We talk a lot about trying to stick the toothpaste back in the tube in the digital media world — usually in terms of trying to get consumers to pay for access to our content in digital form after we have given it away for so many years. Maybe a larger issue is getting the digital advertising paste shoved back into a consumer tube that has pushed online ads away as distractions and a nuisance.

As we further develop our digital content access strategies and our mobile platform strategies, the discussion often arises of providing an “ad free environment” in exchange for getting some form of subscriber payment to access the content. This idea goes against the very fiber of many of our advertising-centric beings. Advertising as a destination, not a distraction, was the NAA ad campaign slogan awhile back, and we often talk of advertising as content.

As long as we focus on doing for our advertisers what any self-respecting consultative salesperson does when providing quality sales advice — offering our expert opinions on the best advertising and marketing approach within the given medium — we can make those statements a reality. The new mobile landscape gives us that fresh opportunity, just as we have a renewed chance to charge for our content.

Just as we have for years, we can advise our advertisers on the best approach with their marketing message within the specific medium they are looking at. If we were placing them in our sports sections, we’d suggest they skew male, perhaps with a flashy offer to catch the eye of a quick-scanning sports fan looking for the details of last night’s game. If they wanted to reach our younger, event-seeking market, we’d advise placement in the weekly events/entertainment guide. We'd suggest they use an eye-catching person in their ad, and reinforce an offer with specific information about date and time.

In this same way, when we look at mobile advertising we will need to determine the right message and approach for each mobile version. On a smartphone, within the thin banner space provided on most mobile-friendly WAP sites the offer obviously needs to be brief and easy to understand. And when possible, utilising the location based tools provided within the mobile ad environment will most likely yield an actual “a-ha” response from the consumer.

Advertising does have the opportunity to present those “a-ha” moments for consumers, but only through clever marketing approaches that truly use the medium appropriately. If you think back to advertising that sticks out in your brain, there are not that many that have made you go “a-ha,” but when they happen you actually go out of your way to share them with friends and say, “Isn’t that cool?”

We’ve got the chance to help our advertisers, even local ones, to achieve this status. We just have to force ourselves to push for those discussions and not rush to accept any standard “brand” logo message that the client sends over because we just need the sale (unless, of course, all they’re going for is branding, in which case they should not expect any direct consumer interaction with the ads at all). Let’s think long-term in this new landscape and try to help our advertisers do the same.

Through the use of mobile splash pages or connecting mobile ads to e-mail or contest entries, we can help our advertisers avoid the other dreaded advertiser mistake of forcing the consumer to jump through hoops, or sending them somewhere that backfires with what the advertiser was trying to accomplish leaving a worse taste in their mouth than a bad ad ever could.

At the Las Vegas Review-Journal, we are revisiting our mobile strategies and thinking about the environments in which our consumers will see and hopefully interact with these ads. In all cases we are thinking about the best possible utility that these kinds of ads can provide, in ways that should prove to swing the consumers (and their friends) toward these sites that have ads on them because they actually value this information. And hopefully it makes them say, “Isn’t that cool?”