Ad blocking software use has been on a consistent rise.
Even Google is getting in on the game by adding an ad blocker to their Chrome browser.
And they’re taking things even further. They’re reaching out to publishers to notify them if they have “annoying ads“.
Things have gotten really bad on some publishing websites the last few years.
The newspaper sites are often the worst.
I get it.
Journalists, writers and everyone in the news business needs to pay the bills. Newspapers need subscribers or ads.
The thing is…people don’t really want to do either. They might put up with ads, but not if they’re annoying.
I was listening to a podcast with AJ Hawk the other day. He has young kids and they were watching something on regular TV one day and he said the kids freaked out when a commercial played.
Dad, what is this?! Fast forward! Where is our show!
You’ve probably had the same feeling when opening a site expecting one thing only to see some crazy ad trying to get your attention. You feel cheated. You feel violated.
Look, I don’t think advertising is going away anytime soon. But if you’re a business there is a positive side to this.
Ad blockers are great for consumers. And they’re also good for businesses.
You can take on the roll of content creator because you don’t need ads. You just need to sell your own product or service.
Here are some tips for embracing this change and taking advantage of the shift away from ads.
1. Know Your Sales Process
This involves your business, your customer and the way you come together.
I like to think about how you would interact with a potential customer in person. Someone that doesn’t even know you exist. They might not even know that they could benefit from what you’re selling. But they’re the ideal customer. You’re the ideal business for them.
How do you connect?
If you’re in person you’re probably chatting about common interests. You help them with a question. You earn their trust and it kind of goes from there.
You probably wouldn’t walk up to someone in the grocery store and jump right into your sales pitch.
The sales process usually has many steps.
With content, the first step is earning attention. Then earning trust. And eventually discussing challenges the person has and how your business can help with those struggles.
As people continue to use ad blockers and avoid ads they’re going to look at other sources for their content. That’s where your business has an advantage.
You don’t need ads on your blog or video channel or things like that.
You can present the straight content. People will love it. They’ll instantly get what they want.
But you have to remember that they want the content. They don’t want what you’re selling…yet.
You can introduce them where it makes sense. By using your brand as the author. By asking them to visit your about page when they’re done reading your content.
Let’s say you’re in the grocery store and you see someone choosing between apples. You step in and offer a tip. It helps them. They thank you. You say, “By the way my name is John and I own the apple orchard just outside of town. Here’s my card. Have a good day.”
That’s normal progression through the sales process. No ads needed. It’s branded content.
2. Breaking News vs. What It Means
Some journalists are obsessed with breaking the news. It seems tiring. They’re worried about getting credit for breaking the news.
The reality is that consumers don’t really care.
They don’t care because within minutes everybody is reporting the news.
What consumers really care about what the news means for them.
You can break news in your industry. There is value there. But don’t stress about it. You can provide much better content by providing direction to your target customers about what the news means for them.
Let’s say you own that apple orchard. You could break the news that a certain strain of apples has too much trace of glyphosate. That’s valuable. But you could take it a step further by offering alternative suggestions. Or giving consumers a checklist of what to look for and ask when buying apples.
3. Answer Questions
That leads us into another way to create branded content: answering questions.
It’s really that simple.
Any form of content marketing (blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.) usually entertains, enlightens or educates.
You can do all three. I like educating.
And with content marketing you’re not really preaching. You’re putting the information out there for people that are looking for it.
What are the questions your target customers are asking?
Provide the answers with your content and over time you’ll earn their attention through just about any channel including search and social.
I watch the NFL and some journalists are really good. They’ll tell players, “I’m only asking this question because fans keep asking me to ask you.”
Journalists are conduits for questions.
When you know that your customers have questions creating content becomes easier.
Lots of media companies will struggle with ad blocking. Businesses will struggle too. The ones that rely on annoying ads on publishing sites to reach customers.
But ad blockers are good for consumers.
And they can be good for businesses too. It’s good for the businesses that embrace the idea of branded content.
Are you ready to embrace branded content at your business?