Robert Rose, author of Killing Marketing

Between net neutrality repeal and looming data privacy laws, marketers must rethink their strategies by reverting to one that is tried and true—audience building.

“Paid media and advertising are fundamentally evolving,” chief content advisor for Content Marketing Institute and best-selling author Robert Rose (Killing Marketing) told AListDaily. “All the breathless deadlines about ad blockers and ad fraud are causing businesses to rethink what they’re doing from an advertising perspective.”

As world governments crack down on the use of citizens’ personal data, marketers may be inclined to worry even more—but audience building through content marketing solves a myriad of problems, Rose explained.

“If you look at all the buzz around General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a lot of people are thinking it’s horrible and that they’ll stop email marketing full stop in May because they don’t have it figured out,” he said. “It’s actually really simple to solve and content marketing and the creation of audiences is a really interesting way to solve it.”

Rose said that engaged audiences naturally want to share their information with brands they enjoy hearing from.

“Creating that permission, or the opt-in nature of what GDPR and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) are really prescribing, is actually easily solved with a marketing approach that says, ‘we’re out to create value through the creation of content that builds an audience that wants to hear from us that wants to be subscribed to what we do.’ We’ve now created a legitimate interest, what they call LI, for communicating with that customer.”

Rose believes that businesses can turn arising challenges into marketing solutions.

“I think [ad blockers, ad fraud and data privacy] provide an immensely strong business case for the creation of owned media experiences that build audiences,” said Rose. “And together, they could be the pivot point for why businesses start to take this a lot more seriously than most do.”

Don’t have time to build your own audience from the ground up? Rose predicts that more businesses will engage in acquisition strategies this year—a risky audience-building trend that seems to be paying off.

While influencer marketing is one method of acquiring an audience, current events may leave some brands—and influencers—feeling discouraged. From marooning customers on an island to filming apparent suicides, the risk of working with internet celebrities is a daunting one. Rose compared traditional celebrity endorsements with internet influencers. With an athlete, author or film star, there is usually a governing body like an agent or association that helps guide celebrity behavior. While many social media creators are now turning to agents and managers, a majority are free to do whatever they like.

“There’s nothing governing [influencer] behavior,” said Rose. “I think what you’re going to start to see is more deals get made with influencers that have structure to them and this year may be the year that it starts to happen. I [also] think you’re going to start seeing what they call ‘acqui-hires’ where those YouTubers or influencers simply get hired or get purchased with an exclusivity where [the hiring company] can provide that governance.”

As brands venture forth into the new year, Rose predicts that challenges will be faced head on through creativity.

“I think we’re going to see a move toward how businesses can get their arms around audiences and the creation of owned media experiences,” said Rose. “Whether they be blogs or television networks or shows or publishing magazines, [businesses need] to be able to reach those audiences that they’re struggling to reach through traditional advertising.”