Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Advertising may be dead, but there’s still plenty for marketers to live for

By Frédéric Taillier, General Manager Nordics, impact.com

In our world of partnership marketing, we announce the death of advertising a lot – sometimes for our own amusement, but always with absolute conviction. The reasons are numerous: the trust has gone; the understanding between advertiser and consumer has been tarnished by shabby practices and oversaturation; the death of cookies poses insurmountable technical challenges; and in any case, advertisers are spending more for a diminishing return.

That might sound bleak, but look in the right places and what you see is not decline but regeneration: new methods of reaching consumers that swap bad old ways for positive new ones, based on better, nobler sentiments. In digital marketing, partnerships offer welcome good news for beleaguered brands. So for those lamenting what’s been lost, watch out instead for the fine new things that are coming down the pipeline courtesy of the ever-growing business of partnerships. Such as:

Advocacy

Even at its best, advertising can only ever tell you what a brand wants you to know about itself. When consumers broadly trusted advertising, that wasn’t necessarily a problem; now that they don’t, it definitely is. It is fortunate, then, that credible third-party advocacy, so essential to the modern consumer journey, is one of the key characteristics of the partnership economy.

Underpinning all well-executed influencer marketing, commerce content, B2B and other partnerships is a sense of authenticity: a person or brand a consumer already trusts is suggesting something else they believe that individual might like. Certainly, consumers are far more likely to consider a credible suggestion when it comes from an impartial source. No amount of traditional paid advertising can match the power of advocacy, as we’re happy to explain in more detail.

Trust

Commerce content that matches high-quality merchants with high-quality publishers has been one of the great successes of the partnership economy in recent times. And trust – a mighty and unparalleled asset to any brand or publisher – is the essence of those partnerships.

When an e-commerce partnership leverages an audience’s faith in a publisher’s platform to introduce products they are glad to have found, the result is an all-round benefit: new customers and higher-than-average order value for the merchant, incremental revenue for the publisher and an enhanced experience for consumer, publisher and brand alike.

Integrity

Trust, of course, is a fragile thing, and once lost, it is very, very difficult to restore. The faith consumers place in a trusted publisher – or indeed affiliate – must be treated with great care, which is why integrity is vital when constructing any such partnership. If, for purely commercial reasons, a partner gives its stamp of approval to products it doesn’t genuinely endorse, or that fit badly with its audience, not only will the endorsement have limited effect, but the bond between publisher and reader is weakened.

On our own patch in the Nordics, e-commerce is as popular as almost anywhere in the world. For publishers, that heightens the potential reward of commerce content, but also emphasises the importance of honesty and integrity in the development of commerce content products. The principal aim for publishers, as impact.com chief executive officer David A. Yovanno recently put it, should be a commitment to honest reporting and careful consideration of the consumer. Commerce content is becoming a real revenue opportunity for publishers, and honest dealing will ensure that it remains one.

Progression

In the digital marketing world, where walled gardens are growing by the minute, costs of inventory are rising and cookie-based methods of targeting and attribution are slipping from marketers’ grasp, partnerships have found their moment.

One reason marketers are swapping traditional advertising for partnership methods is because the old ways are indeed dying. But another is that under the banner of partnerships we have found better new ways – trustworthy, consumer-friendly, privacy-first methods with integrity and accountability, all managed and tracked via sophisticated, automated platforms. As advertising withers, partnerships continue to bloom, and that’s cause for celebration.

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