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EXPLAINED: Infographics, Memes, Native Advertising, and Content Marketing
By: Brian Keller
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Christopher Scheiner was a geometer, physicist, and astronomer who lived between 1575 and 1650. One of his gifts to man was his depiction of the rotation of the sun, via illustrations and text, in the book Rosa Ursina sive Sol. However, Scheiner’s contribution was far greater, according to Forbes and Drew Hendricks (October 10, 2013). Scheiner came up with the first infographic:

“Illustrations that combine both information and graphics to convey information, visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly date back to the 1600s, when an infographic depicting the rotation of the sun appeared in the book Rosa Ursina sive Sol.” Now, infographics are rapidly spread across the Internet.
Scheiner should have waited a few years and used a meme (think Alfred E. Neuman, 19th century, and Kilroy, 20th century). Memes are (unlike infographics) “a humorous element of a culture or system of behavior and information passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means via an image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Memes can be turned into ads and can expand your media.

Fiat’s T 500c (GIF) Endless Fun ended up in the USA and on TV, OMG. It may have been impossible to create this miracle with an infographic, as the two forms of communication are so different. Infographics have graphics as opposed to images, are not humorous, and probably can’t be made into ads.

It seems that the meme is more elastic, even though it may not have graphics and may not, as infographics do, “improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system's ability to see patterns and trends.”


According to Ad Freak, infographics are good with Millennials. This is very important because we need to reach this valuable demographic. All we really know about this powerful group of people is that most of them live in their mom’s basement and spend a lot of time editing memes. The proper use of infographics will be key to the futures of Mountain Dew, Aeropostale, Kraft, Kellogg’s, LG, Hershey, and more.

Anyway, in the articleInfographic: What Millennials Want From Native Ad Content: U.K. survey finds 57% are OK with sponsored articles” we find that infographics are OK’d by Millenials and are part of native advertising, which in turn is: “a type of advertising, usually online but feasibly elsewhere, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.” Or, “Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.”

These definitions clear things up as to why infographics and native advertising are so important together as key pieces in the understanding and employment of native advertising and content marketing. This article could be bad for memes and TV — sorry Fiat. The article goes on to say that: “With more marketers putting their eggs in the native advertising basket, it's always good to hear that the tactic (infographics) might actually be working.” Christopher Scheiner strikes from the grave.

Joe Pulizzi says (August 26, 2015 from the Content Marketing Institute: “When you see the phrase “native advertising,” what do you think? Do you think of content marketing? We find that too many marketers and agency executives erroneously use content marketing and native advertising interchangeably. When that happens, our industry takes a step backward, as native advertising is simply one way marketers can distribute content.” 

This leads us to believe that there is no way content can be spread by content marketing. Please be advised that when you “natively advertise,” don’t use the term content marketing, because content marketing is vastly different than native advertising, as proven by its definition: “Content marketing is the business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Native advertising does not want profitable customer action, it needs content to distribute one way, so just create your content and be quiet.

In any event, content marketing and native advertising have made sure that most traditional forms of advertising have no content. What this means to advertisers and agencies is that you can only provide content when you participate in content marketing or make content for native advertising.

Here’s the loophole. We suggest recasting all of your creative executions as infographics or memes. If you create memes, you can repurpose them (Fiat). If you construct infographics, you probably can’t create ads, but you may still be able to participate in native advertising. So, in one form or the other, you can now create content that is different and may have more uses.

When you are creating your content to turn into other content, think about the content you create before you create it and its impact on your demographic. Account people and creatives think about media directors, who can now probably use memes and infographics. From the Millennial “gaming” and mooching off his/her mom to the boomer at Denny’s ranting about everything and taking food pictures for Facebook to the Gen Xers who are probably home watching Clerks, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club, we can reach our demo where he/she lives (literally). Use this power well.

Although all of this makes our business more elastic and thoughtful, be careful not to call native advertising content marketing when it’s native advertising and not content marketing, as you could lose a client. Thanks, Christopher Scheiner.

Christopher Scheiner made a good infographic. It was a good idea. The research that was done for this overbearingly obtuse ode to “content” saw not a word about a good idea. So hope it's not another 360 years or so ’til we get another. The good news is that HBO is making the slideshare of this article into a series.

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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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