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More Devices Just Means More, Not Better Ads

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Wednesday, 20 January 2016


“Dear Mister Brenner, I think you need these lovebirds after all. They may help your personality.” – Melanie Daniels – “The Birds,” Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions, 1963

I admit it.

I love reading, watching, listening to ads.

I also love good editorial – educational, informative, interesting editorial.

That’s probably why I recently reread two books on David Ogilvy, often called the father of advertising – Confessions of an Advertising Man and Ogilvy on Advertising.


His ads have stood the test of time.  He was a pioneer in information-rich, soft sell ads that didn’t insult the intelligence of his target audience.

He was even an early proponent – in a way – of what we have recently discovered as a hot, new, effective method of getting our messages across … native advertising.

He once said, There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers.”

Today’s native advertising is proving to be a way for media – all media – to survive in the shifting mediascape.

There was a time when native ads were identified as advertorials.  The label was smaller type than today’s free app user’s agreements but they were labeled.

Those days are gone though and clumsy, over-jargoned, hackneyed and even good ads appear everywhere.

Mitch Brenner observed, “Yes. I understand there are different varieties.”


Yeah, Whatever – People love to show off how many folks like their posts.  Not that they have any clue as to what liking it really means but still someone at least saw it.

Social media started the mad rush because when marketing types found that people were gathering there talking to each other, they figured what the heck we’ll throw ads at ‘em.

Actually, it was the lust for profits by social site investors that sold the dreams of millions of customers and billions in sales just ripe for the picking. You know, that same thirst for ad dollars that names stadiums, plasters logos on shirts, places products in TV shows/movies and places ads on anything that moves/doesn’t move.

Heck, if the price is right, entire towns will change their names!


Your Ad Here – It’s a little sad that it seems everything has an advertising price today.  Offer a few bucks and hey, you too can have a town with your name plastered on it.  Heck, people have even offered up anatomy ads.  The phrase “A Sucker is Born Every Minute” seems to include marketers.  

Ask any publisher or editor of legacy media and they’ll tell you they’ve been severely challenged by digital technology as ad dollars and readers move from print/TV/radio to other information/entertainment outlets.

The web, mobile and soon wearables have pushed standard media to find new ways to connect with readers and, more importantly, generate revenue.  

BAM!! Smart native advertising was new again.

Some folks like to say that native ads prosticize the editorial content but based on the folks I know, I agree with Ogilvy when it comes to truly professional journalists, “Does advertising corrupt editors? Yes it does, but fewer editors than you may suppose ... the vast majority of editors are incorruptible.”

Wannabes I’m not too sure of.

For some reason, people get their knickers in a knot when you mention native advertising.  But it has always been a good thing with us.

It’s all about gently branded but useful content  - travel, beauty, car sections; cars/soda/beer in movies - that may or may not persuade viewers.

You know, stuff you see, read/view because it’s of interest to you.

BI Intelligence reported that native ads reached $7.9 billion in 2014 and will grow to $21 billion in 2018.


New Name, New Game – To make advertorials seem more respectable, marketers had to come up with a better name for them; and obviously, native advertising sounds a lot better, a lot more acceptable.

BI’s research reinforced Ogilvy’s observation that “A good advertisement is one which - sells the product without drawing attention to itself” when they found that:

  • Social native ads will account for the biggest share of native ad revenue during this time period, but native-style display ads will grow the fastest
  • Social-native, including Facebook News Feed ads and promoted tweets on Twitter, will draw a majority of native ad revenue between 2013 and 2018
  • Native display ads, such as splashy native ads on Yahoo's news pages and apps, will see the fastest ramp-up
  • Sponsored content, such as some of the paid stories and sections on BuzzFeed and The New York Times (and Business Insider), has also attracted considerable attention
  • Native ads perform better than traditional display - particularly on mobile and
  • Consumers hold a generally positive attitude toward native advertising but advertisers and publishers must ensure that ads are relevant and are purchased by trustworthy brands to avoid the risk of any mainstream backlash

With our always-on, always-with-us devices, ad folks see new ways to engage with customers and wearables are their next chance to sell you something.


Your Ad Platform – Give a marketer a screen and he/she will see a new place to promote his/her product.  And with your always-with-you smartphones and wearables, there’s a fresh opportunity to reach, influence the consumer … even when they’re walking past a store and see something they might be interested in.

The combination of a screen (that can be tracked) always with you and super refined big data analytics means they can shoot you an ad the minute you look at something online or even walk past a store.


Don’t even worry about all of the government agencies tracking you because with a couple of billion smartphones in folks’ hands and IDC predicting that wearables will reach about 112M in 2018, marketers smell money.

Consoling them Mitch Brenner said, “You're just a poor, innocent victim of circumstance.”

Peddlers of the on-the-go ad idea cite their research and tell us native ads are less disruptive and deliver better click rate numbers and it’s only going to get better.

But even back in the ‘60s Ogilvy thought that was so much B.S., I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.”


Folks ignored him back then and not much has changed.  According to the advocates, they’re developing better engagement and attention metrics so you’ll see more ads … everywhere.


Work in Progress – Marketers are so focused on figuring out how to reach more folks and proving their value, they overlook the obvious – the value of the message to the person who receives it.  People still like advertisers that talk with them rather than at them.

Of course, a little thing like quality is still a work in progress.

Garbage is still garbage no matter where you see it or when you see it.  

As Ogilvy pointed out, “What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.

Just expect to see a lot more ads chasing you.

You and the mother in the diner will probably see all of the stuff appearing on all of your screens and scream, “I think you're the cause of all of this. I think you're evil. EVIL!”


Just remember, it’s native and it’s tailored to you.

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