AdWeek Recap

Alas! AdWeek came to a screeching halt last night. With the exception of a few moments, it’s all been one big blur of a week. When I wasn’t cringing through dozens of talks on [insert buzzword here]-themed seminars, and preoccupied with the consumption of endless promotional gifts (first world problems anyone?), I met some brilliant people behind innovative brands.

My favorite talk “Nostalgia, Time Travel, and Thomas Edison in Social Advertising” featured Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti and GE’s Paul Marcum. During the case study of the legacy brand’s recent campaign focusing on consumers’ nostalgia of past decades, I experienced a stream of nerdgasmic moments of validation for native advertising.  I saw a glimpse of hope that advertisers are finally thinking more deeply about what it means to engage with consumers in a social context.

There’s no question that traditional display advertising is dead. However, I’m particularly curious to understand if, how, and why it was ever really alive… The very nature of display ads is aggressive, intrusive, and off-putting, much like the door-to-door salesman of the past century. It makes consumers resentful of the brand that’s trying to force its way into their lives.

With a supersaturated market of brands at their fingertips, consumers relate to brands that have a real story. In a world with hypercompetitive pricing, brands really need to gain our loyalty, respect, and trust, so much so that it goes beyond pricing. Authentic content that resonates with consumers distinguishes one brand from another in the trying moments of brand loyalty.

As daily consumers of hours of digital content, we’re prone to responding emotionally when our digital space is interrupted. Native advertising doesn’t disrupt the natural experience. In fact, it enhances the dialogue in meaningful ways. With targeting, native ads are delivered at the right moment to the right person. AdWeek IX drove the point that successful native ad campaigns involve carefully crafted creative content.

Consumers spend precious time finding the social experiences and networks in which they are most genuinely interested. Advertisers should work just as hard to ensure they can enhance those communities by sharing something meaningful.

Arton Gjonbalaj recently joined ThoughtLeadr to head up East Coast ad sales in New York, partnering with brands to help them exceed their marketing objectives. In his spare time, he slays display ad dragons. You should follow him on Twitter @ArtonGjonbalaj.