Is the Age of the Influencer Over?   

Mad Men, although fictional, is a celebration of an important period for both advertising and society. This era, defined by increasing influence of advertising and marketing on reality, was known as the golden period for good reason. This was the age of the influencer, of those pioneers who could creatively align emotions with inanimate objects and turn it into profit. These people irrevocably changed image and language from tools for representing reality into mechanisms of a new kind of existence where things make us feel. And we’re still building on the foundations of their work today. We’re surrounded by signs and symbols that give us something much more than reality. But something fundamental has changed in our approach to advertising; the dialogue has opened, and the sermon has become a two-way conversation between marketers and consumers, and their new language is data. 

Technology’s Role in Modern Advertising 

Unlike their predecessors, contemporary marketers are, for the most part, informed by statistics. Market research certainly had its place in the golden age, but it barely scratches the surface of today’s insights. As consumers, we provide reams of information on a daily basis through internet usage; this data, previously unobtainable, has become the guiding beacon for ad campaigns, from inception to delivery. New technology has created outlets for consumers to be heard (or tracked); anyone who uses a smartphone or the internet is already speaking the language of modern advertising. Marketers are listening avidly to consumer clicks and responding with their suggestions. Data is fast becoming the world’s most valuable resource. 

Data + Insight = Advertising Placement x Creativity = Advertising Gold 

For a conversation to work, both parties must be engaged, but thanks to overexposure, it’s becoming easier to lose ads in the online white noise. The advent of new forms of technology has made life much easier for marketers listening in on consumers’ needs and habits; however, the sheer number of ads online, and the scattershot manner in which people use the internet has made getting consumer attention challenging.  

To solve the puzzle of meaningful exposure, we must combine our data with insight. What digital device is most relevant for the product or service being marketed? Does a particular app fit in with the target consumers’ habits? Is there a site that engages with a more relevant audience? For a successful campaign, marketers should ask these questions (and more).  

Creativity should be employed at every level of an advertising campaign. Platforms and topics don’t necessarily have to connect directly with the advertisement to deliver a receptive audience. In fact, more creative insights can result in massive savings, because marketers are targeting less obvious (and less saturated) exposure routes. Similarly, timing can have a significant impact on a campaign’s success. The placement could be perfect, and the creative elements could convey the right message, but it would be a waste if the audience is exposed to the material at the wrong time.  

Creativity is possibly the most challenging element to get right, as there is no data freely given on consumer preferences in this area. Market research is extremely useful here, as are the tools at marketers’ disposal (such as a/b testing). Example research from Expedia Media Solutions has shown that providing consumers with informative content on travel destinations can have a significant impact on their decision making. Other sectors would find that this educational approach to advertising does not work (gym equipment being an obvious choice here – lifestyle goals associated with the products are more compelling than the physical benefits of using them). Websites like Semrush also provide competitor analysis services, which can be particularly useful when understanding the type of strategy used in a particular industry. 

Modern Advertising Isn’t Fixed: Test and Adapt 

A benefit of digital marketing is the ability to adapt to a campaign. If something isn’t working, it can be changed. Tools can help marketers test various approaches, which could result in turning a mediocre campaign into something far more successful. Having team members dedicated to tracking a campaign’s performance helps increase leads and save otherwise wasted money. 

Think you’ve got the skills to keep the conversation going? An HND in Business or Travel and Tourism Management might be the perfect higher education course for you. Both courses teach the practical skills employers have deemed important to the industry, and you’ll get the opportunity to study a module on marketing. Contact a UKCBC course advisor today to find out more.

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