Media advertising is the delivery of promotional messages through a variety of communication vehicles. Typically the avenues used to disseminate advertising messages include broadcast, print, and online media channels.
Popular for its vast reach and visual nature, television has captured large shares of advertising dollars for decades, but change is in the air.
- Forrester reports that in 2008, and again in 2010, more than half of advertisers surveyed said that television was less profitable than the year before.
- One contributing factor to the decrease in effectiveness is the growing use of DVRs. Many consumers now fast-forward through the commercials or omit them altogether.
- The price to air a prime time 30 second commercial rose by four to 15 percent, depending on the channel. The average cost was $110,000 for a single spot.
- In 2011, television ad spending was $72 billion, according to Nielsen.
Because of its breadth, television is used for products that appeal to a broad market, like soap or shampoo. On the negative side, this medium allows for only a small to medium amount of targeting, and results may be difficult to track. Cable advertising can be better targeted and typically costs less than network television, but prices vary broadly.
Purchasing radio advertising is similar to purchasing television ads, but with a few key differences.
- Listeners identify strongly with radio personalities, and having one of them do the voiceover for an ad is akin to a celebrity endorsement.
- The strong visual element is missing.
- Markets are generally localized.
Digital radio advertising was first tracked on 2009 and has grown steadily in each successive year. Overall, radio ad revenue has dropped from $18.32 billion, in 2008, to $16.48 billion, in 2012.
Print advertising includes magazines, newspapers, the Yellow Pages, brochures, and flyers. It has been around for more than a century, and the cost is moderate compared to other media forms. Its targeting capabilities are also moderate, but results are easy to track when coupons are used.
Those print venues are a vanishing breed, however. Print advertising, which made up 20 percent of ad spending in 2006, had dropped to nine percent by 2011, according to Business Insider.
Pew Research reports that advertisers are increasingly turning to the Internet over print. Magazines and newspapers are shifting to digital, because that's where their readers are. Pew predicts that in five years the only remaining print newspapers may be the ones delivered on Sunday mornings.
A great direct mail package starts with a great list. The more information you have about consumer buying habits, the better you can segment your audience and target your message. This makes direct mail ideal for cross-selling or up-selling to existing customers.
- Including coupons or codes in your content, or providing a dedicated phone line for recipients to call, gives you the opportunity to track your results with reasonable accuracy.
- Be sure to include a clear offer within your direct mail package, and design your call to action so that it draws the eye of the reader.
- Put the bulk of your design efforts into the envelope. You may have the best content ever, but if the envelope doesn't get opened, it's worthless.
Advertisers continue to invest heavily in direct mail, because consumers want them to. Across most subject matter, direct mail is still consumers' preferred method of contact. The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) reports that $53.1 billion was spent on direct mail in 2006. In 2012 that number decreased to $50.1 billion, but is expected to rise to $57.6 by 2016.
Placing signs in high traffic areas, like billboards, or on grocery carts or shopping bags, helps to promote brand awareness. While consumers probably won't see your sign and rush out to buy your product, they are likely to form impressions, which will later influence their buying decisions.
Another type of signage is onsite. This is the sign that is outside your place of business, enticing shoppers to come inside. In this video, Signtronix reports that 45 percent of people entering a retail establishment do so because of the sign.
Sponsorships are also a form of signage. Large companies might build, or pay to have their name put on, large venues like the Staples Center. Small local companies might sponsor a softball team, having their name printed on the team's t-shirts. Name recognition and creating positive impressions are the goals in either case.
Business Insider further reports that the amount spent on outdoor signage has decreased by about 30 percent. In 2006 it made up six percent of ad spending, but dropped to four percent in 2011.
Electronic media channels have come online in the past few years and have created a revolution in the advertising landscape.
Barn Raisers reports that only 14 percent of consumers trust advertisers. They turn instead to the Web to read reviews and conduct their own product research. Barn Raisers further reports that 90 percent of all purchase decisions begin online. If consumers don't find you on the Web, they won't know that you exist!
While consumer reliance on electronic media changes the advertising business, the new media also provide golden opportunities to those who embrace them. Advertisers now have a 24-hour public forum, where they can easily find and interact with customers and prospects. Internet users are plugged in an average of 10.5 hours per day, according to eMarketer.
So how do you best position your products to be found on the web, and how do you best communicate with your prospects online?
Business websites have become as essential as storefronts. Your site needs to be professionally designed and contain well-written original content. It must also contain a keyword strategy and be optimized to be found by search engines.
Understanding Internet Marketing for Small Businesses provides excellent tips on how to accomplish these goals.
While email marketing was viewed as the most effective form of advertising, RIT (page 33) reported that search engine optimization (SEO) came in second. Sixty-five percent of advertisers surveyed reported that SEO is the most effective tool in their arsenals.
HubSpot finds that when it comes to generating leads, SEO is tied with social media, each generating 14 percent. Email marketing is a close second at 13 percent. It is SEO, however, that converts more leads to customers than any other medium.
Email marketing carries similar advantages to direct mail, but at a fraction of the cost. It's also highly trackable, allowing advertisers to view open and click-thru rates.
RIT reports that advertisers invest a greater share of their ad dollars in email each successive year. In 2006, $800 million was spent on email advertising. By 2012 that number had more than doubled, rising to $1.7 billion. By 2016 it is expected to rise to $2.3 billion.
Social media is a great place to interact with your prospects and to reinforce your brand. You can join conversations, or purchase paid advertising, or both. Internet Viral Marketing explains how to tap into word-of-mouth endorsements using social media.
A survey by Social Media Examiner reveals that the top benefits of social media include:
- Greater exposure
- Increased website traffic
- Lead generation
- Customer loyalty
- Improved sales
The same survey revealed that Facebook is the most popular social medium among advertisers, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs.
The most trusted form of advertising is word of mouth; 92 percent of consumers rely on personal recommendations. Consumer reviews posted online come in second at 70 percent, and these are found on social media. Specifically, people look to Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and blogs to help inform their purchasing decisions. Given that fact, it's no surprise that more and more advertising dollars flow to social media each year. ClickZ reports that spending on social media, at $3.8 billion in 2011, is expected to grow to $9.8 billion by 2016.
Google Ad Words
If you want to guarantee that your website shows up on the first page of Google, and you aren't confident that your optimization efforts will get you there, you can purchase a favorable position. This is sometimes referred to as pay per click (PPC). The amount of money it costs to buy ad space on Google depends on the competitiveness of the search term.
PPC is an effective medium for advertising, yielding $6 in sales for every $1 spent. The New York Times reports that click rates are climbing, forcing up prices, which may mean that some advertisers without deep pockets will be priced out of the medium. The best way for businesses to compete effectively is through savvy ad word strategies.
Mobile and Notebook Devices
Be sure to make all your ads and content adaptable for mobile phones and tablets. According to eMarketer the average retail sale made on a notebook is $53, on a mobile phone, $24, and on a laptop, $22.
Pew Research reports that more than half of Americans own smartphones, and these people are engaged with their phones. Seventy percent have even looked up store websites from inside the store, and 75 percent even take their phones with them into the bathroom! Many also have money to spend; 78 percent of people with household incomes greater than $75,000.00 per year reported owning and using a smartphone.
Advertisers are struggling to keep up with the growing mobile trend. Even though mobile ad spending has increased by 400 percent, 75 percent of brands have no mobile strategy.
Putting it All Together
Entrepreneur reports that the Wharton School of Business set out to determine the best advertising investment. With funding from large corporations, Wharton analyzed the impact of all forms of advertising. They spent $1 million over seven years, applying scientific monitoring to dozens of small businesses. In the end, they generated a 2,500 page report and arrived at three definitive conclusions. Regardless of what advertising medium you choose:
- The number of dollars spent on media advertising has no direct correlation to the results obtained.
- Results are "inextricably linked" to ad content.
- Repetition increases results.
As you research various media channels and their trends, understand that there is no one sure-fire medium that can guarantee that you will achieve the results you want. What you can do is identify potential opportunities, and watch where the smart (or at least big) money advertisers are placing their bets.