If you’ve been wondering what is advertising in 2021 as tools, tech and preferences change – here we offer the complete guide, including a definition, trends, advice and more.
In deciding on your marketing approaches, there are a variety of options, strategies and combinations you could employ to grow your business and sell your service or products. Marketing is complex, ever-changing and vital in selling products and services, connecting with current audiences and developing new markets and opportunities.
The right marketing can make your brand stand out in the market, depending on the tactics you choose and how you manage them. Every choice has to be relevant to your brand and your audience.
Once you’ve read this article, it’s best to clarify your audience and target market to ensure any advertising channels you choose to develop are focused on meeting your business goals.
Advertising is a marketing approach that requires paying for ad space to promote a business or product. This advertising space is usually in spaces not owned or run by your business, this could be a digital space or real media, such as radio or television advertising.
Paid advertising can be used in multiple ways depending on your business goals and target market. You can use advertising to expand awareness of your brand, reaching new people and getting them to engage. Another way to use paid advertising is to remarket to the people who already buy from your brand, encouraging them to buy more or share the brand with their friends.
However you choose to use it, you must remember that advertising is a part of your overall marketing strategy and can add opportunities not offered by other options. All tactics have pros and cons so it’s important to know what benefits your business and the problems you may have to deal with by using advertising.
Pros and Cons of Advertising
Advertising is a practice whereas other marketing areas involve research and collecting data. Audience research done in other marketing areas will feed into your company’s advertising, making data a valuable first step in any of your marketing ventures. In advertising specifically, the focus is on the idea you want to communicate or the problem you want to solve for your audience. Advertising can be an amazing way to make your company stand out through careful selection of your creative and your placement.
Below is a list of pros and cons of advertising to help you decide if this is the right route for your business and your next marketing plans.
|You have control over the message shown in your ads (subject to codes of conduct).||Advertising can become very expensive, depending on your choice of agency and media.|
|You have control over where and when your advertising is shown, especially in digital.||It can be hard to measure your ROI on some media choices e.g. billboards.|
|Opportunity to be creative with your brand and stand out from competition.||Your audience will need high exposure to your ad in order for it to make an impact.|
|Useful for a specific event or eye-catching offer to get the message out.||Ads have a less favourable reputation, tending to be skipped or forgotten.|
|It can be very targeted to your audience, especially through digital channels.||A bad ad could impact your reputation with your target audience, pushing them elsewhere.|
Overall, if planned and delivered in line with your brand and your business goals, advertising can be an excellent addition to your marketing mix, especially when it comes to reaching new customers. To make it effective, you’ll need to make sure you have enough budget to spend on the advertising to reach a high number of people while making sure that the returns meet your expectations and goals, such as prompting new customers to buy or maybe simply getting them to your shop.
How does advertising fit into the marketing mix?
Advertising might be the main tactic you can think of but there are a range of approaches that can be supportive of a paid campaign. This ranges from digital options such as your organic posts on your business’ facebook page, email newsletters or an ongoing blog on your website along with in real life options, such as packaging or business cards for your employees.
It makes sense to integrate your advertising with other marketing tactics you’re already using or plan to use as this can help to amplify your message and help your audience remember and recall your advertising. When you plan out your marketing, think about what parts of your business might be attractive to new customers – these can then become parts of your paid advertising over a period of time.
You don’t have to use every idea at once either so save some, test one at a time, see what works the best and go with that. Just like most other areas, advertising will need testing for effective times of day, days of the week and parts of the year. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a great idea of behaviour trends of your target and you’ll be able to build more of your advertising into periods and places where your audience will be most receptive to it.
Glossary of key terms used in advertising
To start using advertising in your business, it’s worth knowing some key terms so that you can pick out media options, explain your choices to advertising professionals and that you know whose job it is to resize your logo. Hopefully knowing these terms will give you the confidence to push the boundaries and be super creative in your advertising,
Copy: the words for your advertising, everything from slogans to body text, usually written by the copywriter.
Art: the images, design and layout of your advertising, usually created by the art director.
Print: Reference to paper-based advertising in newspapers and magazines.
PPC: Acronym for pay-per-click advertising. The advertising you’ll need to use for adverts in Google or other search engines.
Above the line: mass media that is targeted at a large audience and trying to reach as many people as possible, media includes TV and radio, billboards, internet.
Below the line: more of a focused approach of advertising, with a one to one feeling, media includes pamphlets, stickers, point of sale.
ROI: Return on Investment is a key way to measure the effectiveness of your campaign, for example, if twenty people clicked on your ad and spent £5 each and you spent £20 on the ad, that has a good ROI.
Audience: Also referred to as your target market, the people who you want to see and remember your advertising.
Call to action: One solid line that prompts your audience to do something e.g. buy now.
How has advertising changed in recent years?
With the development of the internet and social media, advertising has moved online allowing brands and businesses to create advertising campaigns across multiple channels, considering the digital and in-person touchpoints of their audience and building the campaign accordingly.
A campaign in 2021 will involve multiple media, such as a radio jingle, a page in a magazine, Facebook ads and Google ads. Each strand of media might add to the advertising story in order to make the advertising and brand memorable to the audience.
Advertising in 2021 is a much more fast-moving sector as digital has opened up the opportunity to run three week campaigns and see an instant return on investment directly from specific ads, it’s much cheaper and more trackable which therefore makes digital an obvious media for spending your budget over less trackable media like print.
Campaigns can also be much more flexible, built around seasonal sales or a one-day special offer rather than a longer term brand awareness campaign that may have been used in the past. Brands and advertising can move more quickly which means they can react to trends and news stories in order to interact with their audiences in a relatable manner.
Niche vs Mass Media
When it comes to picking out approaches for your advertising, the two main routes are either using mass media or niche media. Each has a place in an appropriate advertising strategy and depends on your company, desired message and target audience.
We all know and consume mass media on a daily basis. This is everything that a majority of people will see or have contact with throughout their day-to-day life: television adverts, out of home advertising (billboards, bus stops), radio adverts. The message is usually quite general but is still aimed at a segment of people, such as women in their 30s who live in a certain place.
On the other hand, niche media is advertising that focuses on a smaller part of the segment. For example, women in their 30s who live in a certain place and make soap as a hobby. Niches can be narrowed down in a number of ways depending on how specific you would like your audience to be.
You can define a niche by:
- Interests, values and attitudes
- Level of quality (of the product)
Once you’ve identified this niche, you would then look at all the media that this person may consume and choose an option that fits with this small group better than the larger segment that they could also be included in. For example, if you sold soap-making kits and products you might choose to use niche media for your advertising.
The women who make soap might watch videos for how to make different types of soap on Youtube, therefore you would create advertising for Youtube and target the soap-making channels. Alternatively, you could take out a print advertisement in a craft magazine when they have a focus on soaps and soap-making.
By focusing on your niche, you connect with people who have a definite interest in your product. It reduces the overall reach of your campaign but places you directly in front of the people who are most likely to buy from you. If you can find an opportunity to use niche media for advertising your business, it is worth looking into and testing alongside mass media to see how the audiences interact with your ads and, ultimately, which media best meets your goals for the campaign.
When choosing your audience for your advertising, it can be relevant to focus on a local market. These are the people who may live near or pass by your business. In this case, it can be incredibly important to have clear branding at your location and then use that clear branding on your advertising so that people make the connection.
At first it seems that local advertising would be focused on out of home advertising, like billboards or bus stops but this also includes advertising in local newspapers and online or print listings, on area-specific radio stations or television channels. It also includes using the internet as most social media channels give you the ability to focus on a local area with your digital ads, this might be by home location or by people in that area.
This is an amazing opportunity for businesses that cater to tourism or in areas popular with tourists as you can target the people coming into a certain radius of your business with your social media ads. Your social media ads could also be used in conjunction with print advertising and billboards to amplify your message and ensure you’re reaching a wider audience across different media.
Google My Business and Google Maps in local advertising
The most important thing that you could do for your business is listing on Google My Business. Google benefits from just over 70% of the market share in online search so getting your business on to this search engine is a great way to be seen by a lot of people. It’s also free to list your business in the first instance so an easy way to get your name out there without spending any of your precious advertising budget.
This profile also allows customers to communicate with you and leave reviews. If you can get customers leaving reviews, it’s a great way to validate your business and encourage other people who see you online to use your services or buy your products, people like to see lots of good reviews so the more you can get, the better your business looks.
When setting up Google My Business, if you input your business address, you will appear on both google searches and in the app Google Maps. Maps is available as an app and on the internet and can be used to find businesses nearby or en route. Lots of people use Maps to plan journeys, find their way around a new place or to discover new places to visit, this is a prime opportunity to put your business in front of lots of potential new customers.
When people search for businesses “near me” Google will use the Google My business information and list the places geographically closest so getting your address on there is vital and could result in people choosing to visit you in person.
Is print advertising dead?
The death of print advertising is widely disputed. Of course, print advertising is not dead in that you can still place an ad in print if you want one and many local advertisers are still going strong. People are still buying newspapers and magazines otherwise they wouldn’t be available in shops so there is a market.
However, this question is more focused on the effectiveness of print advertising in comparison to other media. Print advertising is notoriously difficult to monitor return on investment as there is no direct click or measurement that can be taken. Someone might see your ad in March and then use your business in May and you have no real idea that they did unless they tell you.
Just last year, Forbes reported on a resurgence of long-form copy advertisements due to brands looking to build trust and say more than a catchy slogan or a limited number of characters. Long copy was very popular in the 1950s and 60s, creating some of the most timeless and creative ads that are still referred to today by advertising schools and agencies across the country.
It would make sense that during the coronavirus pandemic, when everything feels unstable, the world would revert back to times of comfort which the past can bring to many. The 1950s also reminds people of a time post-war when life was simpler and many people lived life similar to how many felt during the pandemic: growing vegetables in the garden, staying in the UK for holidays, spending time cooking meals at home.
The Press Gazette reported that expected spend for print advertising would drop by 23% in 2020 with a heavy reliance on government advertising to keep print afloat. This article outlines that newsbrands were harder hit than magazines, suggesting that magazines may hit a more specific target audience, especially for luxury and travel brands.
The story points out that businesses see print advertising as a support to their overall marketing strategy rather than a priority, possibly looking to keep their budget spend in digital, TV and radio and out of home media instead. This presents an angle that to pick up print advertising at a time when many brands are turning away from it could be a way to make your business stand out but again, this media must be relevant to your target audience and business goals.
Overall, it really depends on your business and your budget. If you are looking to break into a niche market, finding a good print publication that fits your niche could be incredibly beneficial, especially if you’re ahead of your competition. It is a way to make your business stand out from others who might focus on more digital approaches. However, you need to know how you will measure the success of your ads in order to decide whether to create more in the future, you need to know this before placing the ad so that you can track and measure as soon as the ad goes out into the world.
What is pay per click advertising?
PPC advertising is ads on a search engine (not necessarily Google) where you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, these are the “sponsored links” or “ads” in the listings. The majority of brands use Google but there are other search engines you could use such as Bing.
PPC advertising is a lucrative form of advertising as you only click when someone goes through to whatever link you are directing them to, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes and budgets. However, this also makes PPC susceptible to loopholes like click fraud or bidding on competitors’ brand names to appear next to them.
You bid on a particular key word or phrase and then the search engine decides how relevant your advert and link is to that phrase and ranks businesses accordingly. A brand that is very relevant will get the top spot with less relevant ads taking lower places above or below the search listings.
Pay per click advertising is not search engine optimisation and does not directly help with your organic rankings in search listings.
PPC is great for putting yourself in front of your customer at the time when they want to make a purchase. If you think about the words they might use to search for your product or service and then use those in your PPC campaigns, there’s a good chance you’ll be in the right place at the right time.
If you want immediate action such as buying a product or signing up to a newsletter, this is the media for your advertising spend.
How to create a PPC Ad
To create a PPC ad, you first need an account on Google Adwords and Microsoft Advertising, you could start with one or the other but might as well set up an account with both so that you are ready and you can compare the process of each one side by side.
Next, you’ll need to decide what your targets for your advertising are. This might be increasing sales, bringing in more enquiries, or improving newsletter sign ups. It is important to know your goals before you get started so that you can clearly define your advertising and make sure it is effective.
From there, you need to decide what keywords you’ll want to bid on. Think about what your customer might type into a search engine to find you and build your campaign around these words. Then you set your bid up on those words and decide on your budget, you can choose daily, weekly or monthly options.
Once decided, write your PPC advert and link to a relevant page on your website. Remember, the more relevant the page is to your keywords, the more likely you’ll secure the ad.
Monitor, tweak and improve your approach over time. One of the best things about PPC is that it can be regularly changed and added to and it’s easy to learn more while you are actually using the platforms.
Pros and Cons of PPC advertising
To make it really easy, we’ve created a summary of the positives and negatives of PPC advertising to help you decide if this is the media for your business. It can be tough to know where to start but if you’re looking to dabble in digital advertising, PPC is very effective and will give you a real insight into the workings of search engines which can then inform other areas of your marketing and business.
|You only pay when someone clicks on your ad making it super cost effective.||There are a lot of keywords that you could select, narrowing them down to the right ones for you will take time and change as your knowledge grows.|
|You have the power to target a very specific audience by location and device.||It can take a lot of time to manage and optimise your campaigns.|
|You can measure the impact of your campaign almost immediately, the data starts rolling in once you go live.||If not monitored carefully, you could end up spending more money than you originally planned to. Keep an eye on your campaigns!|
|You have the flexibility to update and alter your campaigns according to changing trends or business updates – you’re not stuck with your ad once you’ve made it.||Clicks and visits don’t always lead to the customer completing the task you planned for them. This may highlight that your customer doesn’t think your linked page is relevant to the ad they clicked on.|
|You don’t necessarily need a huge budget to see results, your advert and link just need to be relevant to the keywords.||Click fraud can happen – costing you money without real customers. Around 20% of clicks on ads are fraudulent!|
Social Media Advertising
Social media is incredibly accessible, you probably already have social media accounts set up for your business where you post organic content into the newsfeed or on to the grid. If not, you probably have personal accounts on at least one platform.
The extensive and increasing use of social media makes it a valuable route for advertising as you can get your business in front of a large group of people while still targeting them by geography, their interests and their device. With social media advertising spending set to increase by 20% in the next year, many brands already understand the value of these platforms in their marketing strategy.
Social media is great for making the most of the people who already follow you, they act like ambassadors for your brand by leaving positive comments and reviews. You can also use social media to target people similar to the audience who follow you, a great way to expand your audience as you’ll most likely connect with people who will like your business. Social media ads work well if your target audience are active users of the platform and if you have a strong social media presence.
What social media platform should I advertise on?
The main social media platforms that work well for advertising are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. These platforms all have very straightforward advertising platforms that will take you through each step in the process of creating your ads. If you get started and you’re not sure what to do, search the internet as there are lots of helpful guides to creating adverts on social media.
Below we have outlined each of these platforms, what sort of business they’re suitable for and the kind of content that works well in ads on each of the platforms. This information will help you decide which platform is worthwhile advertising with.
|Platform:||Best used by:||Content:|
|Businesses looking to advertise to the masses as Facebook has a varied and large use base.||Video content that is fairly short (30 secs-1 min), eye-catching images, links directly to your target page.|
|Aesthetically-focused businesses, e.g. interiors, clothes, holidays.||Video or images but must be high quality, links directly to target page.|
|Trend focused businesses, niche industries, e.g. “#edutwitter” is a niche community of teachers and educators.||Memes, video, images, news-related content, anything that prompts a comment or reaction from the audience.|
|B2B businesses, you’re looking to target people who talk about work and might need help with their own companies.||Useful content for businesses, such as blog posts or newsletter sign ups, infographics to prompt audience to click through for more information.|
|Creative/visual businesses.||Images used across your website, blog title tiles work well to introduce the writing.|
What makes a good social media advert?
You must always remember the main purpose of social media: socialising and connection. The more you create advertising that is relevant to your audience and then respond when they engage with your work, the more successful your work will be.
The basics of making a good social media advert are using eye-catching images and carefully crafting your copy so that it provokes a response, you might ask a question to encourage people to comment or withhold some information and direct them to your website to sign up to your newsletter or find out more about a special offer.
In terms of a social media campaign, you should change creative on your adverts every two to three weeks to keep the images fresh, hopefully catching the people who scrolled past your ad before. This needs to be monitored so make sure you schedule in enough time to keep checking on how your ad is doing and making any changes. If you find that your ad doesn’t run, you may need to increase your audience size or change the content if the social media platform deems it inappropriate.
Alongside the information here, there are a number of Facebook groups dedicated to supporting businesses with social media marketing, including creating and delivering advertising campaigns. This groups vary depending on your industry and the size of your business but they are so helpful in sharing ideas and learning more about social media advertising.
Key creative approaches to make effective advertising campaigns
Creating your own advertising campaigns can be hard if you’ve never considered it before. There’s so many choices: who to target, what to advertise, what media to use and much more. However, if you’re willing to give it a go creating campaigns is an amazing way to get to know your business more and to ensure that your advertising message aligns with the values and attitudes of your business.
Depending on the media you’re using, it can be quite straightforward to get started and figure out what to do. Digital platforms are a great place to test your creative advertising skills as you can edit and update your ad content and spending quickly and easily, it also allows you a good focus with audience selection so you can ensure that the people you want to see your ad will see it.
For most platforms, you can search the internet for a guide on how to use their advertising platforms – making this a really accessible way to get started if you’re worried about selecting your media.
To get started on your next advertising campaign, there are five key steps to take. Some will take longer than others, some might require information from your business or previous marketing approaches. Follow these next five steps and get your first advertisement out into the world.
The more you can plan, the better. First of all, decide what product or service or brand you will be advertising. What one or two things do you want your audience to remember about the product/service/brand? For example, a local bakery might choose to tell you about their new postal delivery brownies so you can share their yummy treats with friends and family who live far away. The more focused you can be on your point, the more likely you will be to make it clear, concise and memorable for your audience.
Next, understand your audience. Find out as much about them as you can by using the data that already exists or by taking an educated guess. You’ll need to think about their age, their gender, their job, their hobbies, their modes of transport, the apps they use, their interests and more. The more you can outline your audience at this point, the easier it will be to talk to them through your adverts.
2. Get inspiration (but don’t copy)
Start looking at the work of your competition to gain some insight into what the market is saying to consumers in general. Then widen your scope out to companies who aren’t direct competition but maybe work within the same sector. Beyond this, it’s great to also look at general media as inspiration can come from anywhere.
An amazing tool for visual inspiration is Pinterest. You can type in a key word related to your brand or campaign and then look through so many pieces of content and media, collating the ones you like the most into digital moodboards for later reference. Remember when you are gathering this inspiration that you must not copy anything, there are laws surrounding creative and intellectual property that must be respected.
3. Divergent thinking (many answers)
Once you’ve gathered some inspiration, get thinking. It can be really hard to come up with ideas for advertisements so take any idea that pops up, make the process easy for yourself. At this point your ideas will swing wildly from one concept to the next, that’s the point. Write all of these down to get them out of your head and keep them safe.
4. Convergent thinking (narrow down the answers)
From your many ideas, you now need to narrow these down. Go back to your planning to remind yourself of your target audience and the message you want them to gain from your ads. Now, looking at all of your ideas, choose two that best fit with both audience and message.
Using your two ideas, explore how these might look as an ad. Go wild here: make sketches, add colours, think about the platform you’ll be using. Keep coming back to the audience and message to check that this could work. Once you’ve explored these further, one will stand out more than the other, this is your final idea.
5. Create and check
Take your final idea and flesh it out. Write with your company tone of voice and design according to your brand guidelines. Ensure that the message you want to communicate is coming from your brand through colours, logo and tone. It has to feel like your website or shop does, helping your audience associate that ad with the experience they have/had while connecting with your business.
Should I use an advertising agency?
Advertising agencies know the most about advertising and can figure out the best places to put your money in order to gain a good return on your investment. If you were looking for support with your website, you would probably go to a web developer, so if you want help with your advertising, an agency could be a great option for getting it done without taking up your time.
An agency wants to bring you a successful outcome from your investment so they are likely to put in the time and effort that is required to reach your goals.
However, choosing an advertising agency is tough when you’ve got so many to choose from. Firstly, reach out to your personal networks to see if anyone else has worked with an agency they would recommend. It’s always better to work with an agency who you know has helped another business directly rather than just taking the agency’s word for it.
Secondly, turn to search engines and find your local agencies. Check out their reviews and make comparisons between them depending on your needs and priorities.
Some advertising agencies specialise in certain areas, especially with social media and PPC. This could be useful in getting advertising campaigns set up and running before you look to run them yourself in the long term future. It’s also useful if you know that you only want to focus on one area to begin with as you can hand over this advertising to the experts and not give up your own time trying to sort out teething problems.
The decision really rests on your business needs, your available time and your budget. If you can afford to pay for agency support, it will definitely help you to establish your advertising and possibly learn from the agency along the way. If you choose not to use an agency, there are so many brilliant online courses, guides and blogs related to advertising that you can learn from and experiment across your media channels.
What is advertising in 2021? It’s alive and kicking, with more data then ever to help you judge demand, generate ideas, and measure the success of your compaigns. Digital advertising gives you more platforms to reach niche audiences, in addition to print publications and the traditional, mass media channels, such TV, radio and newspapers.
Advertising can be a brilliant, useful tactic to add to your marketing. It is broad and varied depending on your choices of media and your business goals, with so much scope there’s definitely some gain that every business can make by using or improving their advertising approaches.