In 2015, Urban Airship released an article about moving into an era of unadvertising. The graphic to the left shows a model of how typical advertising is transitioning into the unadvertising era as consumers take more control.

Some refer to unadvertising as “honest marketing.” According to a report from Stylus Life, consumers are fueling the unadvertising movement because of their desire for raw realism. Small Luxury Hotels is an example of a company that has taken the unadvertising approach to heart by providing minimalist ads for their hotels that feature plain text, monochromatic backgrounds, and no images. Their campaign aims to flatter independent thinking guests without flashy advertising and by focusing on a non-branded conversation. According to Sarah Harkness of Ehotelier, “Traditional advertising methods are becoming relics as brands move towards influencer marketing and social media channels.”

Below we’re going to take a look at what each shift in advertising means and how it has changed to meet the desires of consumers.

1. Interruption to Invitation: Advertisers need to move away from display ads that are showy and distracting and instead share content that is integrated directly into what the consumer is already reading. This is called invitation-driven engagement. By integrating the advertising into content consumers are already reading, brands are promising consumers they will receive value for the interaction. According to DIGIDAY, “The key to invitation-driven engagement is a deep understanding of the context and content the consumer is engaged with.”

2.Broadcast to Precision Targeting: Businesses can be more or less precise depending on the platform they decide to use. Andrea Gellert of OnDeck, in an interview with Forbes, discusses how important precision targeting is, depending on the industry. For example, in her financial sector they heavily precision target because their services are data based. Precision targeting allows them to focus more on the overall customer funnel versus just the top half which is what most businesses focus on (customer acquisition).

3. Reach/Frequency to Moments that matter: Consumers have shifted to wanting moments that matter. This comes in the form of the Uber app, for example. Users are able to get a ride without any exchange of money and nearly instant drivers. This is a product that not only does the company love, but consumers do because it provides something they need in a meaningful and useful way. Unilever’s Global SVP of Marketing Marc Mathieu said, “Brands need to bring something useful and entertaining to the table for their consumers.

4. One Screen to  Multiscreen: ThinkwithGoogle discussed the impact of living in a multiscreen world and how it impacts advertising. According to their study, 90% of all media interactions today are screen-based. Since multiscreen interactions are becoming the norm thanks to smartphones, tablets, PCs and televisions, brands need to strategize how to market on these devices together to help consumers achieve their goals. Google’s research found that, “The prevalence of sequential usage makes it imperative that businesses enable customers to save their progress between devices.” Brands can help accomplish this by adding saved shopping carts or signed-in experiences to keep consumers engaged.

5. Paid media to owned media (apps): Owned media is, “any web property that you can control and is unique to your brand.” This is usually in the form of a website or blogs/social media channels. The content you create on these is yours and is driven by your content marketing strategy. Since owned media like social media and blogs are considered brand extensions, by having more you can extend your brand’s presence. As a result, owned media success is usually measured by dedicated social media analytic tools versus paid media which is measured by paid search analytics.

6. Brand controlled to Consumer controlled: With 67% of internet users on social media platforms, consumers are in control now after a change in how they access content from their favorite brand’s social media platforms. They actively check for updates on their time instead of waiting for a brand to send them a notification. Brands like The Honest Company and Dollar Shave Club have allowed consumers to dictate the products they release by sharing what they really want.

7. Primetime to My time: Consumers want ads and commercials on their own terms and time. This is especially true for television. An article by The Guardian described the possible end of 30 second television ads. Customers no longer want to have the time they set aside interrupted by ads. They want to engage on their own terms and time and not be told when they should be engaging with a brand.

8. Location is a place to Location is a profile: Location based advertising is a newer form of marketing that has a huge influence on consumers and is a critical element of a brand’s marketing strategy. This form of advertisement is based on the immediacy factor and the need for consumers to have instant answers. Location based data allows brands to develop profiles for their consumers based on real time behaviors. According to the Location Based Marketing Association (LBMA), “75% of marketers believe location-based marketing is important for their business, but only 65% of them think it’s accurate.”

9. Transactional to Relationships: Forrester analysts released an article titled The End of Advertising, The Beginning of Relationships. The article recommends that marketers take $2.9 billion out of digital display advertising and instead invest it into building relationships. This is due to consumers not wanting interruption based ads. Brands need to look at developing relationships with their consumers instead. Some companies are taking this approach by personalizing their AI’s that consumers use – such as Alexa and Siri.

Because consumers are choosing their brand relationships, unadvertising has become an acceptable form of marketing. This is especially true as we begin to move more towards the Internet of Things.

Does your company utilize unadvertising in their marketing strategies or is it still holding strong to traditional advertising? Please share your thoughts below!

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About Author

Tim has been building, designing, and executing websites since 1999, and joined Americaneagle.com in 2009. His specialties include online e-commerce consulting, web and business marketing, and project management. With technical and creative savvy, Tim is a born entrepreneur & problem-solver. When not staring soulfully at Google Analytics, Tim enjoys roughing it Apple-free in the great outdoors.

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