When social media new-kid-on-the-block Ello launched in August, people went crazy over it. The network, which is still invite-only, was receiving over 600,000 invite requests per day as people clamored to get onto the site. With Facebook already wobbling in popularity, Ello seemed to have something that other social networks didn’t. What was it that made Ello so immediately popular? Simple: Ello is advertiser-free.
“Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold,” says the Ello Manifesto. “Your social network is owned by advertisers.”
It seems like a slight directed toward Facebook. Social media turnover is inevitable—remember MySpace?—but this time, it’s not just that Facebook isn’t “cool” anymore. It’s that people don’t want advertisers in their faces anymore.
Facebook, to be fair, runs rampant with banner ads, paid promotions, and suggested brands to “like.” The relationship between the site and its advertisers is a mutually beneficial one: Facebook makes tons of money by selling ad space, and advertisers get prime real estate on the social network. But that relationship has left out the users/consumers, who are clearly frustrated with the clutter and constant noise of advertisements on the site.
Ello plans to monetize the site by offering upgraded features that users can buy, sort of like buying apps from the app store and adding them to your iPhone. It’s unclear whether or not that will generate enough revenue to keep the site afloat, but no matter what happens, Ello has promised to never, ever sell advertisements.
Advertisement Free: The Future of Digital Marketing?
What does this mean for the future of digital marketing? Well, it means advertisers need to get more creative. While digital ads aren’t going anywhere (they may have disappeared from Ello, but they’re still alive and well elsewhere) the emergence of ad-free networks means that consumers are getting annoyed with flashy, obvious advertising. Ello could signal an era where creative, native advertisements trump everything else. The more you blend in, the better your business will do.
For instance, your business can still set up an Ello page and include the same kinds of marketing efforts that you’d apply on a Facebook business page: announcing company updates, offering promotions, and interacting with the consumer base. The idea is to make it seem like your company is a cool, relatable brand rather than a stand-alone advertisement screaming, “Buy me! Buy me!”
It’s time to think about your company as a lifestyle, rather than just a simple buying-and-selling transaction. The masses leaving Facebook to join Ello should tell you something: It’s time to meet consumers on their own turf.