Tag Archives: Online Media

The Natives Are Restless

Today we hit once again on the “everything old is new again” theme that we touch upon from time to time. One of the best media analysts in the business is my friend Dan Salmon at BMO Capital Markets. He released a report on a “Native Advertising Summit” he attended. It made me smile and I’d like to share why that was.

First, what the heck is native advertising?  Way back in the olden days of the web, we used things such as  banners, boxes, buttons.  This ad units sat on the web page hoping a user would notice them.  Others, such as pop-ups, interrupted users’ content experiences.  These units are still the purview of all of the programmatic buying found via ad networks and other RTB platforms.

So-called native advertising is way more integrated.  Sponsored Stories, promoted Tweets,  and sponsored videos are just a few of the  formats sprouting up across the web, giving brands a channel to connect directly with consumers through content and publishers a new opportunity for revenue.  As Dan wrote in his report:

It is increasingly clear that the native trend is becoming a pressure point for publishers pushing back on recent digital ad innovation that has mostly centered on real-time bidding, programmatic ad buying, and improved yield for buyers much more than sellers. At the same time, these publishers are finding a willing and hugely important constituency on the buy side, but one that is traditionally under-represented in digital marketing: branding-oriented advertising budgets.

In other words, publishers are sick of the dive to the bottom CPM‘s are taking and so we’re going to use something very old:  sponsor integration into content.  It’s Your Lucky Strike Theater all over again!  I’m sure there will be all sorts of technologies sprouting up to make this happen in a more efficient way, but the activity is the same.  Sponsors are trying to gain both visibility as well as shared brand equity with the content they’re sponsoring.  You see this in sports all the time (and it dates back to The Gillette Cavalcade Of Sports in the late 1940’s).

To touch on my favorite theme – the tools change but the basic business doesn’t.  We can call it native advertising or we can call it sponsorship   I call it smart, even if it isn’t really new.  How about you?

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When Is A Medium Not A Medium?

An interesting piece of research from the folks at Borrell Associates this morning that concerns how small and medium businesses are using digital channels.  Given that nearly every local business seems to have a website, I wasn’t surprised to read that over half of SMB online marketing dollars are spent supporting what the survey calls “web presence.”  This is their site design and maintenance, hosting, as well as their social media management.  What I hadn’t thought about was the study’s conclusions as summed up in this post:

Digital advertising is yielding the spotlight to digital services. The emerging lesson, concludes the study, is that the Internet is actually not much of an advertising medium after all.

That was an “ah-ha!” moment for me.  Then again, I can’t remember the last time I clicked on a web banner and unless I’m searching with an intent to buy immediately (as opposed to just conducting research), I generally ignore the PPC ads that seem to surround everything.  As it turns out the average U.S. small/medium business spends $17,000 on online services, compared with $6,800 on online advertising, hence the conclusion about it not being a medium.  Then again, there is a big division even within this group since those with fewer than 50 employees will spend less than $500 a year, while a mid-size business with more than 50 employees will spend an average of $63,000.  The little guys spend a higher percentage of their budgets on web hosting and their site (make sense since this is the one indispensable element in my opinion) as well as email and SEO (getting found is always important!).  Once the budgets grow the companies can afford to branch out into other areas (blog management, analytics, etc.).

The report concludes by noting that, as the web becomes more of a basic marketing tool for business, the importance of online support services will grow as well. The midsize and larger companies are likely to internalize services that they once contracted out. Those larger companies will either assign SEO and social media management tasks to existing staff, or hire fulltime experts in digital marketing

I’ve seen that occur with some companies for which I’ve worked.  Here on the screed we probably don’t think about the interwebs as a service-driven space and probably spend too much time on it as a medium   I’m going to rethink that based on this study since many of the folks who contact me fit the small and medium business category.  What do you think?

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Everybody Wants To Get Into The Act

Jimmy Durante

Cover of Jimmy Durante

When I started my career in media I worked for a content distributor – the station division of a national TV company.  We bought programming from content creators and used our distribution system to put it in front of consumers.  Other than some local programming such as news and public affairs, we didn’t create much and I suspect we’d have done a bit less had we not been mandated to provide what we did in return for our broadcast licenses.  Our business was to buy content and sell eyeballs and it was a very good business indeed.

By the time I had moved over to the network side, 10 years later, the business has changed a bit.  Networks now produced some shows and invested in others.  The business was still primarily about distribution but things were starting to change.  And now? Continue reading

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