"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Reid Tatoris, co-founder of Are You A Human.
In the first season of “Mad Men,” there’s a great episode where the Sterling Cooper team comes across Volkswagen’s famous “Lemon” ad, from ’60s powerhouse agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. The ad – widely considered one of the 2oth century’s best – called the Beetle a lemon. It went on to describe the various ways in which that particular car had rolled off the assembly line full of flaws.
IKEA banner (before)
IKEA banner (after)
We’ve seen some good examples with native advertising as well. Early initiatives like this beautiful piece from Pepsi put time and effort into making something unique, and they worked. When I finished that ad, I felt great because I enjoy looking at pictures of amazing places. I didn’t mind the presence of the brand because it brought me a positive experience.
People responded to these early efforts because people always respond to good content. As it scales, some are starting to question the effectiveness of native advertising. I don’t think native advertising as a category is becoming less effective. I think that as more people jump into the ring with lower-quality work, you end up with lower-quality results.
When the Atlantic ran a now-infamous Scientology campaign, people responded with collective outrage because they felt tricked. The way to get real engagement has always been to create great content, not to trick someone into clicking a link. As we scale any new tool and focus less on the execution of content, results will always suffer.
Luckily, industry leaders like the IAB are starting to recognize the importance of advertising’s emotional component. They called for performance metrics that measure what a user feels, not just what they do, in a recent white paper, “Defining and Measuring Digital Ad Engagement In a Cross-Platform World.”
There are still lots of creative minds out there that want to do interesting work. I’m glad to see some of those who make ads start to remember that at its core, advertising is about touching people’s hearts. With digital, we have tools and abilities that are light years ahead of what was available in the ’60s.
If Volkswagen could do it with ink and paper, we can do it today.