Advertising sucks: why content is the next frontier for brands

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Traditional advertising broadcasts typically one-way brand sell messages to audiences regardless of whether they know the brands, need the product, or even care. The average person is exposed to more than 5,000 such messages a day.

Advertising fatigue is a reality. ‘Banner blindness’, where consumers fail to notice banners that are supposed to draw their attention and entice them to click through to the advertiser’s homepage, is also seen as a huge problem by brands and agencies. According to Media Post, 60 per cent of internet users are unable to recall the last display ad they saw, “suggesting that brands are wasting millions of dollars in ads that consumers don’t remember” (Sullivan 2013). In addition, banners and pop-up ads are widely seen as a nuisance on mobile (Vaynerchuk 2015), which is responsible for more than 50 per cent of all digital media consumption in the US (comScore 2014). Further, there are widespread viewability issues across both desktop and mobile, a problem augmented by the ongoing rise of adblocking, which reaches 22 per cent of all mobile users in the UK alone (IAB 2016).

Traditional advertising by itself has lost much of its punch: a push approach that’s getting lost amid the ocean of commercial messages being broadcast at people every second of every day.

Content marketing is about cutting through with a fresh approach: it’s about pull – bringing consumers to your side by speaking to them as though you’ve known them for years and demonstrating you care about the same things as they do. It’s about offering value upfront — a story that makes them feel something. It’s about bridging your brand and their world.

We find that using content to start conversations that are relevant to culture, telling stories about dynamic people from worlds that are outside that of the brands core market can act as a trojan horse for taking brands into new, bigger audiences, and ultimately recruiting a new army of advocates.


The fact is people do not share ads. But they do share stories that resonate and speak to their identity. Content has potential for wider and organic reach and holds an appeal that cuts across demographics and markets in a way that advertising rarely sees.

Ultimately, the branded content we create has the potential to elevate products in a way that advertising can’t.

To see an example of branded content that works, check out our ongoing campaign for Destination Canada

Simon Baker, MD Agency, TCO London

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