a tremendous boost over the next couple of years, and further on.

If you're spending budget on display and the worst case scenario that only a quarter of your media might actually be seen (worst case, I know, but bear with me), then it just makes so much sense to put more budget into native and social and particularly, mobile native and social. Mobile is, of course, the way forward -- given that one in three male millennials are now blocking ads -- but you can bet your life, they're not taking their eyes away from the Facebook and Twitter feeds or their favourite news and entertainment sites.

Nobody would suggest that display is dying or that native and social do not have their troubles either because fake accounts are widespread and native platforms have received a bad press when it comes to reporting and accountability. However, putting your content and your message in front of people clearly labelled in the editorial running order or their social timeline simply has to make sense, so long as you have something to say and have a content strategy to back it up. Even if an article or post is not clicked on, it can still raise brand awareness and tell a message with a snappy headline or call to action. 

Most importantly, however, not only can content put your message out there, it can also be shared. Virtually nobody clicks on display, let alone shares it. Content is different. If done well, it can inform and entertain and an engaged reader may even go so far as to tell their peers about it. 

So, if there's been one take out for me from this week, it's probably that I've had a chance to see if my pretty obvious assumption bears scrutiny and that display's woes are going to fuel native and social, particularly mobile native and social. Turns out from a few conversations with agencies in London, it's pretty much what everyone is expecting. 

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