The old model of digital advertising is broken—but that doesn’t mean marketing is entirely dead. Here are a few clever alternatives to old-school ads.
The writing has been on the wall for some time. The majority of users no longer trust display ads. People are increasingly ignoring online banner and video ads. And ad blockers have never been more popular.
Jeff Kunzler of Design is Law explains:
A large part of web ads are malicious, misogynist, full of malware/ransomware, and are a risk to your computer. Adblock rose to popularity due to people growing fed up with risking their computer being infected by malicious advertisements, and the Internet’s going to have to adapt.
That means that if you want to foster awareness of your brand, you need to adapt as well. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives. Here are just a few.
Traditional ads are designed to stand out. They are clearly not part of any website on which they appear. And that’s exactly the problem with them. Either they interrupt the user’s browsing experience, or users overlook them entirely due to a phenomenon called banner blindness.
Native advertisements solve this problem by blending with the websites that host them. Some examples include advertorials, infographics, branded content, and sponsored content.
- Serve them to the right audience.
- Tailor them to the site that is hosting them.
- Do not promote your business directly.
- Choose the format that best fits your demographic.
- Make sure people can identify them as promoted content.
The era of social media has given rise to a new class of individual: the influencer. Whether because of pre-existing celebrity status, skillful marketing, or a high level of knowledge, people look to these men and women as experts. When these influencers endorse a product or brand, others listen.
- Choose influencers that match the “personality” of your brand. You generally would not seek out a hip-hop artist as an influencer if your customers are primarily high-level executives.
- Rather than looking at how large influencers’ social followings are, look at their audience engagement. Do the followers regularly share their influencer’s content, or are they mostly passive?
- Ideally, seek influencers that are already engaged with your brand. A well-known professional who follows you on Twitter would be a good example.
- Offer influencers something of value, and show respect when communicating with them. You should treat them as valued business partners rather than just another advertising stream.
- Look for influencers where your audience is. Fashion companies, for example, stick to Instagram.
Contests and Giveaways
Although they have been around for a long time, brand-sponsored competitions remain one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal. Not only do they inspire your audience to do your advertising for you but they also help you gather more data about your customers in the process. And if you manage to make your contest go viral, that success is infinitely more valuable than even the most expensive banner ad.
“Online contests are one of the easiest ways to find new customers and reconnect with the customers you already have,” writes social marketing expert Brent Purves. “They are quick to set up, affordable to run, and consistently see excellent ROI.”
As with the other entries on this list, there are a few keys to running an effective contest:
- Make sure the prize is something your audience will want.
- Set a clear time limit to create the illusion of scarcity.
- Target your contest at a specific audience to foster a sense of community in participants.
- Get influencers involved in promoting your contest.
- Encourage participants to talk about your contest on social media, or share their contest entries.
- Most importantly, make your contest fun. Your contest should incorporate something you know your audience already enjoys doing. For example, it could involve taking the best picture at a festival, writing the best short story, or simply attending a concert or fundraiser.
Digital advertising has evolved, but the fact that it has isn’t a bad thing. If you know what you’re doing, it’s easier than ever before to spread the word about your brand. When you abandon banner ads, you will find that the alternatives are far superior—and you might wonder how you ever went without them.
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