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The Real Ello Takeaway for Communicators

Everyone is talking about Ello, pros and cons right now. Whether or not Ello succeeds is probably inconsequential in the near term. The real takeaway for communicators? A growing population of people want content that’s ad free and won’t overtly sacrifice their privacy.

You can say what you want about the positioning and Ello’s success in meeting it. The droves of people giving the network a shot show a clear desire for this type of ad-free social networking.

In fact, you can assume that a certain percentage of people don’t want to be intrusions in every medium. Eventually, people get fed up with traditional and other forms of intrusive paid ads.

That means owning quality ad-free owned content becomes more valuable over time. Before we dive into this, let us illustrate theory in a different medium; video programming.

Video Models

Ello for PR - No Advertising

Many people want to see video programs and don’t care about ads. They will tolerate the intrusion in exchange for free content, much like social networkers tolerate Facebook and Twitter ads.

Others really don’t want TV ads. Some video content solutions have achieved a cash-positive ad-free, privacy sensitive equilibrium, too.

For example, if you don’t want ads during your TV program, you can watch them the next day via download for a fee. Or if you don’t want to pay higher fees, you can wait for Netflix to see programs. These services have varying levels of privacy. The more you pay, the more private you are.

Paid movie services like HBO and Showtime have been around for decades. They offer the same level of private paid access that you would expect from a premium TV download services.

The Content/App Opportunity

Ello for PR - NorthFace App

Ello and paid-TV viewing shows brands that people value an ad-free, non promotional content or service. We know people appreciate this, and in most cases, they are simply tolerating advertising.

Owned content and apps represent an opportunity to build good will with customers. Provide quality content or app as a service, a simple courtesy for existing and or potential customers. You could even track how many customers use the service, and thus gage its value without using the content mechanism to push products and services.

The question really is how brands have the stomach to not use their content or app as a means to consistently upsell?

For every Red Bull web site, North Face app or LEGO Community we see hundreds of imitators. They fail to provide the same value or use their value to constantly promote services. Or if you don’t want to own content, how about simply sponsoring someone else’s content so it is ad-free?

Open content versus solicitations brings trade-offs for brands. You can opt for simple goodwill versus ROI. You can build traffic versus seeking smaller qualified audiences willing to stomach conversion attempts. Sophisticated (and well-funded) brands tend to offer a diverse group of free and premium content types.

A Nationals Example

Ello for PR - Nats Plus

I am a Nationals partial season ticket holder. At first I thought fan events were cool, but I quickly became amazed at how every little courtesy turns into an upsell. It’s become a turn off to the point that I see every Nationals email as a solicitation.

For example, I could have watched Game 3 of the NLDS last night at Nationals Park. However, I needed to sit through a sales prevention on Nationals Plus membership first. No, thank you.

In a winning season, it is clear the team sees ROI as more important than goodwill. I wonder how these efforts would fare if the team was not competitive. They might need to change their approach to freemium events.

Ello or Goodbye

Ello for PR - Manifesto

Ello shows that free and unobtrusive content is important for good will between brands and customers. An opportunity exists to stand out by offering great content and apps for free to important stakeholder groups.

It’s clear that smart brands will include owned content as part of their PR efforts. Otherwise, every time they offer content, a percentage of their potential customers will say goodbye.

What do you think?

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Tags : Social Media

About Geoff Livingston

Geoff is president and founder of Tenacity5 Media, a digital marketing agency that provides content marketing and social media services. A former journalist, Geoff continues to write, and has authored five books. Follow him @geoffliving.

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