If we take a step back and look at advertising during the print and TV golden age, we notice that companies used their advertising strategies in these mediums to not just sell products but to also build a brand. That remains the case today, but it seems largely big established brands use these mediums to re-enforce their brand as well as promote products. But as more advertising dollars shift to online, and in many ways advertising online is cheaper than offline mechanisms, it is fascinating to watch how brand upstarts are using new techniques in the digital age to build their brand and promote their products.
TV Content Still Works
One noteworthy observation is that TV content still works as a place to promote your brand and product. What is changed is how some demographics consume that TV content. For example, 46% of consumers aged 45 and higher state they mostly find out about new brands, products, and services from ads they see on a broadcast TV medium. Meaning one from a cable provider coming to a big screen TV set. While only 29% of those aged 16-24 say, they find out about new brands, products, and services from conventional television consumption. When it comes to online ads, the numbers are nearly flipped. 42% of 16-24-year-olds discover new brands, products, and services from ads they see consuming online TV, or online video content, and only 24% of those aged 45 and higher say they discover brands, products, and services from online TV content.
This shift simply shows how then nature of how and where different demographics consume their long-form TV/video not that these groups are no longer watching TV shows. In fact, the rise of Emmy awards and nominations of TV shows that are only online through services like Netflix, and Hulu, are a testament that TV is not dead but the aggregators we use to get our TV, and the streaming forum represent a change in old guard networks to new ones.
From an advertising perspective, this change of landscape and consumption habits by different demographics means being more intentional about the medium you use to get your brand, product, or service in front of consumers than ever before.
Social Media and New Brands
When it comes to the consumer market, social media has turned into a low-cost way to start to build your brand. I’m betting most of you have seen an ad in Facebook for a “product/s in a box” company that offers you personalized and curated product selections in a boxed shipment every month. At least I see a lot of those, maybe you see something different, but the point is we are all exposed to new brands all the time on social media. Many new startups I talk to in the consumer space and solely using social media to get brand awareness for their company and their product and service. When done right, it is hugely effective.
Here again, we have a disparity between how consumers in different demographics discover and experience brands when it comes to social media. In a recent brand discovery study, I read, consumers aged 16-34 were 50% more likely to be influenced positively by a brand advertisement on social media. Where less than 30% of 35-65 yr olds indicated, they were influenced positively by ads/brands they see in social media. While the study did not dive into this specific point, I have a hunch that most the brands spending aggressively on social media are newer brands looking to establish credibility. Younger consumers seem more receptive to these new brands while older consumers are less trusting and are more influenced by traditional advertising, which only larger more established brands can afford, and therefore more receptive to things they believe they can trust.
Trust and the Influencers
While running ads on Instagram and Facebook seem to be a strategy of many brands, the newest one that seems to yield the most fruit is that of leveraging social media influencers. The report looked at how social media influencers (vloggers, celebrities, expert reviewers or commentators) had on different demographics regarding their interest to consider a product or service they discovered via an influencer. Consistent with social media numbers, 44% of 16-34-year-olds were highly influenced by social media influencers, and in particular, those who use video like vloggers. YouTube has quickly generated a new era of influencers, YouTube stars, etc., and this demographic seems particularly influenced from a marketing perspective from this medium. Perhaps not surprising is the 35-65 age demographic added up to less than 20% of the age group saying they were influenced by this medium.
As I reflect on some of our research as well, it is the YouTube phenomenon that I think has, and will have, the most profound impact on the younger generations. Gen Z, in particular, is practically glued to YouTube and they follow many different personalities, learn a new skill, discover new products, watch toy or product unboxings, etc., and brands who use this channel correctly will make inroads with this demographic in ways many others will struggle with focusing on other channels.
Talking with many brands, it has become clear they realize the game has completely changed. There is still tremendous value, and they know it, in traditional advertising methods like television for example. However, they realize they need to adapt in the digital age and embrace a wider variety of channels as they attempt to more specifically target their customers.
Ultimately the great promise of social media/digital advertising is the benefit of being able to hyper-target your customers. However, as of now, this is proving more of a challenge for brands and advertisers than it is an opportunity at the moment.