Don’t Cry Over Blocked Banners, Use Content Instead


Did you hear? Banner advertising as we know it is dead.

I know that I’m not the only one who has seen the countless articles prophesying an online display advertising apocalypse, most notably covered in the New York Times and Fortune magazine. This imminent end is due in large part to the increased use of consumer ad-blocking technology. While the use of ad-blockers is concerning on multiple fronts, it seems a bit preemptive to declare an entire industry at death’s door.

This consumer-driven movement towards a more ad-free user experience is a sign that brands and advertisers need to start looking for more creative and unique ways to reach their audience. Even before the recent surge in ad-blocking technology, banner blindness was already an issue. The reality today is that ad banners are simply becoming less effective as a standalone advertising source. To me, the whole situation brings to mind the famous saying by Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Content marketing and inbound tactics that support it like native advertising and social media are already being used successfully as alternatives to traditional banner advertising. Having a strong content marketing strategy has always been essential, but the recent fire and brimstone sentiment makes it even more crucial to know how to use content as part of a holistic digital program. Creating original, audience-driven assets that speak to specific pain points and offer genuinely useful insights is one of the best ways to offset banner blindness, cultivate stronger relationships,  and build brand association.

According to a study by Roper Public Affairs and the Customer Content Council, over 70% of consumers actually prefer to get to know a company via articles rather than ads. We go to our favorite sites to consume content, so it makes sense that relevant brand-generated material in a native format feels less invasive. The content you create acts as its own filter since the audience can self-select what they want to read and what they don’t. Most importantly, your content strategy should center on enhancing a user’s experience—not interrupting it—when they browse the web.

In reality, banner advertising is probably not going away any time soon. But it would be remiss not to see recent events as an opportunity to innovate. Good content has always been a valuable tool in the digital marketing arsenal, but now it is more important than ever.

Jade Natal
Just Media, Inc.

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