From push to pull: The changing role of advertising in 2015.

Kevin Neary, Digital Engagement Account Manager at MEC UK, takes a look at the ongoing evolution of the advertising landscape in 2015: The need to cut through, native advertising and moving from push to pull


Content has been around for as long as people have, and the growth of Web 2.0 and Social Media gave rise to industry experts and geeks all over the world standing up in conferences and seminar with slides depicting early hieroglyphics and primitive cave paintings citing them as the first status updates. Those paintings and drawing were a way for those ancient societies to express how they felt and communicate with one another.

Fast forward a few thousand years and we’re communicating with one another in exactly the same way; by leaving messages (both image and text) in strategically chosen locations so that people will see what we want them to see and form opinions or take action.In this context we’re talking about brands and target audiences or consumers, but the premise of how we communicate is timeless.

As an industry we communicate with consumers on a daily basis with messaging, deals and offers of all descriptions to help them spend their hard earned cash on one brand instead of another. Not only do we talk to them multiple times, but in multiple places, and the fact is there are a lot of messages we expect consumers to absorb every day. Research shows that each of us are exposed to over 2,000 advertisements each day. To add to this, research has shown that on average we only retain between 2 to 5 pieces of information absorbed each day.

The landscape is getting increasingly cluttered and in fact so much so that we’re expecting consumers to exceed their human capacity in what they remember and take in. The need to cut through is now absolutely paramount.

Adverts themselves need to evolve to help combat saturation; they need to be more useful and crucially, look less like ads! This isn’t an original thought, far from it. David Ogilvy, in 1956 said “the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement, and the more it looks like editorial, the more readers stop, look and read”. Of course he was talking about print ads but the sentiment is applicable to all types of advertising.

Essentially he’s saying people don’t want to be advertised to; people don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to. However if the advertisement seamlessly fits into the article they’re reading and it’s useful they’ll be open to it. This is where content and social media marketing comes into its own. Done well, it’s non-intrusive, it’s useful, it’s entertaining, and it’s the thing that helps align a brand with the values and interests of a target audience – turning that target audience in advocates. Once that happens the very people you’re trying to target become advertisers in their own right and they’re advertising your brand!

As an industry we have started to embrace this way of thinking and evidence of this exists in the increased investment in native advertising and social media marketing. Native facilitates ads that look and feel more like whatever it is the user is already engaged with. For example Facebook’s ‘native adverts’ are their promoted posts – branded content that appear in a user’s timeline but looks and feels like a regular status update.

In 2015 brands need to move away from a ‘push’ model of advertising as consumers adopt a more ‘pull’ model of consuming content. Content and social media marketing are the media agency’s best response to this. In 2015 this approach will facilitate brands becoming thought leaders and enable them to create advocates who will build brand affinity on their behalf.

Native advertising isn’t without it’s challenges, measuarability and demonstrating both short term and long term effects on a brand being significant hurdles to overcome. However, as a starting point, living and breathing a consumer first philosophy in supplying useful and genuinely interesting content into their owned environments designed to ‘pull’ them to your brand is a great place to start.

If you’d like a native chat to Kevin please contact him through the @MECUK Twitter handle.