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Maintaining effectiveness in the modern marketing landscape

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1st May 2024

The question marketers need to focus on: Does my advertising do enough to earn and validate my audience’s attention?

We are living in an increasingly noisy, distracting, discombobulating age. Marketers must reach, engage, persuade and endear their brands to audiences across a multitude of channels in a variety of formats, spinning plates whilst maintaining clear analytical objectivity to ensure that their investments have the desired effect.

Competing for attention

And with audiences facing a barrage of messages, competition for attention is fiercer than ever. As avid screen users, we’re exposed to search, display, email and social media ads. Advertorials are nestled alongside editorial content online. Influencers enthusiastically promote products and services. Podcasts and video streams are punctuated with messages from the sponsors. And, though less newfangled, traditional mediums like print, TV, outdoor and radio still play a significant role.

It’s a cacophony, a multi-sensory deluge of communication which, perhaps understandably, leads some marketing professionals to question whether there’s a risk that their advertising might occasionally have a propensity to do more harm than good. Indeed, stats abound on the hypothesised impact of so-called “intrusive ads”.

Weigh risks. Temper concerns.

It is reasonable that marketers should give the matter some thought. But equally, such concerns should be tempered. Barring calamitously-divisive marketing activity, many experts would argue that there is limited scope for brands to do themselves harm through their advertising.

There is of course and opportunity cost when campaigns underperform. And there are instances where brands land themselves in crises, for example, when Bud Light found itself embroiled in the culture wars after procuring an endorsement from Dylan Mulvaney, a prominent transgender actress and influencer. However, it can be said that a much more present danger lies in an inert attitude to brand investment, which inevitably sets a path to decline.

Ads have the power to raise awareness and salience, or prompt consideration and intrigue, trigger a sale, or even forge an affinity with an audience. (Real-world examples for all the above can be found here.)

To summarise, advertising moves the needle for brands; a sustained lack of presence sees them fade into obscurity.

Advertising’s unspoken contract

The onus on the advertising brand (and their agency, if they have one) is to observe their end of the bargain when they engage with potential customers. Advertising can be viewed as an exchange in which the audience’s attention is repaid through a useful, relevant and, ideally, entertaining experience. Ads that are distinctive and pull at emotional levers, triggering deeper, more primal and meaningful responses are the most effective from a branding perspective.

So, if we are to make a single distinction between what constitutes good and bad advertising, then surely it boils down to whether the creative execution does enough to earn and validate attention.

In the modern marketing landscape, which has undergone such drastic evolution, quality is still the key driver of impact.

Which begs the question: how can quality advertising be defined, created, measured and enshrined? It just so happens, answering that question is a big part of what we do at The Think Tank. If you’re interested in exploring the topic in relation to your own brand, we’d very much like to hear from you. Get in touch with us.

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