Main content

Digital media disruptions VII - ad blockers and the mobile content imperative

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed September 13, 2015
Yes, it's time for another gut-check review of digital media disruptions - the enterprisey view. We deconstruct the big stories and recommend a course of action.

Our column rules: pick the notable stories from my curated digital media Scoop.IT collection, give them a hard look from the enterprise side, and, where appropriate, recommend a course of action.

Why media companies shouldn't let their traffic run out the side door
by: Paul Berry and Josh Elman
key excerpt: ""When a Casual user visits a site for the first time, the property often tries very hard to convert them. Immediately, the user is bombarded by popup screens to “like on Facebook”, or “subscribe by email”, or ads that attempt to monetize the user. All of these experiences can scare the Casual right off of the site. Better to play it cool. Perhaps wait until the third time a Casual user visits to say, “Hi! We see you here a lot. Do you want to subscribe?”

enterprise relevance: High. This one hits any of us producing content with three monster topics. First, the question of whether to post content-in-full to streams such as Facebook. Second, the issue of visitors coming in through the "side door" via search or article links, changing the future of the home page. Third: Elman and Berry divide audiences into three groups, with recommends for each (Loyalists, Subscribers and Casual). Their advice above is for the Casual group.

best course of action:

  • Home page design still matters, but make sure the "side doors" contain the key action items and invites. Test the living crap out of how those look on mobile.
  • Once you post all your content to social networks, you're surrendering control of the conversion process. Separating content from conversion is a dangerous move that must be thought through carefully. Exceptions might include: guest author posts on sites that increase industry credibility. Or: video on YouTube you embed on your own site.

Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web
: Farhood Manju
key excerpt: "Now, more and more web users are escaping the daily bombardment of online advertising by installing an ad blocker. This simple, free software lets you roam the web without encountering any ads that shunt themselves between you and the content you want to read or watch."

enterprise relevance: High - if you're an ad-dependent media company. Medium if you rely on visitors from ads that might be blocked. Ad blocking is not a new technology, but adoption rates are building. Support for ad-blocking in iOS 9 ups the ante further. Media companies will be under pressure to re-invent. Ethics arguments about ad blockers are bullshit. There is nothing unethical about the technology. But - publishers may need to change access rights to content if the revenue model fails.

best course of action:

  • Ad blocking fits into a broader category that affects most enterprises: the caliber of user experience. Even if you're not collecting ad revenue, pop-up ads for events and newsletters fall under the same criteria. The benefits of aggressive ads should be contrasted against the fallout/annoyance.
  • Carefully measure the results of ad banner click through rates versus other means of attracting visitors through event signups, free ebooks, etc. User surveys and interviews may be needed to validate which promotions annoy and which content inspires loyalty.

Why Disney and ESPN will be OK
: Ben Thompson
key excerpt: "When it comes to TV, though, the equation is different: there simply isn’t that much compelling content out there. That is why Netflix’s response to the end of the Starz contract was not to brandish its subscriber base and wait for content providers to sign up for free, but rather the opposite: Netflix had to go and get content first, and pay a hefty price to do so, and only then turn its attention to attracting and retaining end users."

enterprise relevance: Higher than expected. Thompson compares the position of aggregators, like Google or Amazon or even Uber, with the different position of TV networks. In some industries, aggregation is far more valuable than any one unit (e.g. if one Uber car signs off, another is available most of the time). But in attention-dominated industries, superior content is what matters. Thompson argues that ESPN's exclusive sports broadcast contracts give it insulation against cord-cutting trends (though a digital/direct to subscriber model may be needed).

best course of action:

  • Study the value propositions of content aggregation, curation, and differentiation. Determine which have the most value in your industry, considering factors like depth of industry content, need for curated sources, lack of visible experts etc. Weigh the potential of paying exclusive rights to differentiating content.
  • A good reminder that more often than not, kickass content still wins. Decent content, however, is a questionable investment in most industries.

Best Practices: Don't Turn Content Into This Generation's Banner Ads
by: Jeff Rosenblum
key excerpt: "If we simply develop content because we think it's new, improved, quicker and easier than previous tactics, we're doomed to get the same disappointing results that we got from banner ads. We can't simply create content to offset the fact that interruptive advertising is being avoided at an unprecedented rate."

enterprise relevance: High. This piece is for corporate marketers who are so busy trying to making content "scale", they forget a wee detail: audiences will tune out assembly-line content. In the B2B context, kickass doesn't necessarily mean Madmen or Game of Thrones. It's really about experts communicating consistently in plain, honest language.

best course of action:

  • Avoid the temptation to chase "viral" content by choosing a content strategy that fits your audience. Then, stay the course.
  • Sometimes content doesn't suck - it's just used at wrong point in the sales or engagement process. Map content to the sales cycle, then re-evaluate the caliber of the content within that.

Bonus content: There's usually one piece I can't tie into the enterprise. This time around, it's The Demise of Kissing Suzy Kolber is a Flashpoint in the Journey of Sports Blogs. Even if you don't care about sports, this is a fascinating look at how the blogosphere has matured, and the fallout when independent voices are muted.

These pieces were picked from my curated channel, enterprise media disruptions. You can also view the entire digital media disruptions article series.

Image credit: Man changing his mood © Minerva Studio -

A grey colored placeholder image