The Advertising Cold War: Five Things to Watch

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Today it only takes 13 milliseconds for viewers to "blank" an ad. With viewers skipping ads any chance they get, and with ad-blocking technologies lurking around every corner, brands are challenged to find new ways to reach their target audiences. Cue the Cold War of Advertising.

Today, many people think they want to live in an ad-free world, and all too many ad-blocking technologies are happy to sell that promise. But the truth is, advertising is a necessary evil in the increasingly high-stakes world of modern 24/7 entertainment.

Here are five things advertisers, brands and consumers alike should consider as the cold war in advertising heats up in 2017:

1. Keep it L.E.A.N. More isn't always better. The Interactive Advertising Bureau's introduced L.E.A.N. -- , encrypted, ad choice, non-interruptive -- standards. Created with the intention of calming the craze that ad tech can cause, while also subduing the ad-block rebellion, brands are encouraged to USE these standards as a means of avoiding a terrible user experience. Even though these standards were introduced back in 2015, publishers and advertisers are still working to align with these standards and are in the hunt for practical, strategic solutions for a more personalized, less ad heavy road to accessing content. As everyone continues to search for a solution, watch as companies like Facebook and, recently, Instagram, introduce and test mid-roll video ad pop-ups.

2. Google vs. ad-blocking technology. Following the war Facebook waged on ad-blocking technology in 2016, Google recently announced that Chrome won't be building in ad blocking, unlike open-source web browsers like Opera and Brave. While we can expect this back and forth to continue, brands should explore non-traditional options such as Native-In-Video Advertising (NIVA), which enhances the audience experience by allowing reduction of conventional ad-loads and therefore interruption of the viewing experience. With consumers looking to avoid advertising at every turn, brands need to seek respectful advertising that is non-intrusive, contextual and does not detract from the editorial integrity of the original content.

3. The battle of YouTube. From Taylor Swift's letter to Congress to YouTube's "demonetizing" of video content, the foundation of the streaming site is shaking. Ultimately, the war will be over click-through and streaming royalties. With competition lurking round every corner and ad-blocking rampant, we can expect changes on the horizon. While music videos are the most highly viewed content block online, and represent premium ad opportunities for brands, the prevailing free streaming model has meant returns for music videos have fallen short of their promise. In fact, according to an ORC International survey from Mirriad, 90% of people skip pre-roll ads appearing before online videos, minimizing advertising impact. Brands and content owners should accept that pre-roll is not the only way to approach this dilemma. They should begin to explore options that more successfully target their audiences, while offering an alternative approach to monetizing this highly viewed format.

4. Coming to a chat near you. As established platforms like Facebook and YouTube wage their own wars, businesses and consumers should be looking to their messaging apps as the next battleground. With these platforms on a meteoric rise, finding ways to bring ads to the table in a way that consumers won't reject will be critical for adoption. While messaging platforms may grant brands a new way to stay in touch with customers, in an age of privacy concerns and hacking, brands will need to tread lightly.

5. None of your business. Internet data allows advertisers to create targeted ads, but privacy concerns and botched targeted ads worry consumers or turn them off. The best way to know an audience is through interpreting the massive amounts of data available. But for all the data, the question remains, "Is it working?" Instead of shooting advertisements around in attempt to always hit every audience, both brands and content distributors should remember that context is everything and that contextual relevance is the key. A campaign is not effective unless integration fits comfortably with the narrative.

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