Why Social Media is Already the Future of Advertising

It’s called the ‘good old days’ more because they’re old than necessarily good. Of course, banner ads and the fifteen or thirty-second commercials that play before a YouTube video had their start in newspapers and on television, but when it comes to getting your brand out there and into the consciousness of potential customers, things are changing at a rapid pace. 

Advertising itself was not meant to be subtle, even if psychologists would recommend certain colours or shapes to use because it would attract people on a subconscious level. Usually putting an attractive model beside your product was enough to get people to do a double-take and consider buying some vodka or get their car turned up.

However, public posters and newspapers ads were out there screaming at random people, and the retention rate wasn’t that high. Today, targeted advertising makes it possible to broadcast your brand (whether it is still car tune-ups, or even trans sugar baby dating services), to the exact audience who would be most receptive to it.

They Know What You Post

Since few people read the terms of agreement when they set up an account on Facebook, Google, Amazon, or any of the other big internet giants, they usually ignore the fact that everything you post – messages, links, photos – is scrutinized by software and shared around with big marketing firms.

While clearing your browser history seems like you’re covering your tracks, every site you visit that mentions cookies ain’t talking about baked goods. A small bit of software is downloaded onto your computer when you visit that website and transmits some of the websites you visit afterwards. This creates a series of footprints that make up ‘your internet self’, and marketing companies use that information to their advantage.

If you just bought some cardboard boxes online, don’t be surprised if the ads you see right after are pushing moving companies. There are hidden networks that make assumptions that if you are looking for product A, you probably also want product B soon enough. While many people might decry their government watching what they do online (whether it’s shooting your mouth off on a message board or visiting a squirt gay site), they seem to have no problem with giant corporations doing this in order to sell more products.

With all this in mind, knowing exactly how to take advantage of this system in regards to your own product or service (even if it’s just a matter of trying to draw views and clicks to your website). Google pushes its analytics as a service you can use to help guide people to your website, because if your business overlaps with another, then it stands to reason that people might end up buying both.

The Influencer’s Influence

Celebrity endorsement is also an old advertising technique, but just as the internet has changed the nature of celebrity, so has it changed how well-known people hawk products. Certainly, there will be products that movie or reality tv stars might push in conventional ads, but now they might do so on their Twitter or Instagram pages, perhaps showing themselves using the product, or even just holding it in their hands.

Ideally, it would be something overflowing with synergy, so a model would push fashion products, and a well-known video game streamer would endorse a high-end gaming chair. This is the best form of targeted advertising because it already stars someone the audience knows and trusts, and thanks to the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), everyone can’t help but want to get in on the Group Fun.

When it comes to getting an influencer to make a few posts endorsing your product, it obviously makes sense to find someone who might actually use it, but you can also get creative. Clothing or artistic items are perfect for someone who is fashion conscious, but even slightly ‘duller’ items like cooking utensils or car accessories can be promoted by people who are known for their baking or for talking up cars to a wide audience.

The big issue might just be how much money you want to spend, as the more popular an influencer is, the less likely they will accept ‘just’ a free copy as payment.

It’s Called Show ‘Business’

The idea of skipping ads in the past used to involve you having to leave the room, or flipping to a different channel. Now, most (but not all) free video streaming sites allow you to skip most (but not all) ads after five or so seconds. If you click ‘skip ads’, that is just another bit of information about you that the big video site now knows, even though the only takeaway is that nobody likes ads.

So the new way around that is to make a film with advertised products buried deep within it. There will not be an actor smiling at the camera, holding up the candy bar for all to see. Instead, it is a short film, maybe up to ten minutes long, with an actual plot and characters that you are meant to relate to.

Although at the same time, it is completely bankrolled by a company in order for the viewer to maybe – just maybe – consider buying that particular beer brand when the credits finally roll. A shot of the product might be cleverly subtle, with only one camera angle clearly showing the name of it as a character picks it up. This long-form of artistic advertising has become a genre all by itself.

If the short film itself is well-received, it might go viral, which could be the best sort of promotion you can ever hope for a product (and some of the influencers mentioned above might happen to re-tweet it because it’s so popular, which just helps even more). The problem is that this can be quite expensive, as suddenly you’re not just buying banner ads, but bankrolling a short film.

Tom Hyatt
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Written by Tom Hyatt

A consultant with 30 years experience in the business. Tom is an advisor to many high profile clients and has helped many big name businesses become the companies they are today. A father of two and doting dad to his Alsatian, Tom knows that getting the balance between family and business is paramount to success.