Mid-Year Report: 5 Things We’ve Learned So Far in 2013

|Brandon Carter

1. We Still Can’t Define Native Advertising

Not that there haven’t been noble attempts. Among more recent definitions is embedded native advertising which I sort of like. It somehow seems more descriptive of the kind of advertising we’re really talking about — those sponsored posts that are cropping up with more frequency in your Facebook feed, Sponsored Tweets, and even some placements on publisher homepages. Who knows when this thing’s going to get solved. My advice? Keep creating awesome content while the industry sorts itself out. In the end, content doesn’t need any camouflage. Ads on the other hand…

2. Privacy is a Commodity

Between Snowden’s NSA bombshell, mobile apps as tracking devices and the proliferation of Google Glass, now more than ever it seems consumers’ privacy is completely endangered. As our reliance on the internet and our connected devices increases, the debate’s just getting started. As a personalized discovery engine, privacy is an issue we’re incredibly aware of and deeply committed to addressing responsibly. If you’re curious about how we treat privacy and cookies you can take a look at our content guidelines.

3. We now have a phrase to describe our weekends – “Binge Viewing”

Netflix’s foray into original programming with House of Cards caused quite a stir back in the spring. Suddenly, Netflix’s utility to greater society was crystal clear: feeding the binge viewing needs of everyday Americans. Having previously satisfied these appetites with programming under license, Netflix decided to test the binge viewing theory on a brand new series. That is, without the benefit of years of critical appraisal, awareness, and recommendations from our friends (how many people implored you to watch “Mad Men” before you spent a weekend getting to know Mr. Draper?), could a new series with heavyweight talent produce the kind of hyper-engagement Netflix was seeing across the programming they were licensing from other networks? If House of Cards was any indication, the answer is yes. Netflix has gone on to produce to a number of other offerings, including the return of Arrested Development (for which binge watching was explicitly not recommended) and Orange is the New Black, which is enjoying great reviews. Netflix is still very much in the learning phase of its new model, which may mean the streaming provider varies its approach to programming in the future. But for now, let’s all enjoy the buffet while it lasts.

4. There’s No Longer Any Excuse for a Bad Mobile Experience

While it’s still somewhat shocking just how many web properties are in no way built for for mobile consumption, the industry has made some impressive strides in the last year, thanks in large part to the growing popularity of responsive and adaptive design (the latter representing a variation on responsive) . And let’s not forget “mobilized” sites – those built specifically for consumption on a small screen – and mobile apps. If anything, there are too many options for creating an engaging mobile experience, a good problem to have. For an excellent guide on the differences between each approach, check out this helpful breakdown.

5. Viral Marketing Has Evolved From a Shout to a Whisper

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” and Oreo’s big Super Bowl score may not seem related beyond the fact that they have emerged as the gold standard of viral marketing. One drew audiences in and broke their hearts with an utterly revealing exercise and the other told the equivalent of a grand inside joke on Twitter, but therein lies their compatibility. In their own ways, both messages were remarkably inclusive, intimate even, extending empathy in the case of the “Real Beauty Sketches” and breaking the tension of an unprecedented blackout during the Super Bowl, itself a shouty advertising bonanza, with a simple joke  in less than 140 characters and a jpeg. Here’s to hoping their success begins to move us out of the realm of crazed advertising that some marketers are still chasing.

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Brandon Carter

Brandon Carter

Brandon Carter is a Content Specialist at Outbrain. He began his career as a staff journalist for the Maine weekly... Read more

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