It might be time to realise that the advertising model that was originally thought up for the internet just doesn’t work anymore.
The public is increasingly telling the ad industry that it doesn’t want to see their ads. Is the answer to continue to force them to look at ads, as some services now do, or is it to change?
To offer something the public actually want to see in a way that doesn't degrade the environment its hosted in? The public clearly like the brands and products behind the ads. They follow them on social media, share their content, subscribe to their emails and contribute their own time making content and tributes to their favourite brands.
The problem seems to be very specifically about the ads. The cash that the ad industry provides to publishers, social media and search engines is coming at a hefty cost to the user experience.
'Search' as we've come to know it in the contemporary sense is very much owned by our friends at 'Google' (other search engines are available) and they've built a huge global business off the back of our curiosity, and that's a lot of curiosity.....but, you have to know what your 'searching' for.
Search is brilliant for quick, specific answers, terrible for discovering and exploring new ideas.
How much is Google worth? Today, its market cap — the total value of the company — was just over $690 billion. It's the largest media corporation in the world, earning $79 billion on media revenue out of a total of $90 billion in overall revenue. Eight seven percent of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. All the cool stuff you hear about — the self driving cars, Google Fiber, Nest, Verily, Calico Labs, Google Ventures, Google X — made less than $809 million — far less than one percent of total revenues.
As the global increase in audience behaviour for 'ad skipping' and 'ad blocking' combined with continued fraud associated with programmatic continues to rise unabated, it is vital that content owners, creators, broadcasters, brands & advertisers establish non-intrusive audience friendly viable alternatives for generating insights, attribution and revenues from what is still a growing appetite across all channels to consume content.
In summary, you and me (the audience) don't want those intrusive ads being 'pushed' at us anymore....but, we still want content!
Tech-savvy, social media consumers are rejecting blunt, intrusive push-advertising that targets the occasional ‘click & buy’ result and has dominated the on-line advertising space for the past 20 years. Today’s consumers are looking for evermore immersive experiences where extra information relevant to their current activity enhances their experience rather than detracts from it and access to related products and services are a convenience. In a world where the traditional 'push advertising' model is effectively the sale of 'attention' - intrusive advertising is rapidly turning audiences off, across all devices.
Content, content, all around but why will it be a key driver in the future fortunes of companies like Google, and potentially reduce your need to pay homage at the alter of SEO?
As the amount of online content (especially video) increases exponentially, general search is often struggling to deliver meaningful results, unless you’re very explicit and goal oriented. And you will never know what you missed out on. Search is brilliant for quick, specific answers, terrible for discovering and exploring new ideas. Generally search results are biased towards popular links from the top 1% of all content and mainstream websites, trapping us all in a filter bubble of Wikipedia articles and increasing personalisation. Similar to a classroom environment, search is best focussed on specific paths towards preordained outcomes.
Discovery reveals worlds you didn’t know existed, powers-up your critical thinking and enriches your understanding in ways the classroom isn’t designed for. Just as there is a fundamental difference between the role of the classroom and the library, there is a fundamental dichotomy between search and discovery. Search promises to make vast swathes of information available, whereas discovery aims to make more relevant knowledge immediately accessible.
The most searched categories on Google are for 'people, places, and product'. If your into Sport, then there is over 8Bn Sports related searches on a daily basis. There are also many billions of sub-categories associated with these searches. If you want to find out more information about a 'person' then Google, YouTube and Wikipedia are 'currently' the most used search functions. Clearly a lot of 'curiosity' with a large percentage of that curiosity converting to commercial opportunities for Google and its 'adword' advertisers.
Today there are over 3.5bn people using social media platforms around the world, and a significant number of those people are consuming subject matter related content whilst on those platforms. In plain English, the Google model that relies on you and me initiating a search to find out about that person, place, product/service is now being 'discovered' on 'Social Media', and all based on your own preferences, without 'intrusive' advertising.
Great stories draw us in, and 'discovery' of stories open us up to 'learning' and sharing that knowledge with others.
So, if you don't have an internally aligned 'Social Media' strategy, which includes producing stories and your competitor does, then no amount of intrusive advertising is going to cut it.
If you need further proof on the impact around how ‘Social Media’ has already changed the traditional Business to Business (B2B) sector, recent research from ‘Gartner and Forrester’ can now evidence that circa 68% of due diligence on a company, its products, and even its key employees is being done prior to any direct contact with a potential vendor. During that process there are between 8-10 internal stakeholders investing 40+ hours doing that research, and where do you think most of that research is being carried out?
Certainly not on Google or your website!
Why is this important?
Because, chances are you are probably already way behind where you need to be..
Looking back in a few years’ time, we will be amazed that we let our attention become the default way to pay for content and we will be amazed how cheaply it traded. We’ll see that after paying too little respect to consumers, in an age of abundant content, there was no other way for things to go.
What great discovery and the librarian have in common is the ability to narrow down what you are looking for, match it to content that may not yet be known to you, and help you make new connections.