The Dawn of the Post-Ad Digital World

digital-disruptionDigital advertisers are forced to reckon with technology disrupting their technology.

Ad blocking technology is here. You can blame it on the advertisers, the blocking developers, or an ethically challenged viewing audience all you wish, but if you make money through digital revenue the fact is your world is being rocked.

“Fixing” digital advertising by making it more palatable is not going to work, writes Michael Wolff in USA Today.

The fundamental premise of consumer advertising, and of the traditional media business, is of course that ads are unavoidable,” Wolff writes. “As fundamental a premise is that if people can avoid advertising, they do. And further: As soon as they do figure out how to circumvent advertising, they don’t go back to it.”

Wolff reminds us we’ve seen this in the TV industry.

“There is a new television audience that would not know what to do with the discordant interruptions of ads (except pay more to get rid of them),” he notes.  “And this non-ad audience, an audience that can afford to pay for not seeing ads, is the one, precisely because they can pay, most sought after by advertisers.”

Much has been written in recent weeks about fixing digital advertising by making it more agreeable, less interruptive. What would that look like?

“The most popular notion is native advertising, a form that integrates paid advertising with editorial content — or that mimics editorial in such a way that it is not immediately blockable,” Wolff asserts. “In other words, the solution to ad blocking is to make everything at least a quasi ad. The Internet becomes an in-flight magazine.”

“But that model — expensive and exclusive content that people pay for — is the antitheses of the Google and Facebook model, which is random, repetitive and user-generated content, which, so far, users have demonstrated little willingness to pay for,” Wolff continues.

The other idea is to create digital content that is truly worth paying for, the way HBO, Netflix and now Hulu have evolved. It’s not a new idea…consumers have historically paid willing and able to pay for good content. The digital disruption distorted that agreement temporarily, but the price to consumers for all the “free” content has been shown to be too high.