Ad-blocking presents PR opportunity

Last week’s Guardian Changing Media Summit highlighted once again that ad-blocking, the practice of using software to remove banner ads from web pages, desktops and mobile phones when viewing content, is a major challenge for the media industry.

However, the continued rise of ad-blocking could provide the PR industry with new opportunities, according to comms experts from Edelman and Propeller PR.

At the conference, spokespeople from Hailo, Google and media and marketing agencies Mindshare and Neo@Ogilvy said the media challenge is to produce intelligent and interesting content for the consumer, particularly as ads are often low in quality.

This presents the PR industry with an opportunity, say Kieran Kent, MD at Propeller PR and Ben Hooper, senior director of content at Edelman. Here is what they said:

PR should show effectiveness across earned, owned and paid media

Propeller PR, with clients including Trinity Mirror, specialises in PR and content for the media and ad industry.

Kieran Kent, managing director at Propeller PR, said: “While it’s still early days, it’s clear that PR practitioners should be using this moment when marketers are reviewing all options to remind clients what PR can offer. Now is the time for the PR industry to show we can understand and work strategically across earned, owned and paid channels. We need to advance reasons why we should be involved in the early phases of campaign planning and be allowed to present creative concepts to senior decision-makers to deliver the strongest ROI on campaigns.

“As marketers reflect on, and evaluate, the impact of ad-blocking their focus is sure to shift to examine the value of other tactics, such as earned editorial and ‘native advertising’, or advertiser-sponsored content. Marketers want ideas that can work across a number of channels and can underpin an integrated campaign, and PR specialists can deliver when it comes to devising great storytelling content.”

PR helps create ‘people-first’ content

Ben Hooper, Edelman’s senior director of content, makes a case for comms experts to push marketers to raise the bar by ‘engaging genuinely’ with audiences. He added: “At Edelman, we are keeping a close eye on this rapidly evolving space. More clients are coming to us for counsel on how they can maximize budgets that are being jeopardised by ad-blocking. The obsession with new technologies that efficiently deliver a piece of comms en masse has led to the neglect of the most important part of the industry’s existence – audience experience. We must focus on creating people-first content that adds value to their experience instead of interrupting it.”

Put the focus on storytelling with PR

PR can lend a hand at creating great stories for brands. Hooper summed it up:Edelman is uniquely positioned to help clients facilitate change. We know that positively engaging audiences is about connecting with storytelling and having a conversation rather than shouting a message. Content that tells a strong engaging story has always been at the core of communications. When advertising and communications marketing is done right, consumers won’t want to block it at all.”


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