Studying online advertising trends will give you an idea of how to position your business on the Internet in the coming years in terms of both your message and medium. Back in the 1960s, communication theorist and futurist Marshall McLuhan came up with the famous concept that the medium is the message. What this means is that how you deliver your sales and marketing message is just as important as what you say. This prescient idea could not have been more true in the age of the Internet where we see that online advertising provides not only new channels for businesses to reach consumers but has changed the very nature of how business and consumers interact.
It is not just technology and new media that are redefining sales and marketing but widespread social trends and changing attitudes that are completely rewriting how businesses and consumers interact. This article will show you some of the online advertising trends that are shaping how we do business today and that will continue to be strong catalysts of change for years to come. My hope is that by studying these trends you will be in a better position to develop a successful online marketing strategy and the right mindset to adopt new ways of reaching out to your customers. Today, having a website is the norm in business and tomorrow, having a detailed online advertising presence will be.
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Online Advertising Trends: The Death of Traditional Ads?
I have already talked about the fact that traditional advertising, while it has lost momentum over the last couple of decades, is here to stay. You are still just as likely to see a human billboard today as you would be in the 1920s, and we are still probably going to get – lots! - of junkmail in 2050. People are still going to be watching TV even as more people are going to be online. Online advertising trends show that the use of the Internet for both e-commerce as well as sales and marketing is continuing to grow as traditional advertising and consumer spending decreases in many sectors. The question is not whether older forms of advertising are going to be wiped out completely but what the new balance for the marketing mix of the future will be and what percentage of total advertising older methods will level out at.
Online Advertising Trends: Technology
Technology and digital convergence has and will continue to revolutionize how we do business. What this means for online advertising trends, among other things, is that we are going to keep coming up with newer ways to communicate our message to customers. From ads in schools, bathrooms, airports and on gas pumps to other public places, marketers continually seek new avenues of connecting with the general public and the reason is that people like learning and experiencing new things and that these ads garner enough attention to work. Look for more mobile ads and commercial messaging on everything from home appliances to fire hydrants (electronic hydrants that are part of a system of trillions of connections in our new world!).
Online Advertising Trends: Search vs. Banner
As overwhelming as the huge plethora of online advertising options may seem, they are basically broken into two categories which are search and banner advertising. The former was pioneered by search giants Google and Yahoo and allows advertisers to purchase ”clicks” by having their ads show up in the results of targeted searches focused on their specific areas of business. Banner advertising is simply displaying ads on websites and this can be done independently or through affiliate advertising networks like ClickBank or Commission Junction. Online advertising trends show that both types of advertising are growing at a healthy rate of 20-30% per year. Visit this glossary of online advertising terminology for common definitions!
Online Advertising Trends: Email Marketing
I have written extensively about email marketing and the fact that it provides an average return on investment of $42.08 for each dollar spent. As annoying as e-mail spam might seem to you, an opt-in email marketing strategy based on creating a list of your own customers and providing valuable content is a proven method of enhancing your credibility as an expert in your field as well as building lasting relationships with customer in order to generate more sales. Email marketing and other aspects of your online marketing strategy are now tied into your social media strategy as you continue to seek new ways of connecting with people. Online analytics allows you to monitor the effectiveness of various approaches and changes to your email marketing and other online programs while continuing to provide engaging and interactive online communications.
Online Advertising Trends: People Power
The individual now controls the market and organizations, for the most part, do not. As a sales and marketing professional you can no longer simply come up with a clever message or build a great product and have people flock to come and buy from you. The Internet means that people today have unlimited access to information and choices. More than ever, you need to become a fanatic about focusing on your customer and making sure that you start and finish with them in mind. Everything from your product(s) or service(s) itself to your message to your after-sale support can make or break you faster than ever in the Information Age. You not only need to worry about making sure that your customer is happy but build remarkable features into your offering and communications that people will want to tell others about.
Online Advertising Trends: Lifestyle
Sales and marketing is no longer about products or services or even customer benefits but rather the lifestyle and values that your customers aspire to. Online marketing trends show that the most successful brands are those that identify with the ideal lifestyle your customers envisage. I first came across this concept in John Sculley's amazing book Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple where Sculley was part of the executive team at Pepsi during the 1980s that clued into the power of lifestyle in order to oust Coke from the #1 spot in the soft drink industry. Rather than focus on products and taste tests, Pepsi triumphed by positioning themselves as part of an ideal lifestyle with ads that focused on hip people having fun (on a personal note, the story of Sculley being wooed by Steve Jobs to become Apple's CEO and ending up firing Jobs from Apple is a marvelous tale!).
Online Advertising Trends: Social Marketing
Just as you should be focused on people and lifestyle according to online advertising trends, sales and marketing is not just about people as individuals anymore but on people as collective social communities. I have written extensively about social media marketing and Internet viral marketing and encourage you to read some of those articles in order to better understand the power of unlimited numbers of people being connected instantaneously online. Advertising as well is now about putting on a social hat and taking off your professional one. It is about seeking to become a part of the conversation instead of controlling it. Social Marketing is not just limited to social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter but should inform our complete paradigm of engaging our customers in the twenty-first century. Think soft instead of relying on the hard selling and marketing approaches of the past!
Online Advertising Trends: Context
Contextual advertising means placing your ad within the framework of a bigger message that then becomes the vehicle for your message. Product placement in TV, video games and movies is the most real manifestation of the power of advertising within this kind of framework. People have positive associations with the larger show – or brand - which is then transferred to the advertised product or service. Similarly, search ads seek this kind of contextual relevance as does advertising provided by companies like Infolinks. In the bigger scheme of things, you must try and position your whole business contextually within the lifestyle and values of your customers and deliver your message within the context of valuable content that is interesting, entertaining and useful in and of itself.
Online Advertising Trends: Interaction
A huge part of what is powering online advertising trends is the ability for people to interact in ways never before possible. If you think about it, never before have people been able to compare products, discuss them with others, shop and receive support in real time and in the space of a few minutes without having to meet or even speak with anyone else! Not only that, business can engage customers at each step of the way through numerous channels including chat, email, forms, pop-ups, forums and a host of other online functions that make it easier than ever to connect with customers without overwhelming them with traditional sales and marketing. The Internet has give people an almost unlimited amount of information and choice and the ways and means to make intelligent buying decisions based on what they - and not you! - want.
Online Advertising Trends: Tracking and Targetting
Building on the power of online interactions is the ability to track minute details of consumer behavior online. A large reason for online advertising trends that powered search advertising to a $5 billion industry in just 5 years is the ability of advertising platforms to study exactly what consumers want and do online based on where they click and how long they spend on a given website, for example. This leads to targeted ads and the ability of companies like Google and Yahoo! to deliver high value returns on advertising spend by way of actual visitors to your website who are already interested in what you have to offer. Online analytics can be tied into your email marketing system and other online communications so that you can monitor and manage the smallest tweaks to your online message and media. Tracking, targeting and the interactive nature of online advertising are things that traditional media such as TV, print and radio ads simply cannot offer.
Online Advertising Trends: Media Fragmentation
Media fragmentation means that consumers audiences are being split up into smaller and smaller groups using increasingly more diverse communication media. What this means to you as a sales and marketing professional is that your online strategy will be more diverse and inclusive of a variety of channels in order to reach large numbers of customers based on how they choose to communicate with you. Online advertising trends toward media fragmentation also point towards increased niche marketing opportunities and the need to adopt a Long Tail Marketing approach. What is means is that you can serve ever small sub-groups of customers but at the same time you must make sure that your message is integrated, consistent and relevant across multiple channels. Figure out exactly who your customers are, what they want and how to market and sell it to them!
Online Advertising Trends: Globalization
The Global Village is now a reality and the Internet and modern business logistics makes the reach of advertising extend to practically every person on the planet (almost!). Your business may be local but more and more we are going to see the effects of globalization be it outsourcing, crowdsourcing, downsizing, updgrading or any of a number of effects of cross-cultural, transnational communication, trade and travel. It is not too soon to start thinking about the effects of our shrinking world on your business, whatever kind of market you currently serve and regardless of the size of your organization. If nothing else, we can learn a great deal from each other and as the various countries of the world continue to grow closer-knit through formal and informal ties, your next sales and marketing breakthrough may be something that is already a standard practice in some part of the world.
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