As the digital world has exploded, there has always been a slightly enviable view that PR professionals bestow upon their ad industry brethren. There is lowered client pressure to make placements, as ad spots tend to be guaranteed by their nature (although I’ll remain silent about their trust and credibility levels), measurement and analytics comes slightly easier, and ad tech has blazed light years ahead of PR tech, even if this is changing rapidly. Of course, every dog has its day and every flack has a time period where the tables turn a bit. While ad revenue isn’t going anywhere, recent developments in ad blocking are due to make a slight dent in the aforementioned enviable position.
Effect No.1: Small business will be priced out of the ad game and lean toward PR.
Small business already has a difficult time in ad land. Without massive branding campaign dollars or a significant sales force in place to take advantage of lead generation spending, the ad game can be a tough one for this market sector. This effect will be multiplied as less ad inventory is available due to it being blocked, cranking up prices that might have once let them at least stay involved. If one were to place it into a simple formula, it would look a bit like this…more ads blocked = higher prices for non-blocked inventory = greater barrier to audiences for smaller businesses and startups.
One of the core ways small business has always been able to play with the big boys is that an exceptional story is an exceptional story, no matter the company size, so earned media creates a level playing field that has seen many small companies skyrocket to international and social media fame. If ad blocking picks up steam, small businesses will push for greater PR initiatives to better optimize ROI and let themselves remain both seen and heard. The point for PR pros to think on here is that Ad blocking will indeed create higher demand for their services across small business.
Effect No. 2: Tolerance for traditional ad formats will continue to diminish.
There are some amazing ad spots out there that command attention, but there is also a lot of ad blindness. While Apple’s new iOS 9 content-blocking extensions in and of themselves are not game-changers, their widespread attention should be a warning sign. As more and more ad blockers gain popularity, fewer and fewer individuals will tolerate ads of many types and become less accustomed to seeing them.
When we couple ad blindness with low ad tolerance, we also must shift brand strategy. What do consumers tolerate? The answer is exceptional content. For content marketers and PR firms (is there a true difference anymore?), this is a win. Long-form content and editorial is their domain, and they know how to own it. Savvy PR folks will be able to capitalize on a landscape that drives greater initiatives toward branded content, earned editorial and brand journalism.
Effect No. 3: PR firms will have to start utilizing far stronger best practices to garner the results they are used to.
Let’s assume that ad blocking reduces the number of consumers that see a brand message. As brands scurry toward reclaiming these eyeballs, a priority will be placed on media channels that simply can’t be blocked. PR is an open door to these channels and presents an easy opportunity. But like any other piece of the marketing pie, what gets popular soon gets crowded.
Already there are far more PR professionals out there than there are journalists. If brands push for greater PR campaigns, it means that more journalists will get more pitches, which can only lead to fewer results. The exception here is for the truly great PR folks. Those who know that there is more to life than shotgun pitches also understand their industries, develop deep media relationships and think far outside the box. If ad blocking continues to rise, PR individuals have far more opportunity to craft great sales pitches to a client, but they also are going to have to up their game in order to deliver the results they promise and prove they can walk the walk if they talk the talk.
At the end of the day, PR pros need to start understanding the positively correlated place they exist within when it comes to all segments of the marketing landscape. Whether there are changes in advertising, the social media landscape, SEO or sales enablement, the separate parts always effect the whole .
Guest contributor Zachary Weiner is the CEO of boutique communications and content relations agency, Emerging Insider. Read the original story from Bulldog Reporter here.
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