What happens to advertising when everything becomes “pay to go ad-free”?

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By Michaela Macintyre - Head of Social

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I’m already paying NETFLIX, Spotify, Soundcloud & others to let me use their platforms ad free. I have installed ad blocker on Chrome. I close every ad and even go so far as to take earphones out when I’m forced to view an ad. And I work in this industry. Maybe it’s because I spend all day with ads that I don’t want them infiltrating my free time. But guess what? It’s not just me.

  • 615 million devices now use adblocking technology
  • 11% of the global internet population is blocking ads on the web
  • Ad block usage grew 30% in 2016

*Insights from Page Fair 2017 AdBlocking Report

And now that ad-free YouTube Red is rolling out wider (announced at VidCon this last week, see my previous posts herehere & here) to other countries and adding more content and benefits, you’ve got to start wondering, as an ad(wo)man, what happens when every digital platform starts being pay-to-play-ad-free?

Here are 3 things I think will happen:

  1. Influencer Marketing will take precedence. It’s already on the agenda for many of us, but if the only way to reach audiences who have paid not to hear from a brand channel is through the influencers in these spaces, we’ll all start taking influencer marketing real serious. The time is now to test & learn, create work streams to make it easier and simpler for agencies, influencers and brand teams alike to work in this way. See my 5 things influencers want brands to know about working with them (hot off the press from VidCon) for a head start.
  2. Product placement will be back on the map, but we’ll need to do it in more interesting ways. Characters in original series will need to do more than hold/ stand next to/ ask for your brand. They’ll need to share your brand values and become the living, breathing ambassadors for your brand on-screen as well as name call/ use it in the series/ film.
  3. Advertising will stop being so much like advertising. At Gravity we are really passionate about humanising brands and helping them stay culturally relevant and I think more agencies and brands will (and should) follow suit. Start creating content based on true human insights (look at our Hendrick’s Gin Ministry of Marginally Superior Transport as an example, which was the most successful campaign the brand has ever run) and start thinking about how we can be additive to the world we live in now, as my Creative Director Martyn Gooding puts it. Social good, entertainment instead of advertising and creating content that is useful will all start to be the headline of creative briefs.

Also, imagine, if you will… that brands actually start dedicating themselves more wholly to this thought of being additive to the world. Why didn’t a travel brand create instagram, for example? Brands and agencies need to start thinking differently. Agencies especially, if we’re to still have jobs in 10 years time.

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