Create Buzz. Not Ads.

Almost anywhere you look today, you are bound to see empty space filled up with some sort of advertisement. Whether it’s a print flier, a billboard or a broadcast commercial, advertisers are constantly finding new “white space” to place their messages and promote their brand. 

Although platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are currently in their early days of sponsored content, the more traditional forms—television and print—have declined in effectiveness. With a skeptical Gen Z turning to content creators and social media platforms, they are tuning out annoying advertisements. Now more than ever, advertisers and marketers should be aware the challenges that the industry is facing, and how to adapt by taking a more creative approach to promotional practices.

Aside from traditional media, digital advertising is also facing a serious threat. Consumers are constantly bombarded with ads in this new age of distracted marketing, and it’s part of the reason ad-blocking is on the rise. Research found that the most disliked digital advertising methods were pop-ups, auto-playing videos and deceptive messages—or clickbait. According to a Huffington Post article, it is estimated that the average Internet user is served 11,250 ads per month. Advertisement distrust has lead to more platforms offering paid subscriptions instead of playing ads (i.e. HBO, Netflix, Spotify, etc.), because no one wants to be interrupted when consuming content.

Paul Verna, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer, said in a statement, “The best way for the industry to tackle this problem is to deliver compelling ad experiences that consumers won’t want to block.” There are plenty of great examples of notable marketing campaigns out there. 

For example, Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign included all of the elements of a meaningful storyline. In fact, the series of videos uploaded by the campaign was shared over 3.5 million times and viewed almost 114 million times, according to Business Insider. The approach Dove took changed the way the audience felt about the company, thus in turn created online conversations—or buzz.

But this is all you need, right? Not always. All too often, good advertising gets lost in the sea of a more distracting form of advertising. Great advertising, however, will add value to the life of the consumer and inspire them.

What is great advertising and how is it going to change in the next few years? We have to look at how successful industries are embracing change. For example, Uber, Airbnb and other Silicon Valley startups are among the leaders in successful industry trends, because they found holes in the market and filled them with the consumer in mind. On that note, the advertising agencies of today should focus on investing into an adaptable team that will propel their ideas and latch onto trends. If current consumer mentalities have a distrust for ads, marketers will have to need shift they way they advertise.

A perfect example of great advertising can be found in a book called The End of Advertising: Why It Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come. The author, Andrew Essex, discusses how The Lego Movie is essentially a two-hour advertisement. It’s not what most people consider traditional advertising; however, it was largely successful with its ability to deeply resonate with the audience. It was funny, relatable, and had a deep storyline. Lego Group also reported a huge sales jump the year following the movie.

piece written on The Guardian said, “The Lego Movie should get a Cannes Lion Grand Prix for advertising. It sells the magic of plastic that can link generations.”

The brand chose to invest capital to create something that would keep its audience talking. They added to an element of participatory culture for fans of all ages, which created something that can last and be watched over and over again.

On the other hand, companies can create buzz by investing in the community and America’s aging infrastructure. By focusing on outcomes instead of inputs, brands can create something meaningful, impactful and lasting. A great example of this is Citibank’s Citi Bike program.

Time and time again, consumers are more inclined to buy a product or service based on how they feel about the company. The real innovators aren’t the creative directors of the next $5 million 30-second Super Bowl commercial, but instead, the teams of like-minded individuals that understand the long-term outcome of investing capital and creativity into building a more meaningful tomorrow.

With ad-blocking becoming increasingly popular, especially with Gen Z, we should start considering how we want advertising to shape the world in the coming years. In short, do good work, then tell the world about it. Create buzz and get people talking. When brands seamlessly weave positive ideals into the lifestyles of consumers, the consumers will turn into influencers.

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