Every business knows the importance of identifying the correct platforms and promotional strategies to approach your target audiences. Different methods of disseminating information will result in varied responses from your targets. Being able to pinpoint the right channel to deliver information to consumers will enable a business to increase their client base, leading to eventual rise in sales figures.
With the Internet being indispensable in today’s era, and the abundance of platforms that it provides for reaching out to customers, businesses have more opportunities to engage audiences in a faster, more creative, and more responsive manner. Despite the countless means provided by the Internet, many online stores today still rely heavily on online advertising to deliver messages to key demographics. However, many experts claim that advertisements have lost much of their appeal, especially amongst millennials today.
As the world’s population transitions from one generation to another, the nature of media and advertisement changes as well. Advertisement techniques from the former generation might not be as effective if they are used for the new generation. Millennials and Generation Z especially, are proving to be a difficult market to penetrate through using advertisements. According to Forbes, millennials do not respond to the advertisements that they are exposed to when surfing the Internet.
Being the digital natives that they are, growing up with full access to smartphones, the Internet, and social media, which can provide them with information about a product or service within seconds. Moreover, the quickness in which they process information and the shortness of their attention span has made advertising woefully ineffective when targeting these groups of consumers.
Many experts have identified reasons why advertisements are not making the impact they once did. Although people continue to shop, the reasons and methods behind their purchasing tendencies have changed. There are numerous reasons why advertisements are becoming increasingly ineffective in the 21st century which will be explained further below.
According to the Advertising Association of the UK, advertisements are defined as paid messages that are sent to potential targets with the intention to inform or influence them. As they are a form of paid publicity, advertising agencies that create the ads will include all information – be it true, fabricated, or exaggerated – that is given by the advertisers into the commercials. Naturally, advertisers would highlight the positive aspects and cover any blemishes of their products and services as an attempt to appeal to audiences. Hence, advertisements are perceived as untrustworthy as companies tend to be not entirely honest with the messages that they deliver via ads.
Be it for work or leisure, we are assaulted by hundreds of ads while we are surfing the Internet daily. Online ads are noise that negatively affects our online experiences. Hence, we have developed a natural reflex to instantaneously ignore anything that resembles an advertisement. Not only that, there are a variety of online extensions and ad-blocking software that enable users to automatically remove or bypass ads from appearing on our screens.
Having almost unlimited access to social media, online forums, and blogs mean that consumers are able to obtain information about a product or service easily simply by searching for reviews, complaints, comments, et cetera on mobile. Rather than depending on advertisements as their primary source of information, they trust sites where they can read honest and non-biased consumer or expert reviews about a product or service that they are interested in, instead of relying on contents provided by self-serving corporate communications.
Moreover, consumers today are less attracted to the appeal of TV personalities, influencers, and brand ambassadors that appear in the ads. They realise that these individuals endorse the products or services because they are paid (often in hefty amounts), not because they purely love it. These advertisers are purely leveraging on the ambassador’s star appeal to push capture the attention of potential consumers.
As advertisements are no longer a reliable source of ROI for online merchants, what other useful alternatives can be implemented for them to increase brand awareness, enlarge their client circle, and improve sales?
Instead of using advertisements that promote “white lies”, companies should practise transparency and accountability. Online businesses should utilise the popularity and functions of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to their advantage by gathering consumer compliments and critiques thanks to their features that promote two-way communication between businesses and consumers. After compiling these feedback, the businesses should respond with sincerity and humility to show that you are putting in the effort to resolve any issues and dissatisfaction that has arisen.
In terms of brand endorsers, online businesses should look for ambassadors that truly loves the company’s products or services instead of relying purely on their fame. In fact, businesses need not hire celebrities to represent them; using someone relatable like everyday citizens might make the ad more credible.
Comprising the biggest portion of the Internet user population, traditional marketing methods including advertising will no longer cut it. In an age where information can be shared instantaneously without any barriers, online businesses that still rely on advertisements as a primary marketing approach face a big risk of falling behind their competitors and eventually disappearing without notice.
Written by Jonathan So and images compiled by Jeremy Chew from iPrice Group.