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The opportunity for brand integration in the Ad-blocker Era

Updated: Jul 3

You’ve been planning your new advertising campaign for months. Marketing budgets have been blown on a television commercial (TVC), media has been booked, and finally – after spending what felt like weeks in post-production (but which, in reality, was really only a few days) your new ad is ready. And it’s the perfect blend of need-to-know product info and humour, packaged into a punchy 30-second format that has Loerie written all over it. You cannot wait for your audience to see it and for those product sales to roll in.


Except… when the TVC flights, the sales aren’t rolling in quite as you expected. Perhaps your half-a-minute masterpiece missed the mark? Or, could it be that the number of people who actually watched your ad was a whole lot lower than you thought?

It’s very likely the latter, as an estimated 80% of TV commercials are found to have no effect at all. There are a couple of possible reasons for this.


Viewers are now consuming their broadcast content in a number of ways and across multiple channels – not just linear TV. Streaming audiences are growing, and while many streamers are now starting to introduce advertising-funded subscription tiers (while others, such as Viu, have been there from the get-go with a hybrid subscription and advertising-funded model), a great deal of streaming content is still without ads. In fact, Nielsen’s Gauge study recently revealed that almost half of the total streaming market is ad-free. As a result, you could be missing audiences entirely.


And if your ad is online, you’ll need to contend with the growing use of ad-blockers. According to the report, Ad blockers and advocacy: Why Gen Z is blocking paid ads in favour of real voices, almost 100% of Gen Zers will skip a commercial if given the option, and 63% use ad blockers to side-step online ads.


Yet another factor is the so-called ‘attention economy’, with one study from Microsoft Corp finding that the average human attention span has shrunk from 12 to eight seconds. But, as Adams points out, if our goldfish attention spans are solely the problem, how are we spending hours binge-watching series or doggedly scrolling through Instagram?


The issue is more likely to be a lower tolerance for that which interrupts us from doing what we want to do. Now, there is much more noise and far more brands vying for our attention – and we have a lot less time. If an ad can be embedded into content in a way that seamlessly holds the consumer’s attention, then that brand has a fighting chance.


According to research from Lumen, an increase in ad view time is directly correlated with an increase in sales, finding that a commercial watched for three seconds meant a sales conversion on 50% of occasions.


Picture this. You’re watching an episode of Generations, and your show is interrupted by a Steers advert, right at a cliff-hanger scene. Frustrated, you use the opportunity to check your emails on your phone. For the brand, this disruption was a missed opportunity to connect.


Now, imagine if that cliff-hanger scene was built around the brand. There’s Karabo and Tau tucking into a juicy-looking burger while plotting the demise of their rivals. You’re no longer annoyed – and when dinner time rolls around, a subconscious craving has been ignited, so you open Mr. Delivery and order a Steers burger.


This is the power of brand integration, which refers to the incorporation of brands or products into content. It provides a powerful opportunity for brands, as it allows them to reach consumers in a receptive space, and in a way that is unskippable and unblockable. Brands can be integrated into influencer content, the script of a TV show, and even in-game advertising.


Here's three things for marketers who are keen on exploring brand integrations to consider.


Know your audience

Rule number one of advertising applies here too: know your audience. Are they watching Skeem Saam or The Crown And is this show an organic fit for your brand? Does your consumer spend the bulk of their time on TikTok or playing Candy Crush? Do they catch their favourite shows on their TV, laptop or mobile phone – or perhaps all three? 


You need to know what your target audience looks like; the content they’re consuming, and how they consume that content. Then, tap into these insights and find a way of delivering your message in a way that resonates with them.


Understand platform and context

TikTok has taken every social media lesson and cultural moment and rolled this out at scale and speed, making certain brands or products fly before the advertising world even truly comprehends how to tap into this.


Understand the platform opportunities that exist, identify the ones that make the most sense for your brand and then figure out how to leverage these. For example, gaming which sees a captive audience offers an opportunity to insert your brand into this virtual world, such as an outdoor billboard on a football field or next to a racetrack  – but, it needs to make sense for your brand.


Work with the right partner

As this is a relatively new world – and with platforms and audience preferences evolving at rapid rates  –  it is important to work with a partner that specialises in integrations, with the necessary network, knowledge and expertise.


That’s where Reach Africa comes in. The right brand integration partner will help you identify the best platforms and approach to connect with your audience, helping you get real return on your investment.

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