Ads are destroying the internet. They are everywhere. The internet gave them a new home, shifting investment from traditional media. Except, no one’s paying attention to the noise anymore, creating ad blindness. Your target market is adeptly ignoring these messages, meaning you need a new approach.
Content marketing is the evolutionary solution for ad blindness. Rather than advertise, content marketing educates and interests your market. It’s also less costly and more effective.
There are two ways to leverage content marketing to solve ad blindness. First, you can abandon digital ads altogether and focus your resources on delivering consistent, relevant, and compelling content for your target audiences.
Second, you can still use digital ads. But instead of those ads being a promotion of your products or services, they can follow native advertising parameters and promote your content and thought leadership. This change could make them more clickable because they provide something of value.
In this post, we’ll discuss both options, so we can all do our part to stop destroying the internet with ads.
Laying the Foundation: Important Terms to Know
Before we start, it’s important to define a few keywords.
What Is Ad Blindness?
Ad blindness describes the phenomena wherein website or app visitors give no attention to banner ads. When this occurs, you can expect little to no return on your investment.
Users consume a substantial amount of online content. On average, they spend 451 minutes a day on digital media. They are accustomed to banner ads and pop-ups, allowing them to disregard them subconsciously. This behavior is learned.
Why Does Ad Blindness Occur?
Several factors contribute to ad blindness, including:
- Volume and saturation of ads: Users could be seeing thousands of ads every day via search, websites, and social media.
- Placement: An eyetracking study found that users discount global navigation because they associate it with ads. The research also showed that users dismiss non-ad content that’s close to the typical ad areas.
- Ad content is boring, irrelevant, and disruptive: Typically, ads don’t commute value to the viewer. They cause disruptions in their pursuit to find information or complete a task.
- Bad design: Ads with no visual appeal and that aren’t optimized for contrast are easy to ignore because they’re ugly.
What Is Native Advertising?
Native advertising refers to ads that blend in with the content on a website. They are ads that offer educational content to inform users. Types include advertorials as well as sponsored or branded content.
Curing Ad Blindness: Options for Brands
Content marketing can be a cure for ad blindness in the two ways mentioned above. We’ll start with the first option.
Content Marketing Replaces Digital Ads
If your metrics around digital ads aren’t encouraging, it could be time to cut them out completely. If costs continue to rise but engagement, clicks, and conversions are not, this strategy isn’t working for you!
Content marketing ROI (return on investment) outpaces digital ads. Much of that relates to these differences:
- Initial investment: Digital ads require you to spend money on ad buying, production resources, and other fees. Content marketing costs are much smaller. You’re paying a content team and possibly using tools like a content marketing platform.
- Ads are short-term: Your ad only drives ROI when it’s showing. When it’s gone, everything stops. Content marketing continues to provide value as long as it’s live.
- Buyers accept content marketing: Research suggests 70 percent of internet users would rather learn about products through content than ads.
If your goals align with long-term, sustainable growth for your company, you’ll achieve this with content marketing over ads.
Should You Replace Digital Ads with Content Marketing?
Ask these questions to determine if you should abandon digital ads:
- Is your budget becoming smaller?
- Do digital ads metrics show any ROI?
- Are the leads from digital ads marketing qualified or junk?
- Do content analytics show strong performance from your blog and other channels?
- Is your target audience averse to ads? Do they have a high level of ad blindness?
Improving Digital Ads with Content Marketing
If digital ads are still a critical part of your omnichannel approach but aren’t showing returns, then it’s time to rethink them.
Most of the time, digital ads purely promote products and services. Often the CTAs (call to actions) are to buy or try. They are most relevant to those in the decision stage. However, it’s unlikely those seeing the ads are in this stage. In fact, most are probably in the awareness stage. They are seeking information.
You can find data elements to confirm this by looking at the conversions. You’ll likely find that not many were ready to buy. Buyers need education and information before they get to this point. So, it makes sense to position digital ads to do this with native advertising concepts.
Through sponsored posts and advertorials, you can relay essential information to your buyers. Teach them about their challenge and the possible solutions. Because these ads are not disruptive, they are more likely to attract a click.
What About Retargeting?
One additional thing to mention is retargeting ads. These follow users after they leave your website. B2C companies use these to curtail shopping cart abandonment. They are just as useful for B2B.
You have awareness on your side, so push content, not ads. If someone spent time on your demo page but didn’t convert, keep your brand top of mind. Instead of just offering a demo or free trial, promote a content piece that compares different plans of your product or how it stacks up against competitors.
Let’s Stop Destroying the Internet with Bad Ads
Ineffective digital ads aren’t providing the results you desire. They are high cost, low return. Ad blindness will only become more pervasive. It’s time to chart a new path to attract buyers. You can do that with content marketing, whether as a replacement or a new strategy for your digital ads.
Learn more about optimizing paid ads with native advertising and content marketing in this how-to guide.