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5 Things you need to know about Advertising

Posted on: October 11th, 2010

Adverts are everywhere these days. They’re so common and so ubiquitous that many of them get ignored – and yet, Google has built a huge business out of advertising on their search results. Someone must be clicking all those links, so what’s the secret? What makes advertising effective?

Text vs Banners

Shiny, flashing banners were the bane of the Internet, back in the dark ages before web designers really got to grips with the medium. It’s no surprise that a lot of people really don’t like banners now – add-ons like NoScript and AdBlock became popular specifically because they were sick of their browsing experience being ruined by ads. Take a look at many popular sites where the banners have been stripped out, and you’d be shocked to see how little content is left over.

Google succeeds with text ads specifically because they’re unobtrusive, and they don’t really look like ads at all. The secret is almost counter-intuitive – as long as the ads don’t fight for the reader’s attention over the content on the page, they’re more likely to be accepted and noticed.

Colorwise

Ah, colors. The time of animated fluorescent gifs is over and done with, and these days there’s no excuse for having adverts with terrible color combinations. Design is important, if you choose to go with banner ads, and color is an integral part of design. The best kind of advert is one where the colors fit with the page and make it appear seamless; the worst kind is an eyesore where everything clashes. Remember, the name of the game is to attract customers, and if they can’t bear to look at your ad, they won’t have a chance to become interested in your products.

What you say and how you say it

Perhaps the one thing that many companies overlook is that adverts’ spelling and grammar should be 100% correct and appropriate for the market. Spell check is your friend, and it wants to make sure you don’t look foolish in front of your potential customers! We’ve all seen examples of “Engrish” signs, price tickets with the infamous grocers’ apostrophe, and even text shorthand on advertising, and in every case it sends entirely the wrong image. So, load up your word processor of choice, buy a copy of the AP Stylebook, and make sure every word is just right before you hand it over to your designer. Always check that you’re using the right expressions, spelling and cultural references. UK English in an advert for the US? Big mistake.

Quality

It should go without saying, but quality counts. If you run a bad advert, you’re losing more than your marketing budget – it’s possible you’re damaging your company’s image as well. Reputation isn’t something that can be bought back once it’s lost (just ask BP!), so it’s always worth your while to make sure your advertising is the best you can get within your budget.

Some smaller companies may go down the route of getting a friend or a relative to do a little graphic design work or a website rather than spend the cash on a professional. This approach can work out, true, but horror stories abound – and you get what you pay for.

Think Different

Traditional advertising is going strong, but with the rise of the Internet, you don’t need to limit yourself to paper and billboards anymore. The best thing about it is that it’s often cheap in comparison, and with some effort, you can reach audiences around the world with your products and services. Think Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and others – they’re used for sharing interesting things between people, and if you position yourself just right, they could be sharing news about you! The power of viral advertising is amazing, and it can propel a company straight into the public consciousness. The Old Spice ads that became a Youtube hit, for example, are clever, funny, and have broad market appeal to both men and women. The key is actually pretty simple – make something cool, or different, or interesting, and make sure people can pass it along easily, and you won’t need to push people into talking about you.

With great power comes great responsibility, however. Quality is even more important when you have the potential to embarrass yourself in front of a global audience.

Adverts are not going away any time soon, and advertising is getting more and more sophisticated as technology evolves. It’s hard to strike a proper balance between too much or too little, and discovering what type will really work for your company. The good news is that adverts are, of course, everywhere, and you can keep a look out for new and interesting ways to get people talking, try out combinations of ads in marketing campaigns, and read professional blogs on advertising that will work for you.

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