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Lukas Kircher: Native advertising should not ‘blend in’

How much effort should be put towards securing a truly native feel to your offerings? And when do they become too native? What should an agency offer to stay relevant to clients today and how do agencies and publishers avoid fighting each other? Lukas Kircher, founder and partner at Germany's leading content marketing agency C3 certainly has strong opinions on these subjects and on the quality of advertising today which he deems to be 90 per cent "crap".

This article is reproduced with thanks to Native Advertising Institute, a FIPP member. See the original article here. Jesper Laursen, CEO of Native Advertising Institute, will lead a panel discussion on native advertising at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017 in London, the UK. Meet him there.

Native Advertising Institute interviewed him at Native Advertising DAYS 2016. You can sign up for notifications about this year's conference here.

Avoid making native advertising ‘blend in’

“The most important thing is the quality of the content and the relevance for the target group. This is the real success factor [of native advertising] and not so much how well it blends in on a publisher’s site. In fact, this is a quality we should try to avoid.

RELATED: Why tone of voice is the key to good native advertising

The problem with content where the main strategy is to blend into the publisher’s portal is that you start misleading people and they get the feeling that this is PR in another form of typography, this is marketing language in another form of design and they simply don’t like a brand doing that. And they also question the quality of the publisher doing that.”

Most content marketing strategies are not strategies

“Most of the content marketing strategies out there are in reality content marketing production strategies.

But it’s not the full marketing strategy that has to convert into sales, into leads, into thought leadership, into engagement KPIs. In order to do that you have to first develop a coherent content marketing strategy and then follow up in content production, in media and so on.”

Brands don’t need to become publishers

“There is this saying that brands have to become publishers. I’m not 100% sure if this is a good idea if you look at the publishing industry and the state it is in right now.

RELATED: How publishers can set up successful in-house content studio teams

But the basic idea is, of course, is can we produce communication that is so interesting or inspiring or in another way wanted by the target audience that it’s not seen as a distraction to what they actually want to see?

In some niches, we do see that brands play a role that formerly has been played by a classic pure publisher and I’m not sure how this will develop further.”

“Everything will be conversational”

“In the triangle between mobile and conversational marketing, meaning messaging, programmatic and machine learning, meaning how can you be more relevant at the right time on the right spot on the right device, and this more content driven kind of advertising we will see a complete revolution in the way we talk to actual human beings and it’s conversational. Everything will be conversational.”

People are fleeing from social media

“Social has started to be a very noisy, very brandish environment as well. A lot of people are fleeing from social media to private media such as messengers, people-to-people networks and stuff like that.

And advertising can’t follow them there, so the pressure to be really really good at content-centric strategies will even be more important for brands.”

We live in a content shock

“The question is do we already live in a content shock as they used to call it? I think we do but not because of the sheer quantity of the content but because there’s just too much pull content out there; content that nobody outside of the boardroom of a brand is really interested in and this is something we have to tackle because this won’t go away.

RELATED: How AI will push the limits of native advertising

This is a revolution in the way we talk to people as a brand and we need to be better at it. We need to have more quality and as soon as we are able to tackle that, there will be so many cases where just one piece of content at the right moment, on the right channel will deliver exactly what the brand wants and will also be inspiring or helpful for exactly the right kind of people.”

Agencies need to be better at handling complexity

“The level of complexity in marketing strategies has been rising over the last couple of years. It’s our job as agencies to help brands in the execution of business strategy to marketing strategy to channel strategy to conversion strategy and then attribution among channels.

This is not the kind of marketing we did 30 years ago. It needs new kinds of agencies that are more complex. It also needs a new kind of understanding on the brand side and a lot of experimenting which is not always very common in big companies.”

Classic advertising will play a minor role

“We foresee a market where content driven communication is not an exotic side project to classic advertising but it’s the other way around. You will still have a little bit of classic advertising and branding but the majority of communication will be content driven conversations.

RELATED: Advertisers and brands need to adapt to the new reality

A new era of collaboration between brands, publishers and agencies 

“The brands are starting to build brand newsrooms and it makes absolute sense. It makes no sense to give the whole chunk [of marketing] to an agency, it makes no sense to give the whole chunk to a publisher because they both have different interests.

It makes sense to go into a new era of collaboration between the three of them; brands, agencies and publishers.

How do you avoid that publishers and agencies become opponents in a budgeting game of a brand? I think there will be a divide between agency set-ups where the attitude is; we are so competitive we can’t work together with other agencies or publishers. And others that understand that collaboration is the key to making the clients happy. And that’s where we want to go.”

“90 per cent of advertising is crap”

“I think there are great examples out there of fantastic high-quality work which will always exist in advertising. But there is 90 per cent crap out there and I am looking forward to the time when this is not happening on my iPhone.”

Jesper Laursen, CEO of Native Advertising Institute, will lead a panel discussion on native advertising at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October 2017 in London, the UK. Meet him there.

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