The Second “Golden Age” of Advertising

A little while ago, I wrote a post about Saturday Night Live reducing their commercial time in favor of sponsored content. It’s the first mainstream television program to experiment with this approach, but TV almost doesn’t have a choice but to try it. Consumers have the option to change the channel, watch commercial-less content on Netflix, or just play with their phones during a commercial break.


TV has been trying to fight against this change in consumption for years. You may have noticed, lots of TV shows have split their format to individual, stand-alone clips that are tailored for social sharing. For example, you may have noticed how The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is split into segments like “Kids Stand Up with Seth Rogen”, “Mind Readers with Fred Armisen”, or the classic “Mean Tweets” on Jimmy Kimmel. These kinds of bite-size clips take over your Facebook feed the next morning, because they are made to be shared.



National Geographic will be introducing the first-ever Instagram mini-series later this Summer. You might imagine this kind of thing being more relevant on Netflix, but it will be interesting to see how followers react to a mini-series on the social platform. It’s another perfect example of content made for sharing. Brands and other TV Networks will likely follow suit if it’s successful.


Successful video content, sponsored or unsponsored, is usually a combination of something that is easy to watch (something you can watch when you want, where you want), entertaining, and authentic. Content marketing in general thrives on creativity and authenticity, because people respond more positively to these traits than stale advertisements.



In the Golden Age of advertising during the 1960’s, the Don Draper’s of the industry crafted beautiful, witty advertisements that hit on consumer’s emotions. Some of the advertisements created then are considered art pieces now, and I’m sure some of your ad-nerd friends have hung them up in their homes.


Today, it’s essentially mandatory for brands to have a presence online, whether it be through social accounts, sponsored content, or display advertisements.


I doubt you’ve ever seen a display advertisement you wanted to hang on your bedroom wall. Have you ever paused your web activity because you saw a banner advertisement that made you feel something?


Today, the marketing industry is coming up with ways to connect on a more personal level with consumers through creative sponsored content online. What about display advertising?


Display advertising is annoying. No one likes to go to a website and have to wait five seconds for an ad overlay to disappear. You’ll probably look away for the 5 seconds, and click the “x” button the first chance you get. Display advertising is a nuisance,and does not fit into consumer’s day-to-day in a positive way.


Content marketing, think BuzzFeed, is advertising that fits seamlessly into a web-surfer’s activities. It informs, relates, and entertains; just like sponsored content on SNL next Fall will aim to do. Content marketing thrives on creativity that display advertisement cannot.


It seems like content marketing is slowly making it’s way into every medium of advertising…through sponsored content in the New York Times, sponsored content on every mainstream social media platform, and even beginning to take over commercial time on TV. Brands have come to understand that successful advertising makes the viewer feel something, and doesn’t aim for the hard sell.


This shift from traditional advertising, to content marketing doesn’t only show a change in the way people consume media, but it also presents the opportunity for the second “Golden Age” of advertising. The advertising industry is experiencing a shift from in-your-face, hard sell advertising, to consumer-centric, empathetic content that requires true artistry.



Maybe five years from now, we’ll have a display-ad-less internet.