In a recent post, I covered that content marketing really takes three forms: Entertainment, Thought leadership/Education and Utility. I believe that Utility can be the most difficult to get right but Utility can also be the most powerful of the three when you do get it right. When you can provide your audience with something that they need that is relevant to your brand it is a huge win.
D&AD is an organization that exists to stimulate, enable and award creative excellence in design and advertising. That is a pretty focused raison d’etre but no small task given that 99% of all advertising just blows, but I digress. D&AD’s audience is most likely other advertising professionals and people who just appreciate great creative storytelling. So what did they do? The worked with BETC, a Paris based agency, to create a plugin for Chrome and Firefox that blocks “regular pre-roll ads” and replaces them with creative that has won D&AD awards in past years. Check it out here.
Problem: Most advertising sucks and we don’t have a way to skip past pre-roll yet.
The Message: Stimulating and enabling creative excellence.
The Solution: Install our plugin and we will only show you work that has won awards and we consider worthy.
This is interesting to me on a couple of levels.
1. This is another example of technology defeating the interruption/ push the message out mentality of marketers. Sure, it is still pushing messages out but the message here is that if you have to sit through some ads, why not see the best the industry has to offer rather than something that is supposed to be targeted at you. I am sure that this technology will not last forever- sites like Youtube can’t be happy about this and I am sure some controls will be put into place that will defeat this technology but as we have seen in the on-going arms race for controlling our screens it won’t be long before someone comes up with a something new to free us from sitting through advertising we are uninterested in.
2. D&AD is using this to only show ads that support their vision of stimulating and rewarding creative excellence but what if we used this to show our audience ads/video/content that we know they are interested in and relevant to them as well as our product or service? For example, what if Nike offers this to its audience who can opt in for branded content that they are interested in from Nike. This branded content could be everything from traditional ads to sporting news updates or other lifestyle information that the user is interested in and is relevant to what Nike offers. This would require a robust content generation machine but suddenly you go from an audience who is just counting the seconds until they can hit “skip this ad” to an audience that is engaged because you are offering them what they are interested in. In other words you move from interruption based marketing to marketing/messaging that your users actively opt in and want. They come to you.
I think this is a very clever piece of utility. It may not last forever as Youtube and Hulu and other content providers scramble to block this but for as long as it works it has power to bring the audience and the marketer closer together. This goes back to my original point- Utility is not easy to do but I believe is possibly the most powerful of the three content marketing “types” when it is done well.
Well done D&AD.