Forms of Advertising: The Transition from Print to Digital
Think about a large company… let’s use Apple as an example. On a daily basis, how often are you bombarded by ads for new iPhones, Macbook Pros, and iPads? You see them in commercials on television, in ads on the side of your internet browser, in magazines and on billboards. Now that technology is so widespread, there are many new forms of advertising that weren’t available decades ago. From traditional print ads to social media, companies are using everything they can to spread the word about their products and services.
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You open up a magazine, and the first thing you see is an ad. You flip a couple pages, and you see another ad, and another, and another. Whatever magazine you are reading, whether it be about gardening or motherhood, the pages are filled with advertisements that are geared towards that particular audience. Print advertising can be anything from newspapers, to flyers, to direct mail you find in your mailbox, to flyers and newsletters. Every single week I receive an entire catalog of coupons advertising almost every store around the area I live in, for free, directly to my mailbox. Chances are you’ve been receiving print advertisements without even giving them a second glance! They’re so saturated in this day and age that many people tend to disregard them without acknowledging them, although subconsciously they are still noticed.
Have you ever heard of the Guerrilla Girls? They were a group of anonymous (due to the gorilla masks they wore) women who are widely known for their protest art – ranging from huge billboards to posters to zines. They formed to fight sexism in the art world, and have since split into separate groups. They’re notable because they’re known for their guerrilla advertising – a type of unconventional advertising that utilizes smaller budgets and a more creative approach. Think about a unique advertisement in a place that you wouldn’t ordinarily expect it; a bench made to look like a Kit Kat bar or company emblems placed on buildings like graffiti. What was once a form of advertising only used by smaller companies with smaller budgets is now being used by larger, more established companies as well.
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Broadcast advertising refers to ads that you either see or hear on television or the radio. If you’ve stopped watching cable television, there are still ads on most YouTube videos or other popular streaming websites. If you’ve stopped listening to the radio in your car, Pandora streams ads as well. However, there are still ways to avoid popular broadcast advertisements. Companies such as Netflix allow you to stream television shows and movies without ever seeing an ad, while music streaming apps such as Songza have removed ads as well. Because of this, broadcast advertising is becoming less and less popular.
Outdoor advertising encompasses any sort of advertisement that you come in contact with outside of the home or a building. While this may seem like a broad form of advertising, think billboards, park benches, and metro stops. If you’re in a big city and a large tour bus drives by, what do you see on the side of it? Chances are, you’ll see an ad. If you’re sitting at a bus stop and you look at the side of the shelter, yep, there will be an ad there as well. Driving down highways we are bombarded with huge billboards, and we can hardly sit on a bench without sitting right on top of another ad. Companies have found ways to turn almost anything into a space for advertisements.
Public Service Advertising
This type of advertising can fit into many of the above categories, but it is separated by one distinct idea: every public service advertisement aims to inform the public about a specific issue rather than sell a particular product or service. Chances are you’ve come across public services ads for obesity, smoking, gambling, safe sex, alcoholism, the importance of education or the importance of regular fitness. These types of advertisements can be seen in magazines, heard on the radio, seen on TV, on billboards and on park benches. In some cases, public service advertisements can be seen in a negative light as a form of propaganda – in the sense that they are sometimes trying to ‘scare’ the public into behaving in a particular way or adapting a particular way of life.
Have you ever watched an episode of Family Guy? There’s one episode where Peter is at the Drunken Clam, takes a sip of a Red Bull, and all of the sudden starts singing and dancing and then breaks into his house speaking 1000 words per minute. “So I had a few Red Bulls, drove to New York, what’s the big deal?” he asks. This is a blatant example of product placement. Companies pay to have their product shown in popular movies or television shows. Product placement may not always be this obvious; many times when you’re watching a movie you’ll see that all the characters are drinking Coke products or using Apple computers or wearing Adidas sneakers, yet they don’t explicitly point out this fact.
People are glued to their cell phones these days. The next time you go out to dinner, make it a point to look around you and see how many people are staring at their phone rather than engaged in conversation. It’s astonishing, really. The next time you walk into your local mall or supermarket, take note of how many advertisements you see that feature QR codes – a barcode consisting of squares instead of lines. You can scan these codes with your smart phone, and your phone will instantly give you more information about the advertised product or service. Companies have almost turned this into a sort of game, making consumers wonder what they’ll learn if they scan the code. Smart phone interaction is not the only form of mobile advertising; many free apps are loaded with ads that you have to sift through before getting to the actual application.
Let me preface this with a short story: I was using my smart phone one day to look up a particular product on Ebay. Three days later, I was checking my Facebook on my computer, when ad ad for the exact same product I was looking at on Ebay popped up on my news feed. I was using two separate devices, and yet the internet knew exactly who I was and what I had been looking at on each device. Terrifying? Very.
This is the future of advertising. Ads are truly all over the internet, there’s no getting away from them. Sometimes they aren’t even related to anything you are doing; while doing a bit of research for this article, I had advertisements for cans of paint staring at me the entire time. This is how they get you. You’re sitting on your computer, minding your own business, then all of the sudden you think “Oh yeah! I have been meaning to re-paint my living room!” Voila, they have a new customer.
- Social Media: Most companies have a Facebook, a Twitter, an Instagram, you name it. They use social media to offer coupons, promote new products, and spread the world. Because images and messages can be so easily ‘shared’ through these applications, they essentially get the public to spread the word for them.
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization is a form of inbound marketing; it allows companies to bring in customers without ever having to send out a flyer or email. By determining what keywords potential customers use to search for a particular product or service, companies can use these keywords in their website – therefore increasing their chances of appearing higher in search engine results.
- Google AdSense: Google AdSense is a program that targets advertisements to a particular website and audience. If you run a health food company or blog, you could use Google AdSense to insert advertisements for weight loss programs or organic foods. Since the advertisements are targeted to your audience already, there is a higher chance that your viewers will click on these ads.
- Banner Ads: These are the type of internet advertisements that you are probably most familiar with, and the ones that I have briefly mentioned above. Whenever you’re looking at a webpage, chances are there is a horizontal banner ad at the top of the page, a vertical banner ad at the side of the page, or a square advertisement in the middle of the page. These advertisements can be anything from products relating to what you’re searching for, products relating to what you have searched for in the past, or simply random advertisements.
While print advertising certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, more and more companies are looking towards digital advertising for faster, easier, more efficient ways of gaining more customers. If you’re ready to take the plunge, learn everything you can about the perks of internet advertising here!
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