Sorry for the dramatic “fake news” headline. And I just made up the date.
But this is going to happen, sometime soon. What we all know as advertising — intrusive, interruptive moments in our everyday lives — will give way to new forms of engagement that provide a value exchange with consumers.
We’ll still want to learn about goods and services and experiences, and we’ll still want to be sold, but the rules are already changing fast.
Fox Networks Group has announced new six-second ad formats accompanied by shorter, sequenced creative messaging throughout shows.
Millennial-focused publisher Mic has replaced traditional banner ads with subtle branded content channels. Cadillac, for example, is a frequent partner that politely sponsors the "Out of Office” vertical, which caters to travel junkies. Uproxx is also getting in on the fun.
Social media powerhouses like Buzzfeed’s Tasty, which has over 87 million fans on Facebook, started raking in revenue from companies like Newell Brands for featuring an Oster Grill in a minute-long video detailing how to make jalapeño and cheese-stuffed hamburgers.
Even VR is finding success with 3D object placement, which allows brands to incorporate themselves into experiences. The branded insertions actually add to the realism of the environment.
There is an underlying theme here. Advertising (as we know it) is over.
Attention spans are getting shorter, and so are TV spots. Banner ads are long over. Digital video -- a $10.3 billion industry this year, per eMarketer, experimenting (and succeeding) with subtly incorporating brands and products into content.
It’s no longer about getting your message in front of consumers by any means necessary, because viewers have no problem trading in obtrusive ads for the comfort of another screen. Instead, brands must strategically create custom content on a platform-by-platform basis, while leveraging collaborations with trusted voices that can influence purchasing decisions.
An example is last year’s collaboration between Fox and Pepsi that leveraged fan-favorite musical drama "Empire." The program, which demands roughly $500,000 for every 30-second spot, weaved Pepsi into a three-episode storyline involving one of the most beloved characters on the show, Jamal Lyon, who won an endorsement deal from the beverage company and the opportunity to star in an ad.
The commercial aired during an exclusive ad break, seamlessly integrating the spot into the show’s plot.
And it looks like the gamble paid off, because Pepsi is now sponsoring a digital video series, giving fans additional insight into the show.
Even Snapchat, which has been criticized for neglecting influencers, is finally realizing the power of influence when it comes to incorporating brands messages into content catered for consumers. It’s now giving creators the power to link to external websites, driving traffic to branded pages and products seamlessly.
As trust for institutions, Big Business and Big Media fade with this next generation of consumers, trusted storytellers providing content with actual value will be a powerful new force in the market economy.