Advertising in a hyper digital world


The world of advertising looks quite different today than it did in Don Draper’s Madison Avenue domain. Where there was a captive audience around the TV set, we now fast forward past commercials on DVR. Where radio was the only way of hearing new music, we now buy premium Spotify and Pandora subscriptions so we don’t have to hear ads. Where we used to trust the messaging from corporations (hello Cigarettes and Wonder bread!), we now don’t trust sponsored content.

So what’s a modern day company to do? The answer is pretty simply, adapt along with your customers. Out of necessity, advertising is moving away from its traditional silo towards more interactive content that becomes a natural part of the sales cycle.

Let’s talk about three strategies you can implement to get your message heard:

1. Don’t make the message – be the message

Consumers are overall pretty savvy to marketing tactics. They don’t want to be talked down to or feel like they’re getting bombarded with a canned slogan. However, if a brand can position itself as trustworthy, quality, and knowledgeable, the consumer will listen to what they have to say. A great example of this is Whole Foods, who has made efforts to establish itself as not only a grocery store, but a lifestyle choice for those who value healthy and environmentally friendly food.

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They share recipes on their website, discuss special diets, and provide an easy way to search for the products they carry. The entire website is interactive and informative, and the actual advertising of their stores and products feels very secondary. We trust that they share our same interests, so we shop there. No gimmicky message needed.

2. Adapt, adapt, adapt.

Whether you’re on Snapchat all day or are still boycotting Facebook, the truth is that social media is massive and can’t be ignored. In 2016, a whopping 78% of Americans had a social media account. It’s no secret that print publications have suffered with the explosion of the internet and mobile options, and the New York Times devised an interesting solution. They now offer nytvr: an immersive virtual-reality experience for the news.


Along with their app and the $7 purchase of a cardboard viewer, you can have a 360 video experience that puts you in the middle of the story. The NYT sent one of these cardboard viewers to their paper subscribers, and Twitter blew up with amazed reviews. The buzz created by social media about their new offering was worth more than any traditional paid advertising the Times could have employed. It’s important to note that the NYT used traditional (newspaper) advertising, a give-away, and social media all in concert to create excitement about their product. Social media isn’t a strategy on its own, rather a channel of the comprehensive strategy.

3. Target the right people in the right way

We’re tired of disruptive and jarring pop-up ads, banners, and flashing content. If an ad is annoying, it’s completely counterproductive. It’s much more effective if the message is relevant and seamlessly blends in with the customer’s browsing. The message becomes much easier to digest when it’s effectively targeted for a specific user. The key here is excellent market analytics and customer insight so you can drive your content and engagement to speak directly to the viewer. If a consumer is reading an article about baseball, a well-designed ad for their local minor league team’s upcoming game promotion becomes almost an extension of the article in their mind. Eye-catching design with quality content that is targeted at the individual makes the message palatable and interesting. Then you’re only a click away from your next customer.

It may seem daunting to navigate the many channels now available for Marketing along with the changing habits of consumers, but using these key principles can help guide you: an authentic message presented to the right target, in a relevant manner.