One of the most entertaining speakers at Collision this year was The Onion's Chief Creative Officer, Rick Hamann. Having worked at world-class advertising agencies such as J Walter Thompson and Energy BBDO, and now on the publishing side with The Onion, Mr. Hamann understands the changing landscape of the advertising industry and just how difficult it is for companies to compete.

I caught up with Mr. Hamann and spoke to him about his views on today's advertising trends. You can watch our full interview on YouTube.

Interruption Advertising Is Not Effective
Rick Hamann has a unique perspective having started his career in the traditional advertising industry. "When I grew up, you would spend 18 months creating a commercial and then you would beat your audience over the head with it until they were under submission," explains Mr. Hamann. "And now because of ad blocking and DVR skipping, are audiences have the ability to reject advertising wholesale."

"This is creating a lot more pressure on content and putting a lot more pressure on creating things that people actually want to watch," Mr. Hamann explains.

We are all fighting for the attention of consumers. Companies that maintain an interruption-based, broadcast-focused mentality are going to struggle. While these kinds of commercial advertising platforms drove the essence of the industry since the days of AMC's award-winning series Mad Men, today you simply can't beat your audience into submission--be that television commercials or remarketing with banner advertising.

Content Marketing as Viable Alterative to Interruption Advertising
"On the publishing side, we are so committed to our audience, that we want to not only make things they won't reject, but also we can see from the agency side that there's an increasing desire to actually reach people in a way that is delightful and engaging and inescapable from a quality standpoint" says Mr. Hamann.

This makes sense and explains the rise of native adverting and content marketing. During the same panel discussion with The Onion's Mr. Hamann at Collision, The Daily Beast acknowledged that 90% of The Daily Beast's advertiser revenue comes from Content Marketing, not banners.

"Imagine looking at something you actually want to see that happens to be brought to you by a brand or has a brand eloquently integrated rather than to have something thrust upon you that is unavoidable," Mr. Hamann explains. "Now that advertising is avoidable, we have to be a lot smarter with how to reach people."

Aligning Advertising Messaging with Content Themes
It's not always about a hard sell, either. Often times what's most effective for an advertiser is the brand association, rather than attempting to shift the focus onto yourself from content a person actually wants to consume.

"With every advertising message we make, we build a plan that has different touch points as far as how much a brand is going to be involved," says Mr. Hamann. "For instance, we may create an editorial that has very little mention of a brand advertiser, but is aligned with a brand advertiser's message or a theme from that advertiser. And that draws our audience in. Within that world, we may create messaging that has a little bit more of an advertiser's hand in it but is still written with the same quality in mind as our regular editorial. That mixture of things that are purely editorial and brush up against an advertiser and [content] that has a deeper advertiser message; this combination can add up to something that's really special."

Which is why The Onion is serious about content marketing as a primary form of advertising as opposed to other forms of interruption-based advertising. The take away here is that if you are engaging your audience and drawing them in, you are more likely to be in a position to influence them with your desired adverting messaging. For more on this topic, consider these 3 exponentially better alternatives to banner advertising.

Great Content Marketing Fuels Growth
The Onion's Chief Creative Officer, Rick Hamann understands the power of content marketing. This is one of the many reasons The Onion continues to surprise and delight its audience and will continue to grow that audience for the foreseeable future. I encourage you to learn from this powerful publishing platform and find better ways to enhance your customer's experience with engaging content from your business rather than looking for new ways to interrupt them.

Published on: May 26, 2016