Businesses have things to sell. In order to survive and thrive, they need to find customers who want to buy those things. Enter advertising.
The earliest recorded advertisements have been found on ancient Egyptian papyrus, while modern advertising can be traced back to the invention of the printing press. When the first regular gazettes and newspapers began to be published in the 1500s, it started a revolution that ultimately evolved into the wealth of advertising channels, tools and tactics we see today.
But what exactly is an advertisement? And what does the modern business owner need to know about advertising? In this article, we’ll be answering those questions and more.
What is an advertisement?
An advertisement, otherwise known as an advert or ad, is generally considered a public communication that promotes a product, service, brand or event. To some the definition can be even broader than that, extending to any paid communication designed to inform or influence.
If these definitions feel vague, it’s because they are – the truth is that advertisements can be tricky to define, now more than ever. From bus shelters to search engines to Instagram influencers, the field of advertising has never been broader, deeper or more complex.
It’s important to note that advertising is not the same as marketing; it is rather a subcategory of it. Advertising is a type of paid marketing that the advertiser enjoys complete control over.
Why are advertisements important?
Advertisements are important for businesses because they are the most direct and proven way to reach potential customers. They can have an instant impact on your business in a number of ways, including:
Brand awareness: Advertising can make your target audience aware of your existence, helping them take the first step into the sales funnel.
Brand reputation: Carefully crafted messages can tell an audience what your brand stands for and how you work. By sharing your mission, philosophy, values and track record, you can use advertising to build an enviable reputation.
Corrections and apologies: Advertising can grant you the opportunity to apologise for a slip-up or correct the record if you feel as though something has been misrepresented.
Sales: Last but not least, the overwhelming majority of ads are designed to increase sales, whether by directly promoting a specific product, service or deal or by any of the less direct methods listed above.
5 types of advertisement
The vague definition of advertising offered at the top is a consequence of the variety of different forms ads come in and channels they’re delivered through.
Print advertising: Print ads see ink printed on paper. Newspapers, magazines, brochures, posters, flyers and direct mail are all examples of print advertising.
Broadcast advertising: In years gone by the term ‘broadcast advertising’ covered radio and TV, though these days the line between these formerly analogue channels and digital streaming services is blurrier than ever.
Outdoor advertising: Bus stops, billboards, blimps, banner planes, other things that don’t start with ‘B’ – outdoor advertising treats the whole world as an advertising stage.
Product integration: Perhaps the most subtle form of advertising, product integration sees products and brands included (and implicitly promoted) in film, TV, Instagram, YouTube and other forms of media.
Digital advertising: Over the last couple of decades digital advertising has overtaken all the other forms listed above. In fact, it really deserves its own section …
The rise of digital advertising
On the 27th of October 1994, some of the earliest internet users were met with a black triangle marked with a strange message as they browsed HotWired.com – “HAVE YOU EVER CLICKED YOUR MOUSE RIGHT HERE? »> YOU WILL.” This was the first ever banner ad, and almost half of those who saw it clicked on it.
This was perhaps the moment that digital advertising turned into the arms race we see today. The effectiveness, affordability and immediacy of digital advertising has seen it take over the marketing industry. Other forms of advertising simply can’t compete.
Digital advertising can be thought of as any advertising served up via the screen of your smartphone or computer. Unlike its print, broadcast and outdoor cousins, digital advertising is uniquely interactive – the audience can click on an advertisement to learn more about the brand or purchase the product.
The term ‘digital advertising’ covers a wealth of different marketing channels, tools, tactics and mediums, so let’s take a look at four of the most common digital advertisement examples.
4 types of digital advertising
From YouTube pre-roll ads to podcast sponsorships, digital advertising comes in seemingly endless forms. So instead of running through individual digital advertisement types, let’s instead focus on the four main subcategories of digital advertising.
It should be noted that this is far from a comprehensive list, but the four channels below do form the foundational pillars of many digital marketing strategies.
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1. Display ads
Display ads are the digital ads comprised of imagery and text that you see as you browse a website. The humble banner ad is an example of a display ad, though they come in a number of different forms, such as pop-up ads, flash/animated ads, interstitial ads, lightbox ads and expandable ads.
2. Social media ads
No segment of digital advertising has grown faster than social media advertising, for one major reason: social media platforms have deep knowledge of each of their users, which allows them to offer hyper-targeted advertising. If you want to advertise exclusively to 40-something women who have one child and are interested in softball, you can.
Social media ads include sponsored Twitter posts, Facebook carousel ads, YouTube pre-roll ads, Instagram influencer product integrations and more.
3. Search engine ads
While the marketing strategy of search engine optimisation (SEO) will help you to work your way up the search engine results page (SERP) for relevant search terms, there’s a far quicker and easier way to reach the top spot – pay.
You might think that you’ve become blind to the ads that are served up at the top of a Google search and that they, therefore, aren’t worth the money and effort, but the beauty of Google Ads is that they are pay per click (PPC) – you only pay if someone actually interacts with your ad! As such, they should form a key pillar of any digital advertising strategy, but always alongside SEO efforts.
4. Email marketing
It turns out that the oldest digital advertising campaign actually happened 16 years before the first banner ad. In 1978 Gary Thuerk sent out an email blast to 400 recipients. His company, Digital Equipment Corporation, reportedly made $13 million from the campaign.
Almost half a century later email marketing remains as effective as ever, earning $36 for every $1 spent. And in Square Marketing, you have a solution that can make your email campaigns even more effective, by creating and sending a campaign in minutes, and by using clever analytics to understand what works, what doesn’t, and how you can improve.
Are you ready to capitalise on the endless opportunity that digital advertising represents? If you want to put your name up in lights, Square has the tools and expertise to help you. Get in touch today!