Executive Musings: What’s An Ad?

I am fortunate to work with a bunch of exceedingly bright and innovative people. Our executive leadership team is a group I am very proud to be a part of. The conversations we have when we are together can alternate between comical, blunt, ingenious, satirical, dire and revelatory. After one such conversation over email, I thought “why not share some of these musings with other fine folks?” And so here we are with the newest section of the Innovation Corner – Executive Musings. In this first in a series, I present to you the thoughts of our President, George Manas.

The topic is what makes an ad an ad. As consumer experiences span multiple devices, platforms and channels, the lines between content and advertisement become more and more blurred. As marketers we need to be cognizant of the content we put out there. Is it relevant? How is it being delivered? And most importantly, is it driving business forward?

 –Nancy Adzentoivich

What’s An Ad?

In the coming months, we’re going to be talking more and more about formats and experiences, how digital data and technology are requiring the industry to re-imagine what an ad is and does. It is fair to say that standard ads today have become increasingly annoying or invisible to consumers and therefore increasingly ineffective for the brands placing them. We’ve reached an inflection point.

Of course in our immediate world — the platform marketplace or new media market, as we’ve been calling it — we’ve already seen fundamental transformation. This market has already moved beyond standard IAB banner formats to more engaging and immersive experiences. Consider the evolving portfolio of social ad formats, the uniqueness and innovation across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat: canvas ads, carousels, product ads, 360 video, soon AR/VR and so forth.

We’re seeing it across Search as well, despite the prevalence of the (always effective and humble) text ad. Just think of the evolving suite of ad enhancements, consumer engagement options, and other universal search features. And voice search will quickly move us beyond a screen experience to a screen-less place inside cars, people’s kitchens and other otherwise inaccessible nooks of consumer time and attention. Audio ad formats will come to dominate in search. Personal experiences as ads will come to define this new era.

What about TV? I find it really interesting how TV — under pressure from the new media market — is re-thinking it’s fundamental advertising format, the :30 spot, just as it is exploring addressable and programmatic models. Taking a page from the platform space, this is an early sign that the “stuff” we do will increasingly be important in what was once a traditional TV space.

Check out what Fox is up to, and read about Turner’s new “super pods”- client State Farm will be aired during one of the February 27th slots.

How do you define an ad? How has your marketing strategy shifted in the age of content as ad, ad as content?
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