Once you ignore something for long enough, it becomes invisible. This is what’s happening to online advertising.

With Apple’s iOS9 operating system’s installed ad blockers, most ads on any given web page — ads that businesses have paid to be there — are not visible at all to consumers. Some of these ad blockers replace the ads with something else. Others don’t replace them with anything, leaving holes or broken links on the page.

While most people have applauded these applications for blocking ads that pop up in front of articles or videos they’re trying to enjoy, we can’t forget that these ads provide the revenue to make the content available for free to that audience. Advertising will always be linked to subscription-free and low-cost subscription content platforms. It’s like death and taxes.

(What are the advantages of putting more of your ad dollars into content? Click here to jump ahead.)

Eliminating ad blockers might not make much of a difference, though, thanks to a new phenomenon called “ad blindness,” which occurs when people don’t even notice ads anymore because they’ve already ignored them for so long.

Plus, no one is clicking on these ads even when they’re unblocked. Display ads have an average click-through rate of .1%, and only 8% of all web consumers account for 85% of all ad clicks. On smartphones, 40% of all ad clicks are made by mistake. As a business, when you think about how much of your marketing budget went into that 15-second video or banner ad that’s either being ignored or blocked, it’s enough to make you a little sick.

This is why marketers are turning increasingly more to “native advertising,” which are ads that mimic the content already on the platform. An ad on a magazine site will take the form of a relevant article, while an ad on a retail site will take the form of a featured product. What’s the difference? The ad is simply conceived, developed and presented differently, but not in an effort to trick the consumer: Native advertising is basically content which is designed to be sought out, enjoyed and shared by your customers, not ignored.

According to Business Insider, native advertising spending will eclipse $8 billion this year. By 2018, it will hit $21 billion. Marketers are putting more money, effort and creativity into creating content that will inform, delight and inspire consumers, rather than presenting them merely with images and videos of models with products.

The Content Fix

What are the advantages of putting more of your advertising dollars into content? Here are a few:

  1. It beats ad blockers and ad blindness: When your “ad” is part of a site’s content offering, ad blockers won’t block it and consumers will not ignore it. Early research confirms that people look at native ads 52% more often than display ads, and they look at native ads 25% more than banners.
  2. More engagement: Someone looks at a display ad for less than a second, but they linger longer on content.
  3. More clicks for your money: Native ads get seven times higher click-through stats than display ads.
  4. It’s mobile-friendly: Content is more easily accessed on mobile devices, making it more likely to be looked at.
  5. It lasts and lasts: Ads get taken down over time, and they are almost never shared. Hosted content in the form of things like articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, slideshows, etc. can be found through search engines, shared and posted by your audience on their social channels.

This is not to say that display ads are dead or not worth your time. A good display ad campaign online can do wonders for building and reinforcing your brand awareness. Alongside it, a native advertising or content campaign can give consumers something that actually informs them about the need for your products and services rather than just showing them how great they look in photos.

Interested in learning more about how to develop and share content for your campaign? Call Mammoth at (540) 252-5122 for a chat.