Thank you, native advertising…

Native advertising at its best

Native advertising at its best

I was watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon a little while ago, and one of my favorite bits is Friday’s “Thank you Notes”. Jimmy starts off by telling the audience that he has been very busy and was unable to send out his usual weekly thank you notes, and would the audience mind if he did it right then and there.

To a chorus of approval, James Poyser from the Roots starts playing some evocative piano riffs and Jimmy gets out his pen.

“Thank you, peer pressure, for being totally not cool. Unless my friends think it’s cool, then it’s pretty cool I guess”, or the gem: “Thank you, Oatmeal, for looking like I already ate you before I eat you.”

But on this particular night, he did this one: “Thank you, Turtle wax, for sounding like what the Ninja Turtles get before swimsuit season.”

So being the attentive advertiser that I am, I smelt product placement a mile away. Is it possible that, included in NBC’s media pack for the Tonight Show was the option to sponsor a Thank You note? After some digging, it turns out it is.

It was beautiful, and NBC deserve a medal for the almost poetic way they understood, harnessed and exercised the growing phenomenon which is “native advertising”. For those looking for a definition, Native advertising is when brand messaging is incorporated seamlessly into normal content that consumers are already consuming; and the more crafty the advertiser is, the more undetected it goes.

I’ve searched back over the archive of Thank You notes and found many more examples of where advertisers have clearly taken advantage of this media option, and to their credit, I never picked it up.

I am a big fan of this type of messaging. I believe ad fatigue is a real thing, and we media types cannot pretend it isn’t happening. Online’s answer is to simply falsify the media impressions and clicks so that advertisers cannot see just how bad it is – but people really are turning off to large, static squares invading their space.

The irony is that advertising makes the world go round; because without it we wouldn’t have easy access to our favorite apps, news, films, entertainment, and basically any stimulus that makes life worth living. Turn off ads and you go back to 1970.

But that doesn’t mean that advertisers cannot compromise, and address these shifting mindsets by innovating with how their media is bought, placed and served.

Out of Home, a particular favorite channel of mine, is no different. With the explosion of digital screens in the market, you could walk by a sign that shows the latest celebrity gossip, and directly beneath it have a message showing how much Kylie Jenner’s outfit costs at Target.

Or you could see a digital roadside billboard with live traffic updates, and oh, the next Shell service station on your journey. And this is true, you could even have today’s connected cars driving by and seeing how much gas is left in their tank on a large screen, as well as how many miles they have left before needing to fill up again.

Those are not ads that people are used to, and in 2016 you are going to see more messages that don’t appear to be ads at all – but that compel you more than static messaging ever did to connect and engage with the brands who ultimately enable the content we couldn’t live without.

Mike Gamaroff
Mike Gamaroff