Advertising That Works. It's All About Positioning
Advertising used to be simpler. It doesn’t seem like very long ago that we had fewer advertising options available to marketers. For the most part, TV, Radio, Print, Billboards/Outdoor, Direct Mail or the Yellow Pages were the only options. Now you see advertising in all sorts of crazy places like bathroom stalls, specially wrapped cars, airplane tray tables, paint on the sidewalks of DC, and the list goes on and on.
Regardless of the medium, the most effective advertising engages with the consumer. And that engagement furthers the effectiveness of your marketing message.
As a marketing professional, you place advertising so it reaches your “target audience.” However, just reaching that audience doesn’t mean your advertising will work. In order for it to work, you need your target audience’s undivided attention. The best way to achieve this is by contextual advertising - advertising designed to be aligned with content that interests them. Consider this:
ESPN is a very popular cable channel. Their brand is synonymous with sports. ESPN’s Sports Center is THE sports news show on TV... a program that any passionate sports fan watches frequently. There are many advertisements on Sports Center, and most of them are bought to air specifically during that program because advertisers are attempting to reach men. However, just reaching “men” isn’t as effective as it could be.
Let’s consider a golf club manufacturer who is advertising their newest $400 driver. Even though “men” are in their target audience, they really want to drill down more specifically and target men who are play a lot of golf. Many golfers watch Sports Center, but their level of attention is much higher immediately following a report on the most recent US Open tournament than it would be after a report on boxing. A golfer may have watched the report on boxing, but you can be SURE you have their attention after the golf report. That is when your advertising would be most effective.
When it comes to your marketing, make the extra effort to align your message with a medium you find value in, and then take the next step. When possible, narrow down your target within that medium and deliver your message around relevant content to your target audience. Not only will that provide more context to your message, but you will reach your targets when you have their undivided attention.
There are other examples of contextual advertising. If the Washington Capitals are trying to sell season tickets, their ad in the Washington Post Sports section would appear to be targeted. But if they could secure their advertisement next to a story about hockey, or better yet, the Capitals themselves, then their ad will be exponentially more effective.
Here in Washington DC, BWI airport has been running advertising for years on radio station WTOP that is carefully positioned immediately following a “Travelers Forecast.” BWI’s target is travelers. But more specifically, frequent travelers. Who are the most frequent travelers? Business travelers. Business travelers are concerned about weather that might affect them in other cities…and thus would be paying MORE attention to that feature than the average listener. It’s a simple association that adds a ton of value to BWI’s advertising.
This marketing strategy is becoming more and more common, so this is only the beginning of contextual advertising. With the popularity of digital advertising, we see examples of this every day. Often you don’t even realize it.
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