Advertising: Then & Now

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As long as there have been buyers and sellers of goods, there has been advertising and marketing — even if the activity wasn’t known by that name. In the past, this may have looked dramatically different than today’s algorithms and social media posts, but the core tenets of advertising still exist. There’s still a fundamental need to connect buyers and sellers and for sellers to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

In today’s fast-paced world of always-on advertising, it can be challenging for sellers to connect directly to their potential customers. Distractions are everywhere, and with the average attention span ranging from 8-12 seconds, it’s increasingly difficult to ensure that your core audience has knowledge of and experience with your brand.

Enter: advertising

Core Advertising Tenets Haven’t Changed

As early as the 1700s, there were already newspaper advertisements aimed directly at readers that might be interested in the goods and services that were being promoted. Brands would tout their core values and distinct selling features in these primitive ads, and customers responded. Print is still an incredibly valuable medium in advertising, with customers of all ages enjoying the haptic interaction. However, it wasn’t until the 1900s that advertising evolved to become more personal and, in turn, create deeper brand engagement.

The Evolution of Market Research

Marketers are familiar with Gallup polls, but did you realize that these methods of determining public opinion have been in use for over 75 years? Gallup polls were started as a bipartisan, scientific method of determining Americans’ preferences, and the collected data is still incredibly valuable today. This data is used to examine if there are differences in interest in brands and specific traits of products or services across demographic groups, including age, gender, income, and more.

With this information in hand, brands are better able to refine their product offerings by dialing into details that most appeal to their core audience. This immediate feedback allows brands to quickly evolve to meet the demands of buyers. With the full circle of brand engagement, not only are companies able to increase sales, but products meet more closely with the needs and expectations of buyers.

Bringing Personalization Into the Marketing Mix

In the golden days of advertising in the early 1900s, personalization became much more prevalent. Instead of creating a generic message that was meant to appeal to the masses, brands were able to create more targeted campaigns. These campaigns were based on the demographics and psychographics of the most likely buyers of the product or service. The ability to reach a smaller core audience that was engaged with the brand, product, or service allowed for more specific messaging to be developed, which was the early stages of personalization.

Today’s personalization looks radically different than the early days. Brand marketers can define distinct messages meant to reach a unique subsegment of their market, offering only the products or services that are likely to appeal to that particular group. New mothers, for example, are often targeted by major brands in this way, with personalized mailed coupons, display ads, and social media ads for baby products. Brands are cued into the expecting parent by online searches made by the prospect and purchase histories that are tied into customer loyalty programs. Mining this data offers a wealth of knowledge that would have been difficult to gain without advanced digital marketing methods. At L7 Advertising, we call this “Walled Gardens,” and we discuss this on our Adapt and Thrive: A Survival Guide for the Modern Marketer podcast if you’re interested in learning more about this technique.

The Rise of Mobile Marketing and Engagement

With more than 85% of American adults owning a smartphone, mobile engagement is now one of the most critical aspects of digital advertising. The dramatic rise in cell phone and smartphone usage allows brands even greater opportunities for advertising products and services to their most valuable prospects. Initially, digital advertising was very basic, and the same ad formats were often developed for both websites and mobile devices. This could lead to a negative user experience, making it more challenging for readers to engage directly with brands in a way that felt meaningful and organic.

Today’s digital advertising has evolved dramatically, with the same type of information and call to action contained in slightly different formats that are optimized for the specific delivery medium. This could mean reducing the overall size of images in mobile ads to reduce pixelation or increasing the words used from a display ad to a social ad headline. Understanding the ideal mix of words and pictures — as well as appropriately sizing ads to fit the technology platform — is both an art and a science that often requires rounds of iteration and testing to complete.

Creating an Environment of Trust in Digital Advertising

It is all too easy for consumers to simply “turn off” digital advertising, which is why brands need to foster an environment of trust in their prospects and customers. If brands are too invasive with their advertising, customers are likely to include ad blockers and quickly escape from the digital clutches of brands that are trying too hard to capture their attention. Conversely, brands that deliver value back to readers in the way of education or other value-added resources are the ones that will engage the eyes (and the wallets!) of their customers.

This often comes in the form of content marketing, with brands competing for keywords and answering the most burning questions that their readers have expressed. Teaching customers how to use your products and additional uses for items that may be unexpected or fascinating is one surefire digital marketing tactic that will work if you’re able to target the correct audience for your message.

Bring Together the Best of old-school Advertising With Today’s Engagement Methods

The most successful brands can stitch together the broad scope of older advertising methods with the micro-targeting and personalization that are available in today’s digital marketing tools. This often requires sophisticated platforms and services that can be difficult to find in traditional small to midsize businesses, making it more important than ever for these companies to find the right partner. See how L7 Advertising can help you sort through the various digital advertising options to find the platforms and strategies that will be most valuable for your brand. Contact us today at 760-237-0810 to schedule your complimentary consultation and see how digital advertising can add value, improve customer retention and drive increased sales for your brand.

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