In a world that is changing as fast as ours, where everyday technology makes real the stuff of adventure comics fifty years ago, we can only wonder at what lies ahead.
Those of us who marvelled at the ‘communicators’ of Star Trek, those little flip top devices that meant you could talk to anyone anywhere, probably have one of the old flip-top mobile phones in a box somewhere. The skies are full of drones piloted by people sitting thousands of miles away, reminiscent of the forces of General Gizmo, and the bionic scanners of the Terminator are surely just an app or two away with the arrival of the Google Glass.
But although it would take a very brave futurist to say that any technology is impossible, the restraining factor is, of course, the rather more slowly evolving human race itself. As far as advertising is concerned, it rather comes down to what the whacky chaps in the Royal Air Force used to refer to as the Mk 1 Eyeball; which, to be honest, hasn’t changed nearly as much as the stuff it looks at.
If we go back to our Star Trek inspired mobile for a moment, today’s ‘communicator’ does things that would make even Captain Kirk and Mr Spock gasp in incredulous wonderment. The smartphone is becoming (has become?) the very centre of our lives; our relationships are more digital than physical, our entertainment is on tap on the move, and even the one over-riding fear, that we might physically lose our phone and thus our virtual life, has been negated by ‘the cloud’ where we can store ourselves out of risk.
So, what has all of this got to do with native advertising, the exciting in-content advertising that is so rapidly making its mark? It comes back to the Mk 1 Eyeball and the size of the mobile screen. Banner ads really don’t work at many levels now but at the sub-laptop level they don’t physically work at all; and the more you make them flash, jump about or leap out of nowhere, the more you irritate the market you are trying to engage. Mobile needs native advertising.
Because native content sits as unobtrusively as possible within and alongside the published content, offering itself as an extension to, or a practical application of, the matters that have attracted the reader; there is none of the eye-straining conflict of ads trying to get noticed, like two year olds in a super-market.
The latest iPhone 6s are probably confirming that smartphones have gone as small as they can for comfortable vision, and the larger option suggests a bounce back to squint free viewing. But mobile, comfortably mobile, will be the certainty for the next few years; in other words, pocket sized and no more will be the upward constraint.
Native advertising and mobile communications are perfect partners; native offers comfortable communication while good native content is the bonus extra to editorial rather than, in the way of traditional advertising, the price of accessing it.