The next generation of adtech will move beyond ‘annoying ads’

Google plans to become the judge of ‘good ads’ – but our industry should not allow this to happen, argues Justin Peyton of Digitas LBi APAC

Are you an iPhone person, or an Android person? I bet everyone has a quick answer to that question and knows exactly which camp they fit into.

Are you an ad blocker person, or someone who lets ads in? Again, I bet you’ve made a conscious choice one way or the other.

Well soon that choice might be taken out of your hands as Google has announced that future versions of its Chrome browser will include ad blocking features. The company has said it will not block everything – just the ‘annoying’ ads. And while there are plenty of those, this would make Google the arbiter of good taste. Who is entirely comfortable with this?

The question is: how as an industry have we reached this point? And what happens next?

In my view, there are two factors to blame:

  • Bad quality and lazy creative work.
  • Ad placements that are focused on price rather than quality.

In truth, Google has thrown the gauntlet down for two very good reasons. It is now up to the media and marketing industry to respond.

The industry needs start thinking about consumer behaviour so that our messages fit with their needs rather than interrupting their actions. After all, nobody likes an ad that takes over your screen leaving you searching for the button to close it.

Or worse still, when the ad forces you to close the browser window altogether because you can’t figure out how to remove the ad you never wanted to see in the first place. Yet brands buy these ad formats all the time because they are sure to be seen.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client ask for exactly this sort of thing because the formats just can’t be ignored. My advice to them when they ask: don’t prevent people from accomplishing their goals, find ways for your communication to augment their experience.

Speaking of clients not using ad formats well, it would be remiss not to talk about programmatic. It is the largest adtech trend and it’s a good buzzword to increase the SEO score of any articles on the subject.

In all seriousness though, it is another example of ad serving technology that requires a hard look. Many clients today are buying programmatic media simply for cost efficiencies, and while it can do that, these clients are missing the point. The value of programmatic is to deliver different content to different audiences in a manner that can be optimised.

This creates cost efficiencies but equally it improves performance by serving better, more relevant creative; meaning that both brand and consumer wins. But sadly, most people still don’t take advantage of the creative potential.

It’s our job as an industry to look at our own bad behaviour and stamp it out. We have to help our clients make better decisions both for themselves and for their audience. It shouldn’t take Google putting its foot down to make this happen.

There is hope. Because those ‘annoying’ ads and the motor that drive them were the first generation of adtech. Look at the next generation and there is a lot to be excited about. We are now moving from technology focused on cost to technology focused on audience.

Advertising network Kiip for example is using a more progressive type of adtech. The company has been around for some time, but instead of interrupting a person’s action with an ad they don’t want, Kiip allows brands to identify moments in mobile apps that deserve reward and then play a part in the moment.

One example being that if you get a new high score on a game, Kiip allows brands to recognise the achievement and give you a real-world consumer reward.

Or Uru. It is an artificial intelligence company that can position a brand logo into videos so they look natural. In essence, allowing for product placement. And there are a huge number of other AI companies that are working on ways to personalise and improve the ad experience for consumers. Using real data to learn exactly what would be useful or constructive messaging at that moment to empower the consumer rather than interrupt them.

These companies and many others are exciting for the future of our industry. They show that adtech offers a solution to the low quality and ‘annoying’ ads we see today. They offer the opportunity to be more consumer-centric, while achieving brand goals, and more importantly to do this by opening new creative doors that let agencies get back to doing what we should be: delivering great creative work.

Justin Peyton is the chief strategy officer for Digitas LBi in Asia-Pacific


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