Content, meet context: native goes physical

Snapchat World Lenses

Today’s current state of online advertising sees a massive decline in consumer brand trust. From fake news sites, to adblocking, to the fact that around half of online traffic comes from bots - it’s not surprising that consumer tolerance for digital ads is running low. While the industry faces the consequences of the past decade of online innovations, the opportunity to innovate in the physical space is ripe for disruption.

The most successful digital media companies don’t have advertising at the core of their mission. Instead they focus on delivering experiences that consumers value, such as discovery, shopping, or social connections. And advertising that is seamlessly integrated into those experiences just works better -- there’s more data, higher relevance, and more impact. That’s why native is the fastest growing advertising segment, predicted to make up nearly three quarters of online market share by 2021. Brands, publishers, and consumers are all embracing it for the same reason— native offers utility and value.

Combining the opportunities of moving from digital to physical experiences with the demand for native content, gives rise to a powerful new force: Physical Native.

But what does native look like in the physical world, and how can brands begin to harness that power? If native in digital is a promoted tweet in your newsfeed or a sponsored post on a website you visit, Physical Native is a brand integrating into your real-world experience—your journey through a city, current weather and traffic conditions, the stores and restaurants you visit, and nearby attractions. From discounts to discovery to entertainment, native can help optimize your life.

Let’s say a train goes down, disrupting commutes for subway riders. A digital display underground can show real-time transit information pertaining to the delay, but also trigger adjacent content offering a discount on a ride from Uber. If overcrowding is causing backups or unsafe conditions, imagine dynamic content from a beer brand above an entrance luring riders off the system temporarily: “Subway’s packed. Grab a beer around the corner.”

The opportunities for brands to meaningfully enter consumers’ daily lives via digital signage and mobile integration are endless. A musical history of your city sponsored by Spotify. A guide to seasonal produce by Whole Foods. Branded Lenses integrated with augmented reality technology. Or even poop emojis that are triggered to appear when it’s raining outside. As brands begin facilitating moments that help consumers discover their surroundings, save money, or connect with people, they will forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with consumers than was ever possible online.

But, just like advertisers rely on and demand measurement in digital, reliable and comparable measurement is imperative to shifting budgets into the physical world. From store visits to point-of-sale purchases, offline measurement is beginning to emerge, but new tech on the horizon promises a huge leap forward in the ability to show performance in out-of-home campaigns.

Digital, addressable, and interactive displays are proliferating at a rapid pace in cities, both above and below ground. By tapping into Physical Native, we have an incredible opportunity to forever change people’s experiences in public spaces. When digital displays are programmed with useful information at the right time and right place, people will be trained to look up from their mobile devices — maybe for the first time in a long time.

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs

Dave Etherington

Dave Etherington is chief strategy officer at Intersection.

All by Dave