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Why ads are not the best ROI for your online shop

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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.

Changes that Are Affecting Advertising

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.

Why Are Conventional Advertisements Failing

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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.

Advertisements are Not Trustworthy

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.

Presence of Ad-Blockers

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.

Consumers Today are Smarter

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.

How to Attract Potential Customers in the 21st Century

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.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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