Automating Ads in New Places

These days programmatic and native marketing are paving the way for digital marketers and creating quite a buzz in the community. Both programmatic and native advertising are trying to put the right ad, in the right place, for the right people. Let’s talk native marketing first. There’s a podcast creator called Gimlet Media that got in a tough spot with their audiences by accidentally using the story of a 9 year old in an advertisement without his (or his moms) knowing.

How would you feel if you thought you were being interviewed for a popular, respected, and interesting radio show but as it turns out, you were just being used in an ad? This happened to a nine year old because the person contacting him and him mom mentioned she was calling on behalf of a former producer of This American Life, and forgot to also explain that they were contacting him for an ad. This exact situation was something Gimlet Media had to deal with after they published their first podcast called Reply All, and put a story of a 9 year old (Riley) talking about his website in as an ad for the website building platform.

Gimlet Media

Gimlet Media advertises similarly to how their podcast sound. The host does the talking, and people are interviewed, and it sounds just like the podcast does. This is called Native Adverising: advertising that matches the form and function of the platform it is on, and is similar to the content the platform provides. This is sometimes confusing to users, and Gimlet Media wanted to be as transparent as possible. Instead of blending together their content and the ad content, they put all the ads for the entire season the same background music to make it obvious when they were discussing sponsored content.

The situation for Gimlet Media was a social media fiasco stemming from the first episode of their first Podcast. First, the miscommunication between the Riley’s (the 9 year old) mom and a Gimlet Media producer which led the mom to believe her son was to be featured on This American Life. “I work for This American Life’s Alex Bloomberg” is what the producer said. What she should have followed up with was, “I’m doing an ad for a podcast, and we would like to feature your sons story!” Sadly, this didn’t happen. The lack of communication of what the conversation would be used for sparked Riley’s mom to head to Twitter and sound off about how mad she was with the situation. Luckily, after a few months of this, Alex Bloomberg and Riley’s mom had a conversation about the situation, Bloomburg apologized profusely, and the apology was accepted.

An example of native advertising!

Native advertising is tricky because it can easily be confused with editorial content. I know when I read the Seattle Times website or another reputable (from my point of view) news site I am not en-guard for potential ads when looking at a news site, but now in 2015, that may be something to watch out for. According to this article, native advertising will not be overtaking traditional advertising quite yet, but it could do so later this year, or maybe next year. My question is will native advertising be confined to online only publications, or will I need to keep a keen eye out for “sponsored article” when I read the newspaper? Judging from the snapshot from Washington Post, looks like we can expect to see this more and more.

There was a native advertisement published by the New York Times online website for Shell (their first native ad ever!). I’m unsure if the original form of the ad looked the way it did for me when I found it, but I was pleasantly surprised how obvious it was that it was an advertisement. For starters, in the URL, the first part read “paidpost.” Second, at the top center of the page, it had the New York Times logo, and just below that it read, “paid post” with the Shell logo (this went away the second time I visited the page). The ad itself was different from other articles on the NYT page because of the cool graphics integrated with the article and the abundance of pictures. Take a look- I think you’ll agree the ad is different from editorial articles.

According to Peter Naylor, former evp at NBCUniversal, “programmatic marketing “is a catchall term that many people are using to categorize everything from behavioral and intent-based targeting to real-time bidding and exchange-based buying of inventory.” A newer, better version of an advertising mousetrap.

From what I gather, Programmatic means automating the buying, placement, and optimization of advertisements. Programmatic marketing is replacing the job humans used to have to do, and decreases the cost of labor for companies. It is also more efficient, and is able to provide a granulated view of customers, rather than one or two general personas. Ads are placed based on consumers past behavior online. For example, if you were recently looking at buying an iPad, you may see an ad for something similar! Similarly to AdWords, companies will bid on viewers for their ads, and whoever bids the highest, will get the viewers to see their ad.


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